Some tricks for making Halloween cocktails and other treats

Halloween cocktails can be served alongside salty-and-sweet Reese’s Spiders, made with peanut butter, chocolate and pretzels.
Halloween cocktails can be served alongside salty-and-sweet Reese’s Spiders, made with peanut butter, chocolate and pretzels. TNS

Get in the spirit of the season with Halloween potions that are not tricky to make.

In fact, all you need for a shocktail is a good spirit, fresh fruit juices, creepy props and your imagination for coming up with a name for the drink.

Adam Henry, cocktail director at Independent Brewing Co. in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill, has five rules of thumb for Halloween cocktails:

Punch it up

“Absolutely go with punch,” Henry said.

It helps a host to spend more time with guests rather than be stuck behind the bar. Punch, which comes from the Sanskrit word panch, which means five, is made with five ingredients — spirits, some kind of a citrus, sugar, spices such as nutmeg, and tea or prosecco, or even sparkling water.

It is an inherent communal drink that can be stretched to meet the crowd size. And guests can return to the bowl for refills without feeling that they are over-indulging as punches should have a low-alcohol content.

Embrace fall

Consider adding seasonal flavors to your cocktail. Apple brandy, cinnamon, pear and allspice are good of-the-moment choices.

Be color-conscious

Opt for drinks in orange and black; after all, they are the official hues of the holiday.

An eerie black drink can be made with pulverized, activated charcoal or with squid ink — that is if you don’t mind a briny cocktail that tastes like the ocean.

Aperol is the go-to drink for that perfect orange color. The orange-flavored Italian aperitif is bittersweet and pairs well with prosecco.

“There’s also the turmeric root, but it is harder to work with,” Henry said. “It’s not so much for flavor and more for color.”


It cannot be a Halloween party without the zombie. The quintessential tiki drink is so potent, it could have you moving like one the characters from The Walking Dead.

A zombie is made with three kinds of rum, plus lime juice, grapefruit juice, cinnamon, falernum (a spiced, citrus Caribbean drink), grenadine and bitters. Created by Earnest Gantt, aka Don the Beachcomber, it was the original farm-to-table drink, Henry said.

Wow the crowd

Create a smoky, spooky feel around the cocktail table by using dry ice. When warm liquid is poured over dry ice, it instantly produces a huge volume of dense fog for a dramatic effect, Henry said.

But it needs to be handled with care because it can cause frostbite. Additionally, Henry cautions never to serve dry ice in a drink itself as it should not be ingested; it should be only used peripherally. So a bowl of punch should be placed inside a larger bowl containing dry ice and warm water.

Witch’s Potion

The fizzy cocktail is an exercise in simplicity. Recipe by Arthi Subramaniam.

3 ounces vodka

3 ounces pomegranate-cranberry juice

Cola to fill glass

8 large, dark-colored raisins for garnish

Pour vodka and juice into glass. Swirl gently. Top off the glass with cola. Garnish with raisins.

Yield: 1 serving

Reese’s Spiders

These spiders on an attack can be made in a jiffy and are crowd-pleasers. Recipe adapted from Hershey’s.

8 Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins (12 ounces each)

3 large pretzel twists

1 tablespoon sour cream

16 mini chocolate chips

Remove wrappers from Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins and place chocolates on a wooden board.

Cut curved sections from the pretzels to form the legs.

Dot cream cheese above the nose of the chocolate to make eyes. Then place a chocolate chip on each of the eyes.

Yield: 8 spiders

Aperol Spritz Punch

This is essentially a gussied-up version of the Aperol Spritz (Aperol, soda water and prosecco) converted into punch proportions, said Adam Henry, cocktail director at Independent Brewing Co. in Pittsburgh. The recipe can easily be doubled.

6 ounces London Dry-style gin, such as Beefeater

1/2 bottle (25.4 ounces) Aperol

6 ounces lemon juice, freshly squeezed and strained

3 ounces orange juice, freshly squeezed

3 ounces grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed

10 ounces water

1 bottle dry prosecco or other dry sparkling wine

Lemon wheels for garnish

Combine all ingredients other than the sparkling wine and refrigerate.

Refrigerate the sparkling wine separately as well. Just before serving, transfer nonwine ingredients to a punch bowl with a large block of ice that has been frozen overnight in an orange juice carton, or plenty of ice cubes. Add with sparkling wine and stir gently.

Garnish with several lemon wheels.

Yield: 10 (6-ounce) servings

Floating Spiders

Ditch the colorful, paper umbrellas for plastic spiders, and you’ll be carried away to a tropical island that celebrates Halloween. Recipe by Arthi Subramaniam.

2 ounces coconut rum

3 ounces carrot juice

3 ounces orange juice

2 ounces pineapple juice

Pour all ingredients into glass. Swirl gently. Place plastic spiders on top of the drink.

Yield: 1 serving

The Great Pumpkin Punch

Recipe by Isaac Grillo of Repour Bar, 1650 James Ave., Miami Beach.

12 ounces fresh lemon juice

12 ounces pumpkin syrup

6 ounces fresh grapefruit juice

6 ounces fresh orange juice

1 (750-ml) bottle Afrohead 7-Year Rum

Sugar to taste

Stir all ingredients with ice in a large container. Adjust sugar for desired sweetness. Pour everything into a carved pumpkin and serve punch style. Garnish with orange/grapefruit slices, some cinnamon sticks, cloves and a dash of whole allspice.

Yield: 10-12 servings