If you're plotting a Halloween bash, you've probably already started thinking about your costume (and your dog's costume) and the deviled egg eyeballs you're going to prepare. Today, we'll help you get set up on the drinks front, from beer suggestions to scary DIY candy-flavored drinks to totally delicious pumpkin cocktails and other autumnal libations.
Even if you kinda hate pumpkin beer, Halloween feels like the right time to drink it. Here's our guide to five favorites that are on shelves this year, and our top picks from a taste test of 17 different options last year. We also asked our group of Certified Cicerones (think of them like beer sommeliers) which pumpkin beers are the best of the bunch. Here are their recommendations.
Or you can throw a homebrewing party and make your own! Here's the beginner-friendly recipe. (Be sure to stock up on bottled beer, too, since it won't be ready to drink yet.)
Matching Drinks and Candy
We've done some serious research into which drinks taste best when you're eating candy. (Warning: such ambitious taste tests usually end in a sugar coma and a stomach ache.) When you've actually got a glass in one hand and an Almond Joy in another, pairing isn't completely straight forward. But we have tips and suggestions to share, whether you're going with straight-up spirits, beer, or wine.
If you're looking for more advice on how to find great beer and dessert matches, this guide from Mike Reis is an ideal place to start.
Mixing pumpkin-flavored drinks is a delicate art: you want the pumpkin flavor to come across, without a weird texture. Incorporating pumpkin butter and pumpkin beer are two of our favorite tricks.
The Great Calabaza
If you're into smoky mezcal, this pumpkin cocktail will be your new favorite fall drink. The savory side of pumpkin is emphasized, while the drink stays fresh with just-squeezed orange and lime. Rim the edge of the glass with five spice salt to complete the effect.
Made with bourbon and nutty sherry, this drink gets its seasonal flavor from pumpkin butter, and a bit of spice from Angostura bitters.
The White Pumpkin
This spin on a White Russian starts with Kahlua and vodka, but gets added interest from Ramazotti, an amaro with strong notes of orange and cinnamon that goes fantastically well with pumpkin.
Jim Meehan of PDT created this rich cocktail, sweetened with flavorful Grade B maple syrup, and shaken with a whole egg. The pumpkin flavor comes from pumpkin ale—Meehan uses Southhampton Pumpkin Ale, but you can experiment with your favorite brand.
Turkey and Sage Cocktail
Fresh sage adds herbal complexity to this high-proof bourbon drink, flavored with pumpkin butter and balanced out with fresh lemon.
More Seasonal Mixed Drinks
You shouldn't feel like you're tied to pumpkin for a fall celebration. If you really want to get into the Halloween spirit, consider a streak of 'blood spatter' on top of any cocktail's foamy layer (pomegranate molasses looks an awful lot like blood.) Here are a few variations on the theme.
Or focus on fall's other signature flavors:
3 Hard Cider Cocktails to Make at Home
12 Ways to Use Maple Syrup in Cocktails
11 Ginger Drink Recipes
3 Concord Grape Cocktail Recipes to Celebrate Fall
20 Ways to Use Apples in Cocktails
Or just make something with bourbon. Everyone likes bourbon.
If You Dare: Candy-Infused Booze
If you really want to wow (or, um, gross out) your Halloween party guests, look into creating your own candy-flavored spirits by infusing your favorite booze with a Hot Tamale or two. Some combinations work better than others (Junior Mints and tequila = yes, marshmallows + cachaça = terrifying) so be sure to read our guide before you get started.
Have a happy Halloween, everyone!