The best thing about celebrating Halloween as an adult might be the seasonal proliferation of candy-inspired cocktails. This year, bartenders all over are making it easy to score a sugar fix and booze buzz in one tasty go. Here's where to find Halloween sweets-inspired concoctions across the country.
Location: 45 Ivan Allen Junior Boulevard, Atlanta, GA
Bartender: JC Shurts
Cocktail: Butterscotch Old Manhattan ($15) with Werther’s Original-infused WhistlePig rye, Dolin sweet vermouth, Fee Brothers Aromatic Bitters, a bourbon macerated cherry and a crushed Maldon sea salt rim.
BLT Steak gourmets up wrapped caramel candies in its Butterscotch Old Manhattan. Bartender JC Shurts actually infuses WhistlePig Rye with Werther's caramels, then mixes the liquor with sweet vermouth and bitters. The sea salt rim adds that addictive savory counterpart to the sweet caramel.
Location: 136 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL
Bartender: Jennifer Knott
Cocktail: Mounds Over Apennine ($13) with Lustau Oloroso Sherry, Kalani Coconut Liqueur, Bicerin chocolate liqueur and Amaro Averna.
Head bartender Jennifer Knott wanted to create a cocktail ode to one of her favorite candies, the Almond Joy, while complementing the Italian flavors present in 312 Chicago's dishes. For her Mounds Over Apennine cocktail she combined Lustau Oloroso Sherry, which "is dry with hints of sweetness and bitter chocolate," with rich, nutty Bicerin chocolate liqueur and Amaro Averna. "Together, and with a touch of coconut liqueur, these flavors taste almost like a liquid Almond Joy that would make an excellent digestif or night cap," she says.
Location: 3001 N Henderson Avenue, Dallas, TX
Bartender: Matt Ragan
Cocktail: Trick or Treat ($10) with Westland Single Malt Whiskey, Cocchi Vermouth Di Torino, Frangelico, housemade chocolate pecan bitters, vanilla bean mascarpone cream and grated dark chocolate.
When bar manager Matt Ragan was a kid, his dad used to claim all the Snickers from his trick-or-treat bag for himself. This Snickers-inspired cocktail is a nod to his father's battle for sugar dominance every Halloween. It features "peanut orgeat to represent the peanuts, chocolate pecan bitters, and Westland Single Malt Whiskey makes up the chocolate component, while honey and cream step in for the candy bar’s famous vanilla nougat center" explains Ragan.
Location: 10477 Lombardy Lane, Dallas, TX
Bartender: Matt Tanner
Cocktail: Peanut Butter Cup Alexander ($12) with Averna Amaro, Tempus Fugit Crème De Cacao, peanut honey syrup and heavy whipping cream.
Beverage concept manager Matt Tanner had always wanted to add a dessert cocktail to Pappas Bros. Steakhouse's cocktail menu. But it wasn't until he was snacking on a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup that inspiration to create an Alexander-style cocktail struck. "The cocktail tastes like a boozier, better version of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup," he claims.
Location: 7227 West Grand Parkway S, Richmond, TX
Bartender: Lexey Johnson
Cocktail: Bit O'Honey ($12) with Ransom Old Tom Gin, Benedictine, housemade orgeat, Texas Guajillo Honey, egg white, housemade toasted almond oil drizzle and a rim of buckwheat honey and crushed peanuts.
The classic Bee's Knees cocktail was the perfect medium for a Bit O' Honey-inspired drink, according to bartender Lexey Johnson. "Using Old Tom Gin instead of a basic London Dry gives a rounder, slightly sweeter flavor, while the orgeat bumps up the nutty component and the egg white gives that light, fluffy texture and frothiness that keeps the drink from feeling too rich," she states. The pièce de résistance of the almond oil drizzle brings that nutty aroma to the nose, while the honey throughout reinforces the cocktail's "Bit O' Honey"-ness.
Location: 200 Nohea Kai Drive, Lahaina, HI
Bartender: Matt Rapping
Cocktail: Watermelon Soju ($12) with Ty Ku shochu, Marie Brizard watermelon liqueur, fresh lime sour and coconut water, garnished with a lemon slice.
While the rest of the nation is seeking the comfort of cocktails with rich, warm flavors for cooler fall weather, Hawaiians are looking for refreshing drinks to enjoy on sultry evenings. So bartender Matt Rapping found inspiration from Lem and Mel candy, whose sour lemon and sweet watermelon flavors work together for a sweet-tart cooler.
Location: Shoppes at Palazzo, Las Vegas, NV
Bartender: Sean Fiori
Cocktail: Mounds Martini ($14) with Stoli Chocolate Kokonut, Brizard Chocolat Royale, coconut purée, mini Mounds and half and half.
Mounds bars were bartender Sean Fiori's favorite trick-or-treat booty when he was a kid. "It was like hitting a jackpot to receive Mounds while trick-or-treating. I wanted a cocktail that tasted like a liquid Mounds for my grown-up side!" he says. The result is this indulgent chocolatey, coconutty concoction.
Location: 1634 N Cahuenga Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Gabriella Mylnarczyk
Cocktail: #10 ($14) with caramel, Calvados, apple cider vinegar, smoked salt and egg white.
As a kid growing up in the U.K., bar manager Gabriella Mylnarczyk used to indulge in toffee apples while watching fireworks on Guy Fawkes night. It wasn't until after she got hold of Pop-Up Pastries apple cider caramels that she was reminded of her favorite childhood treat. For her #10 cocktail (her cocktails at Birch are numbered, not named) she added smoked salt and apple cider vinegar to balance the sweetness of the caramel and Calvados. "I think it tastes exactly like a caramel apple, and with the addition of the salt, apple cider, and bitters, you can finish the whole thing off," she says.
Location: 525 S Flower Street, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Marco Carrasco
Cocktail: Children of the Corn ($14) with pineapple Jell-O shot bottom layer, candy corn-infused vodka, yuzu sake and egg white.
Layered drinks are some of bartender Marco Carrasco's favorite to make. For the Children of the Corn, named after his favorite horror movie, he layered the bottom with a yellow pineapple Jell-O shot, the middle orange layer with candy corn-infused vodka and topped it off with egg white foam. The result is a playful tropical sipper.
Location: 1519 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA
Bartender: Greg Bryson
Cocktail: Avalanche ($11) with brandy, Andes Mint syrup and cream.
Who wasn't addicted to Andes Mints? Grownup or kid, when they showed up with a dinner check or from Grandma's purse, that mint chocolate creaminess won everyone over. For bartender Greg Bryson, his grandmother set him on the road to addiction. "But now that I am an adult, drinking them is way more fun! Like a good brandy, Andes are a classic afterdinner treat. The two combine with a touch of cream to create a drink that isn’t too sweet, but is the perfect way to finish a meal," he says.
Location: 2 Dole Drive, Westlake Village, CA
Bartender: Kristine Bocchino
Cocktail: Spiced Candy Apple Martini ($15) with fresh ginger root, Bartlett pear, superfine sugar, Redemption Rye whiskey, fresh lemon juice, Berentzen Apflekorn apple liqueur, St. Elizabeth Allspice dram and graham cracker crumbs.
To evoke autumn memories of candied apples and homemade apple pies, bartender Kristine Bocchino created this Spiced Candy Apple Martini. "The ginger adds a bit of warmth to the cocktail, but it's still cool and refreshing," she says. "In Southern California, October may not be sweater weather, but it's always sipping weather!"
Location: 9575 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Brynn Smith
Cocktail: Hog’s Head Butterbeer ($12) with carbonated housemade butterbeer, Tito’s vodka and Angostura whipped cream.
Adult Harry Potter fans can finally sate their thirst for Butterbeer. Bartender and wannabe wizard Brynn Smith created her own alcoholic version of the butterscotch drink by mixing together butterscotch liqueur, vanilla bean syrup, and Tito's vodka. She then carbonates and bottles it for a boozy soda pop and serves it with Angostura whipped cream and salt. "People geek out about it daily and it makes me so happy to think there are nerds like me out there," she says. "It is magical. I have been told it tastes better than the original, but I can't wait to try some when the park opens here at Universal!"
Location: 7000 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Yael Vengroff
Cocktail: Dr. Teeth ($15) with Milky Way-infused bourbon, dark cacao, Aztec chocolate bitters.
Director of Beverages Yael Vengroff wanted to make a special menu of cocktails just for Halloween as it's her favorite holiday, so she bought a bunch of candy and infused it in booze. For her Dr. Teeth drink, she created an Old Fashioned variation with Milky Way "just because that sounds delicious." She infused the bourbon while bartender Eric Bugosh played up the candy bar's flavors by using Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao and cane syrup as the sweeteners, plus Aztec chocolate bitters.
Location: 3833 Main Street, Culver City, CA
Bartender: Rebecca Morris
Cocktail: Candy Apple Float ($12) with caramel apple ice cream, apple whisky, cider and ginger ale.
"Three of my favorite things are the fall, Halloween and ice cream," says bartender Rebecca Morris. "Candy apples are such a big part of fall I wanted to bring that out in this drink." And since autumn in Southern California can mean triple-digit days, a fall ice cream float made perfect sense.
New York City
Location: 41 West 57th Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Eamon Rockey
Cocktail: Sesame Horchata ($16) with Rhum Barbancourt, Lustau Los Arcos Amontillado Sherry, demerara, horchata, finished with ground cinnamon.
Joyva sesame honey crunch candies are usually regarded with disdain by trick-or-treaters for not being chocolate. But general manager Eamon Rockey decided to create a drink dedicated to the oft-overlooked candy. His sesame horchata, which is how they make it in Puerto Rico (not with rice as in Mexico), is mixed with rum and sherry and garnished with Mexico's version of sesame candy, classic amaranth Alegría candies. "It will be a dedication to Mexico, Puerto Rico (and my bartenders from both of those places) and Halloween all at once!" says Rockey.
Location: 29 W 35th Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Niccole Trzaska
Cocktail: Lemon Lime Sour Critter Shots ($6) with Ménage à Trois Vodka, Tres Agaves Margarita Mix, gelatin and lemon lime rock candy "brains."
Since Halloween is a big party holiday, bartender Niccole Trzaska decided to go with classic Jell-O shots. The vodka is the base liquor for the gelatin mix and the margarita mix provides that tart, sour candy-like bite. After the Jell-O shots solidify, rock candy is crushed up and added to the top to simulate "brains."
Location: 430 Hudson Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Shinya Yamao
Cocktail: Cotton Candy Old Fashioned ($16) with Old Forester Bourbon, Cointreau, Angostura bitters, Peychaud’s bitters, orange bitters and cotton candy.
Head bartender Shinya Yamao adds a playful touch to the Old Fashioned with a puff of cotton candy. "The idea first came when we were hosting the birthday party for a child of a guest of Piora’s," explains Yamao. "To make the mood more jolly, we brought a cotton candy machine." The cotton candy subs in for the traditional sugar cube in the classic cocktail, but is so much cooler when the mixed drink instantly disintegrates the puff when it's poured over it.
Location: 2086 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA
Bartender: Natalie Maroufi
Cocktail: The Smoking Candyman ($9) with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup milk, red chili-and-bacon-infused bourbon rye, and Jolly Rancher cherry simple syrup, served with a marshmallow garnish.
This mix of Reese's peanut butter cup milk and Jolly Rancher simple syrup sounds like what happens when one stuffs their face with Halloween loot at the end of the night. But general manager Natalie Maroufi wanted to combine her two favorite candies for her Halloween-inspired cocktail. "The peanut butter cup milk has a surprisingly subtle flavor profile—both the peanut butter and the chocolate come through nicely without being overpowering. The infused bourbon provides that smoky kick, and the Jolly Rancher syrup, with its sour notes, balances out all the flavors perfectly. With all the unexpected flavors and ingredients, it’s definitely one of my favorite cocktails to date," she says.
Location: 815 Cole Street, San Francisco, CA
Bartender: Shannon Kurashige
Cocktail: Twisted Taffy ($10) with Graham's 10 year old tawny port, unsweetened and salted peanut butter, turbinado sugar syrup, blackstrap molasses, heavy cream, whole egg, malted milk powder and a toasted marshmallow fluff garnish.
Unlike most kids bartender Shannon Kurashige actually liked those Mary Jane peanut butter taffy candies. "I looked forward to eating them every Halloween," she says. And her Twisted Taffy tastes just like a boozy Mary Jane. "The caramel notes in the port pair beautifully with the molasses and peanut butter and the marshmallow fluff gives it a nice taffy-like texture." This Halloween special will be served through to Thanksgiving weekend.
Location: 777 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA
Bartender: Roz Holm
Cocktail: Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut ($10) with Bulleit rye, amaretto, simple syrup, lemon juice, egg white, chocolate bitters, garnished with toasted coconut.
Even though Almond Joy candy bars were always in general manager Dana Marinelli's Halloween candy reject pile when she was a kid, she worked with bartender Roz Holm to create a new Halloween cocktail featuring that "strange coconut candy" flavor.
Location: 1007 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA
Bartender: Caprial Pence
Cocktail: Candy Corn Old Fashioned ($12) with Candy Corn Simple Syrup (candy corn, maraschino cherry juice, water), Angostura bitters, orange peel, bourbon, cherries, lemon peels and candy corn.
Candy corn is a Halloween staple, so for bartender Caprial Pence it was natural fit for a fall Old Fashioned. The classic cocktail is "a bit sweet with orange and lemon and the vanilla from the bourbon," she says. "To me it sounded like the perfect combo with candy corn. The citrus would offset the sweetness of the candy corn it seemed like a match made in heaven."
Location: 3417 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC
Bartender: Caroline Blundell
Cocktail: The Maize Rummer ($14) with buttered popcorn simple syrup, Don Q white rum, Goslings dark rum, Cardamaro and Xocolatl Mole Bittermens bitters.
Since Ripple is all about sustainability, bar manager Caroline Blundell wanted to forgo typical Halloween candy made with weird colors and high fructose corn syrup. So, caramel corn was the way to go. In the cocktail, the "warmth of the rums melt perfectly into the depth of buttery sweetness of the popcorn syrup," she explains. Butter plays the important role of providing a rounded mouthfeel, while Cardamaro brings in an herbal bitterness and complexity.