Pfft, any 3-year-old can collect candy. But celebrating Halloween as an adult means that not only can you buy candy you actually like, and without the footwork, but you can enjoy scream-worthy adult beverages crafted just for the holiday. Whether it’s candy-inspired or just has a really creepy garnish, it beats asking strangers for free chocolate any day. And this year some of your favorite watering holes around town are serving up delicious libations that will haunt your dreams.
Big Bar in Los Feliz is throwing a pre-Halloween “All My Friends Are Dead” bash on Thursday and created five scary-delicious cocktails for the occasion. One of them is the Horseman’s Head, made with Bruichladdich, Liquid Alchemist Pumpkin Spice Elixir, ginger, lemon, and Octomore spritz. Since the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow seemed to have an endless supply of pumpkins to hurl at Ichabod Crane, bartender Eugene Lee went with a pumpkin-y Penicillin variation, which Big Bar, too, will have an unending supply of.
For something truly festive, 1886’s Hob Goblet actually comes with its own cobweb which, fortunately, is edible. Plus bartender Peter Lloyd Jones’ creation is perfect for fall, made with applejack, housemade pumpkin syrup, allspice dram, cinnamon, and fresh lemon juice.
If you never heeded the “Please Take One” signs that your neighbors put on the candy bowls they left out for trick-or-treaters, this one is for you. The Corner Door’s Beau du Bois’ Please Take One, which is reminiscent of the modern classic American Trilogy, is an comfy mix of peanut-infused bourbon, apple brandy, chocolate and aromatic bitters, and sugar.
Drink Chaya Downtown’s Dark and Stormy Death Punch if you dare! That lychee and cherry “eyeball” is certainly creepy but is it terrifying enough to keep you away from that mix of dark rum, lime juice, simple syrup, and ginger beer?
EP/LP‘s Black Thai Optional is as black as the blackest night and the darkest heart—but it’s so tasty and easy to drink. The cocktail is made with lychee, gin, house-made activated coconut husk charcoal, lemon, amaro, and egg white. For its most startling feature, bartender Adam Nystrom ignited the husks to a smolder then cooled and ground them into a powder.
For Halloween and Dia de los Muertos Gracias Madre’s Jason Eisner did up “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice,” a tequila beer cocktail run on nitro draft. It’s made with Avion Reposado, Oktoberfest beer, house pumpkin cream soda, homemade artichoke liquor, and garnished with a cold brew coffee skull-shaped ice. “This cocktail is spearmint forward, creamy, and bitter. Batching it and running it on Nitro gives it a velvety mouth feel and texture that coats your mouth on every sip. It’s like drinking the perfect cold brew, only it doesn’t taste like coffee and it will elevate your consciousness,” says Eisner, adding, “Be careful if you order it three times though, as Micheal Keaton could appear.”
Los Balcones’ The Final Burn is a play on the classic Last Word, but with mezcal. Since the Last Word is a garnishless cocktail, drink creator Adam Oliveras saw an opportunity to use the charcoal as a simple yet theatrical garnish that plays into the overall concept of the cocktail. But how does it taste? “It is a bold, vibrant cocktail, using yellow chartreuse and alpine liqueur to accentuate the herbaceous qualities if the mezcal,” says bar manager Josh Suchan. “A rinse of absinthe ties all of these components together. The activated charcoal is a simple yet dramatic garnish and its color mimics the aroma and flavors of the mezcal.”
After experimenting with juicing, Melrose Umbrella Co.’s bar program manager Dave Purcell discovered that the sweet potato added a thick texture that wasn’t creamy or frothy due to an egg or milk products. So he turned it into a syrup and mixed it with butter-washed tequila. It made the Pie cocktail’s texture unique as well as complex with flavors opening up in room temperature. “I have never seen a cocktail behave this way before,” says Purcell. “For something so intricate and robust, I thought it only fitting that it have an exceedingly simple name: Pie.”
Osso bartender Darwin Manahan’s “The Ladies Upstairs” is actually an homage to the ladies who lived above the space during the 1930s and ’40s when it was a brothel. According to Manahan in the ’30s there was a huge earthquake that killed over 30 of the prostitutes and their customers. Manahan and Osso staff are convinced that the ladies still haunt the building to this day. He created this—a mix of mezcal, blood orange, Jamaica cordial, and lime juice—to toast the ladies.
Halloween is The Spare Room’s Yael Vengroff’s favorite holiday so to celebrate she basically infused certain spirits with popular Halloween treats and incorporated them into classic cocktails. Her Dr. Teeth is an Old Fashioned made with Milky Way-infused bourbon, the Bed Sheet Ghost is a Pina Colada with Butterfinger-infused Pineapple Rum, and the aptly named Children of the Corn is a Moscow Mule with candy corn-infused vodka.
Another black cocktail! The Wallace’s Greg Bryson found inspiration from Game of Thrones for his “Blood & Sand” variation. “I thought about Game of Thrones being very memorable…. This drink is memorable,” says Bryson. “It’s pitch black and full of complex flavors. It’s comparable to none.” The ink black sipper is made with Lawai Japanese Whiskey, Amaro CioCiarro, Cointreau Guignolet (cherry), grapefruit juice, and squid ink.