Halloween is admittedly a kitschy holiday, but that’s no reason to throw sophistication out the window when it comes to throwing an on-theme party. By serving a classic cocktail with a slightly morbid name (like Corpse Reviver or The Grave Digger), you can subtly allude to the spirit of the holiday without sacrificing the quality of your tipple.
Ingredients like blackberries and Guinness create a dark mood without venturing into cheesy territory. Any double-strained cocktail can instantly be given a spooky-chic vibe with the smoke and fog effects of a couple of cubes of dry ice—just wait until it has fully evaporated before sipping.
Explore our 15 favorite sophisticated Halloween and fall-inspired cocktails.
The Corpse Reviver
The Recipe: The Corpse Reviver
Why We Love It: The Corpse Reviver is a classic cocktail that dates back to 1871. The drink includes dry gin, orange liqueur, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice, an absinthe rinse, and a brandied cherry garnish. In this case, Ashley Rose Conway of Sugar & Cloth delivers the absinthe via atomizer (spray bottle) "to highlight the anise notes," she explains.
If you don't have an atomizer, rinse the glass with absinthe by adding a small amount to the coupe, swirling, and dumping out before pouring the cocktail.
Poison Apple Cocktail
The Recipe: Poison Apple Cocktail
Why We Love It: This fall cocktail recipe from Sugar & Cloth calls for real grenadine (made from pomegranates), instead of the fake stuff, "which is made from corn syrup and food dye," Conway admits. Additionally, you'll need apple brandy, apple and cranberry juices, nutmeg, cinnamon, and an egg white.
Dirty Bloody Mary
The Recipe: Dirty Bloody Mary
Why We Love It: Who said Halloween festivities had to happen at night? Salt & Wind's bloody Mary recipe would fit right into a fall brunch setting. At the ready, have vodka, Castelvetrano olives, lemon juice, prepared horseradish, chilled tomato juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and celery seeds on hand.
Aida Mollenkamp, the founder of Salt & Wind, prefers to "roll" instead of shake this cocktail. She says, "Shaking it can make it watery and cause the cocktail to separate." Instead, roll it by pouring it back and forth between two glasses.
Spiced Persimmon Old Fashioned
The Recipe: Spiced Persimmon Old Fashioned
Why We Love It: It's easy to channel fall vibes with Salt & Wind's season-appropriate old fashioned. You'll need ripe persimmons, mandarin oranges, maple syrup, rye or whiskey, orange bitters, and a cinnamon stick for garnish.
Let the ripeness of your persimmons guide how much maple syrup you'll use.
La Llorona (The Weeping Woman)
The Recipe: La Llorona (The Weeping Woman)
Why We Love It: We love our Pisco drinks, and this lime and lemon juice concoction from Muy Bueno Cookbook is no exception. It incorporates Angostura bitters, which pair perfectly with Peruvian brandy. According to Mexican folklore, La Llorona was a beautiful yet unstable woman who drowned her children to be with a man who wanted nothing to do with her. In her afterlife, she wandered through the water, wailing in search of her children. Eerie.
The Grave Digger Cocktail
The Recipe: The Grave Digger Cocktail
Why We Love It: We’ll forgo the plastic ligament in this drink from Boulder Locavore; the whiskey and hard cider alone are enough to chill you to the bone. Ginger ale adds the perfect amount of sweetness.
The Black Widow Smash
The Recipe: The Black Widow Smash
Why We Love It: This richly-hued cocktail from Half Baked Harvest is also simple to make. Muddled blackberries and rosemary, lemon, orange bitters, honey, tequila, and a sparkling water topper help create this sipper.
Half Baked Harvest founder Tieghan Gerard suggests garnishing with fresh rosemary.
The Recipe: Sour Appletini
Why We Love It: This martini recipe from Pickled Plum is equal parts sweet and tart, just like the spirit of Halloween. It's super easy to make too. All you need is vodka, sour apple schnapps, apple slices to garnish, and ice.
Make it sweeter with apple liqueur. And, start with a chilled glass "by adding a little water and some ice cubes," Caroline Phelps, founder of Pickled Plum, suggests. "Then, gently swirl and when the glass becomes frosted, drain and set aside."
Black Velvet Cocktail
The Recipe: Black Velvet Cocktail
Why We Love It: Guinness can be a divisive drink, but if you're a fan of the dark-colored Irish dry stout, this cocktail from Salt & Wind is for you. A combination of sparkling wine, crème de mûre, soaked cherries, and Guinness, it's the perfect potion for your Halloween festivities.
Pomegranate Blackberry Bramble Cocktail
The Recipe: Pomegranate Blackberry Bramble Cocktail
Why We Love It: Prefer to add a spooky element via garnishes? This pomegranate blackberry bramble from Salt & Wind is the ideal base recipe to get creative with. Pomegranate liqueur and fresh blackberries give it a blood-red color, while honey and vodka add a kick.
Be gentle when muddling the berries; crush them just enough to release the juices.
Haunted Orchard Cocktail
The Recipe: Haunted Orchard Cocktail
Why We Love It: This cocktail from Half Baked Harvest is so easy to make. The recipe calls for all ingredients to be combined in a cocktail shaker (think tequila, cinnamon, lemon juice, maple syrup, and ginger) then top with hard cider. Add a cinnamon stick and sliced apples for garnish. Voila!
The Deathly Hallows Cocktail
The Recipe: The Deathly Hallows Cocktail
Why We Love It: A mix of fall flavors, this cocktail, another from Half Baked Harvest, works well for Halloween, but you can also tone it down for any seasonal gathering. Round up tequila, cranberry or pomegranate juice, orange liqueur, maple syrup, lemon juice, and ginger beer.
"To give the drink a little smokiness, I finished each drink off with a sprig of fresh thyme that I then lit on fire," Gerard offers. "It's mostly just fun for presentation, but it does infuse the drink with hints of fresh thyme, which I love paired with the cranberry."
Roasted Cherry Sangria
The Recipe: Roasted Cherry Sangria
Why We Love It: You really can't go wrong with sangria, especially if it comes from this Foodie Crush recipe. This dark red libation is an absolute crowd pleaser and can be made in bulk so guests can serve themselves. Top with lychees to add a spooky eyeball-like touch.
Top your sangria mixture with cava rosé before garnishing with torn basil or mint.
Blood Orange Marigold Margarita
The Recipe: Blood Orange Marigold Margarita
Why We Love It: Muy Bueno Cookbook celebrates Halloween and Día de Muertos with this blood orange margarita. You can make it with marigold flowers, which, according to recipe founder, Marquez-Sharpnack, represent the fragility of life. She says, "It is believed that departed souls are attracted to the marigold's vibrant color and strong fragrance." Other ingredients you'll need include blood oranges, tequila, limes, triple sec, and salt (if you prefer a salted rim).
Horchata White Russian
The Recipe: Horchata White Russian
Why We Love It: When we feel like skipping the Halloween festivities in favor of curling up on the couch with Netflix and a comforting cocktail, we'll be sipping on Le Petit Eats's delicious cocktail. You'll need vodka, coffee liqueur, horchata, and ground cinnamon.