4 Theatrical Cocktails for Halloween
The season is upon us for costumes, tricks and treats. And for adults celebrating Halloween, sometimes there’s no better treat than a good cocktail.
These holiday-themed drinks will give you the perfect recipe for your summoning rituals, seances, fireside sacraments or whatever else you’ve got cooking on October 31st. Whether drinks adorned with Mexican worm-salt and beetles, Bourbon blackened with activated charcoal or the sinister-sounding Corpse Reviver #2—a classic cocktail with roots in the gaslamp days of the 19th century—each of these drinks can be easily prepared in large batches to make sure no one goes thirsty at your party.
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Courtesy Bryan Galligos, bartender, Bacchus Bar, Portland, OR
According to bartender Bryan Galligos, this cocktail—aptly called Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice—was inspired by the diet of a beetle, namely fruit, leaves and wood. That translated to using apple, basil and rosemary to create what’s not only a fall-appropriate cocktail, but a perfect Halloween drink. It has a green hue and sports an edible beetle garnish that’s supplied by Newport Jerky Company, which offers an array of preserved insects. A waft of smoke from charred rosemary adds a full-on spooky effect.
- 1 rosemary sprig (for charring)
- 1½ ounces Calvados (apple brandy)
- 1 ounce apple cider
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- 5–7 basil leaves
- Beetle from Newport Jerky Company, for garnish
Carefully char rosemary with a match or lighter and place overturned martini glass over it as it smokes. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine next five ingredients. Shake well, and strain into martini glass. Garnish with beetle, if desired.
Courtesy Courtenay Greenleaf, beverage director, Rosa Mexicano, New York City
Small Mexican chain eatery Rosa Mexican uses smoked guajillo (a type of chili powder) mixed with sal de gusano for a smoky-earthy glass rim that adds spice with every sip. This drink, the Mezcal-isco, is inspired by the traditional way of sipping agave spirits in Jalisco, Mexico. There, locals sprinkle worm salt on an orange or apple slice and nibble between sips of smoky mezcal.
- Sal de gusano, to rim glass
- 1 lime wedge, for rim
- 1 ounce Peloton mezcal
- 1 ounce Espolón Reposado Tequila
- 1 ounce lime juice
- ¾ ounce agave nectar
- 3 dashes orange bitters
- 1 half-moon orange slice, for garnish
Place the sal de gusano in a small dish. Moisten the rim of a rocks glass with the lime wedge. Roll the edge of the glass in the salt mix. Place the glass in a freezer to chill. Add remaining ingredients, except garnish, to a mixer filled with ice. Shake well, and strain into the prepared glass over fresh ice. Garnish with the orange slice placed vertically along the inside wall of the glass, if desired.
Often mistaken for a single drink, the Corpse Reviver actually describes a family of cocktails. These beverages earned their namesake by being pitched to imbibers as hangover cures as far back as the 19th century.
Mentions of the drink date back to 1861 (in an issue of London’s satirical Punch magazine) as well as an early recipe that appeared in the 1871 book The Gentleman’s Table Guide by E. Ricket and C. Thomas. However, the two most famous variations, Corpse Reviver #1 and Corpse Reviver #2, were first standardized in Harry Craddock’s 1930 bartending bible, The Savoy Cocktail Book.
The one every home bartender needs to know? The Corpse Reviver #2. It’s the pinnacle of classic-cocktail elegance: perfectly balanced, easy to remember and mixed in equal parts.
Craddock’s original recipe called for equal parts gin, lemon, Cointreau, Kina Lillet and a whisper of absinthe. Unfortunately, Lillet— a fortified aperitif wine—stopped using cinchona bark in their formula in 1986 and dropped “Kina” from their name, losing the product’s signature bitter quinine bite as a result.
Thankfully, the quality of Corpse Reviver #2s that can be found has improved in recent years as Cocchi Americano, an quinine-fortified aperitif wine, has become widely available outside of Italy and works as a great replacement for the classic Kina flavor.
- ¾ ounce gin
- ¾ ounce lemon juice
- ¾ ounce Cointreau
- ¾ Cocchi Americano
- 1 dash absinthe
- Orange peel, for garnish
Combine all ingredients in shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until well chilled. Double strain (strain from shaker through additional fine mesh strainer) into chilled coupe or Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with orange peel.
Note: If a less anise-forward flavor is desired, absinthe can be used to rinse the glass (swirled until the interior is coated and then discarded), rather than shaken with the other ingredients. And if you’d like a lighter cocktail, Lillet Blanc can be substituted for Cocchi Americano.
Courtesy The Club Car at the McKittrick Hotel, New York City
The McKittrick Hotel, the offbeat New York venue that hosts the hit interactive theater experience Sleep No More, offers this cocktail from their noir-styled restaurant and watering hole, The Club Car. Activated charcoal is mixed with Bourbon for dramatic effect, but the blend of Cacao, amaro and sweet vermouth with two types of bitters is where the magic really happens.
- 2 ounces charcoal Bourbon
- ¼ ounces amaro
- ¼ ounces Cacao liqueur
- ½ ounces sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
- Edible glitter and shapes for garnish
Add 1 barspoon of activated charcoal per liter of whisky and stir until evenly combined, (This can be prepared in advance and reserved for use).
Combine all liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until evenly combined. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with edible glitter.
- 1Beetles | Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice
- 2Worms | Mezcal-isco
- 3Corpse Reviver #2 Classic Cocktail Recipe
- 4The Inferno Cocktail