Halloween Cocktails

by Rhett Williams

Themed cocktails tend to be a bad idea. There are some tried and true concepts that fit with the seasons, however, like a Hot Toddy or a Flip in the winter, sparkling cocktails and Juleps in the summer, using fresh fruit in spring, and spices in the fall. Through the modern age when artificially flavoured liqueurs became commonplace, "holiday cocktails" started making appearances, usually concoctions bred by a child-like affinity for sugar and bright colours, and a complete lack of both knowledge and what would be considered a palate. Do themed drinks have to be this awful? Can a drink not be festive and delicious? With it being harvest time, and Halloween around the corner, I decided to put together a little fall-themed series. I challenged several skilled bartenders to create an original drink using fall flavours, or if they so choose, a Halloween theme. Throughout the month I will be posting each of these drinks with recipes for all to share.

To kick things off I decided to start with some great examples of Halloween "cocktails," so I scoured websites and magazines for the worst possible excuses for mixed drinks I could find. This was a depressing and unpleasant exercise. The more I found the more "Halloween drink" became defined as a mixture of any coloured ingredients to produce a black, green, or red product. My suspicions were confirmed when I stumbled across this gem from a Halloween-themed website. I have not edited any of the text.

Booda's Black Brew

  • 1 oz Coconut Rum
  • 3/4 oz Blue Curacao
  • 3/4 oz Raspberry Liqueur 
  • 1/2 oz Grenadine
  • Fill with Cranberry juice
  • Fill with Ice.

Hurricane Glass Fill with Ice 1oz. Coconut Rum 3/4oz. Blue Curacao 3/4oz. Raspberry Liqueur 1/2oz. Grenadine Fill with Cranberry Top and Shake

Creator/contributor's comments: "Well it was Halloween Night I was working (being the Rookie). I shaved my head and all my facial hair and I dressed up as Buddha. Anyway some really hot chick asked me to make a Witches Brew. Me being a Rookie I didn’t know how to make it. So to impress this girl I flew around the bar I work at picking up every dark looking liquor trying to make something that looked and tasted cool. Then Pow she drank it and asked me "what the Hell was that??" and it just came out "Booda's Black Brew," I said. She licked her lips and says, "Damn give me another!!" Then all her fine little friends came and asked me for some Booda's Black Brew!!! And so a drink was born… I have been called Booda for years now so everything fit into place."

This is a great example of why holiday drinks have a bad reputation - but I found worse. Melon liqueur makes a regular appearance, particularly in "shots," but I also found candy corn-infused spirits, numerous candy garnishes, and a wealth of "-tinis" with 3 oz of cream. I did not find a single drink that was stirred and not shaken. Numerous drinks on my list were found on professional sites from working bartenders and "mixologists."

I am skipping "shots" mostly because they contain fewer ingredients and therefore less opportunity for ridiculousness, but a couple deserve mention: "Alligator Piss" with equal parts Melon Liqueur, Peach Schnapps, Whiskey Liqueur, Almond Liqueur, and a dash of sweet and sour sauce, and the "Ghostbuster," with Peach Schnapps, Melon Liqueur, and a dribble of Irish Cream Liqueur for the ghost effect. The former deserves mention because it was the worst "shot" I could find, and the latter to demonstrate the typical holiday style of looks over taste.

I encourage everyone to leave a comment or send me a message/email if you know of any awful Halloween drinks that aren't included here, and you can head over to my personal site for a more comprehensive list.

Here my favourites so far:

Green Monster

  • 1 oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz Peach Schnapps
  • 1 oz Whiskey Liqueur
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Melon Liqueur

Shake

Top with 1/2 pint of apple cider and 1/2 pint lager

Red Devil

  • ½ oz Gin
  • ½ oz Vodka
  • ½ oz Whiskey
  • ½ oz Triple Sec
  • ½ oz Banana Liqueur
  • 1 tbsp Lime Juice
  • 2 oz Orange Juice

Shake

Salem Witch

  • ½ oz Vodka
  • ½ oz Raspberry Schnapps
  • ½ oz Melon Liqueur
  • Splash of lime

Shake and fill with 2/3 sour mix and 1/3 soda then top with a splash of grenadine.

Graveyard

  • 1 or ½ package Triple Sec
  • 1 or ½ package High Proof Rum
  • 1 or ½ package Vodka
  • 1 or ½ package Gin
  • 1 or ½ package Tequila
  • 1 or ½  package Bourbon
  • 1 or ½  package Scotch

Beer

Stout

“Mix the 5 whites and 2 whiskies in a beer mug in equal amounts. Top up the rest of the mug with half beer and half stout.”

(I left the text as is to be true to the recipe, but I'm assuming "package" means "oz." I have also seen "package" written as "pint" on other sites.)

Raspberry Candy Apple Martini

  • 1 oz Raspberry Liqueur
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • ¾ oz Apple Schnapps
  • Splash of Vanilla liqueur

Rim a chilled cocktail glass with caramel (or caramel syrup).

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, and shake until chilled.

Strain into the prepared glass.

Serve garnished with an apple slice.

This month will be my attempt at turning this cliché around. It may seem tacky to create a holiday drink, but in the hands of a skilled professional the results are going to be tasteful and delicious. Stay tuned.


Read more from Fall Cocktails.