Drink This: 10 Spooky Cocktails for Halloween

By Olga Boikess  |  October 29, 2013

Halloween puts cocktail craftsmen in an antic mood. Adventurous ingredients, inventive techniques and the spirit of whimsy define some of their new fall drinks. Smoke - infused in spirits, or in the air - wafts through some. Others are ready to bite back. Check out some of the scary sips they’re serving now. Are you up for the challenge?

  • Bar Charley: Stepdad

    This hip 18th Street watering hole’s theatrical preparation starts with a cedar plank and a blowtorch (to ignite it). Aromatic wood smoke is captured in the cocktail glass. Then tobacco-infused cognac is added, along with a black-tea ice cube (202-627-2183).

  • Credit: flickr_ep_jhu

    Barmini: Highlander

    Things are seldom what they seem at José Andrés' futuristic Penn Quarter cocktail den that brings molecular gastronomy to the world of fancy drinks. This one is made with whiskey, mescal, rosemary syrup and crème de cacao. The bartenders use a special technique that puts literal aromatic clouds (made from crème de cacao, rosemary, water, lemon peel and orange peel) on top of the drink (202-393-4451).

  • Del Campo: Burnt Pumpkin Old Fashioned

    Victor Albisu’s Penn Quarter Latin uses its grill for just about everything.So it’s no surprise that this fall ‘tail is smoked and served at the table on a smoking board. What a smashing way to enjoy seasonal pumpkin (202-289-7377).

  • Credit: Scott Suchman

    Fuego Cocina y Tequileria: Ashes to Ashes

    Day of the Dead celebrations have inspired this Clarendon cantina’s specialty drinks, including the Ashes to Ashes, made with tequila, cocoa liquor, Mexican arbol syrup and a shot of espresso; powdered sugar on the rim provides the ash. Equally dramatic is the "Ofrendas Para Amigos" (Gifts to Friends), an orange- and port-flavored punch that uses dry ice for a steaming cauldron effect (571-970-2180).

  • The Pig: Pig Slime

    The bartenders at this 14th Street NW pub really get into the Halloween spirit conjuring up potions, which look and sound worse than they taste. The ‘slime’ is mint foam, and it tops a dark rum and housemade spiced cordial syrup concoction. Another feature is called the Dead Pig - it’s a brandy Manhattan complete with a spider toy inside the drink (202-290-2821).

  • Credit: Lorraine Fitzsimmons

    OyamelPato Borracho

    There’s a bit of a bite to this composition of Gran Centenario Añejo tequila (house-infused with duck fat), chihuatl chile, pomegranate and pineapple. Almond air adds drama to the drink (202-628-1005).

  • Ripple: Feel the Berner

    Fat-washing booze is a hot trend, and this Cleveland Park New American’s bar manager, Caroline Blundell, will be pleased to tell you how it is done. Pictured is a drink featuring bacon-washed mescal, mixed with Fresno soda and finished with a gusano salt rim (202-244-7995).

  • Rosa Mexicano: El Diablo Ahumado 

    These classy cantinas are celebrating the Day of the Dead with special dishes and drinks like a fiery concoction made with ancho chile-infused Herradura reposado tequila, fresh blood orange, apricot brandy and cinnamon. The aged tequila provides smoky notes (Penn Quarter: 202-783-5522; Chevy Chase: 202-777-9959; National Harbor: 301-567-1005).

  • Credit: Jody Brady

    Rose’s Luxury: Whiskey Based

    At this charming, eclectic instant hit on Capitol Hill, the drinks have no names. The short menu offers a terse list of ingredients that belie the complexity of the resulting drink. Pictured is a mix of muddled jalapeño, maple and corsair triple-smoke whiskey that, notwithstanding the chile’s expected bite, is smooth, balanced and easy to drink (202-580-8889).

  • Credit: Marissa Scarna

    Zaytinya: Harissa Fizz

    This Penn Quarter Mediterranean incorporates harissa, a Middle Eastern hot chile sauce, into its cocktail program because of its pungent flavor, good acidity and beautiful color. This drink mixes the feisty ingredient with a ginger liqueur to bring out the brightness of flavor and a housemade lemon soda to contrast the acidity. Tequila and egg whites balance the drink (202-638-0800).