Halloween is admittedly a kitschy holiday, but that’s no reason to throw sophistication out the window. 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 or 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. Excited to mix a drink yet?
Read below for 15 sophisticated Halloween and fall-inspired cocktails that get our sip of approval.
The Corpse Reviver
The Recipe: The Corpse Reviver
Why We Love It: The Corpse Reviver is a classic cocktail, which dates as far back as 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."
Pro Tip: If you don't have an atomizer, writes Conway, "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 on Sugar & Cloth calls for real grenadine (made from pomegranates), instead of the fake stuff, "which is made from corn syrup and food dye," writes Conway. Additionally, you'll need apple brandy, apple and cranberry juices, nutmeg, cinnamon, and an egg white.
Pro Tip: Add a sprinkle of cinnamon and an apple slice for garnish.
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 in to 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.
Pro Tip: Aida Mollenkamp, founder of Salt & Wind, prefers to 'roll' instead of shake up this cocktail, which she writes "makes it watery and causes it to separate." Instead, roll it by pouring it back and forth between two glasses, writes Mollenkamp.
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.
Pro Tip: 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 has the delicious addition of Angostura bitters, which pairs perfectly with the 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.
Pro Tip: Yvette of Muy Bueno Cookbook recommends adding dry ice for a spooky effect; just don't touch it with your bare hands.
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.
Pro Tip: "Most hard ciders are gluten-fee," writes Toni, of Boulder Locavore, Meaning, those who need to avoid gluten can imbibe with this cocktail.
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.
Pro Tip: Garnish 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.
Pro Tip: Make it sweeter with apple liqueur. And, start with a chilled glass "by adding a little water along with some ice cubes," writes Caroline Phelps, of Pickled Plum. 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.
Pro Tip: Don't forget to top with a cherry!
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.
Recipe: Be gentle when muddling the berries; you want to 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 topped with hard cider.
Pro Tip: Add a cinnamon stick and sliced apples for garnish.
The Deathly Hallows Cocktail
The Recipe: The Deathly Hallows Cocktail
Why We Love It: A mix of fall flavors, this cocktail from Half Baked Harvest works well for Halloween or can be toned down for any seasonal gathering. Round up tequila, cranberry or pomegranate juice, orange liqueur, maple syrup, lemon juice, and ginger beer.
Pro Tip: "To give the drink a little smokiness, I finished each drink off with a sprig of fresh thyme that I then lit on fire," explains recipe creator Tieghan Gerard, of Half Baked Harvest. "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, like this recipe from Foodie Crush. 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.
Pro Tip: Top 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 Dia de los Muertos with this blood orange margarita, with optional marigold flowers; which represent the fragility of life, writes Yvette, of Muy Bueno Cookbook. "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).
Pro Tip: Garnish with a blood orange slice.
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 cocktail recipe. You'll need vodka, coffee liqueur, horchata, and ground cinnamon.
Pro Tip: Use store-bought horchata or make your own with Le Petit Eats's recipe, included.