Halloween Cocktails: Psychotic Spirits & Bewitching Brews

Whether you are hosting a Halloween party or just prefer to drink alone — in the dark, in a haunted mansion — these ghostly (ghastly!) concoctions will definitely send a chill down your spine. We dusted off the grand tome of classic cocktails and picked three that will impress your friends… or send them into a spiral of madness.

Halloween drinks - Death in the Afternoon absinthe and champagne cocktail

The first cocktail is aptly named Death in the Afternoon after Hemingway’s book of the same name. Lore has it that he invented this drink and is quoted to have said:

“Pour one jigger absinthe into a champagne glass. Add iced champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”

Please remember that Hemingway was a raging alcoholic and this drink is not for the faint of heart… or is it? (Cue evil laugh.)

Absinthe was banned in 1912 because it was believed to cause hallucinations, violent crimes and social disorder. These bans were lifted in many countries in the 1990s and 2000s and craft distilleries began to produce it again. It’s made from a high-proof neutral spirit and is infused with a blend of botanicals, including wormwood, then redistilled. Traditionally, the alcohol is infused a second time before bottling to intensify the flavor and create the signature green color. Many modern producers skip this final step and use dyes instead. This is something to look out for when purchasing absinthe.

We used St. George’s Absinthe Verte which has no artificial colors and is the first legal absinthe produced in the US after the ban was lifted in 2007.

St. George’s is located near San Francisco and does tastings, much like wine tastings, if you are ever out that way.


1 1/2 ounces absinthe

5 1/2 ounces sparkling wine

Be sure the sparkling wine is very well chilled to attain the desired milky opalescence called the louche.

Our second cocktail, the Dark & Stormy, originated in Bermuda. The name brings to mind dark nights on the rough seas of the Bermuda Triangle where Amelia Earheart and countless others disappeared into a haze of mystery… We are pretty sure the invention of this drink was actually a happy accident on a sunny beach with reggae playing, but whatever, this is a Halloween article.

Halloween drinks - Dark and Stormy cocktail with rum and ginger beer


1 1/4 ounces dark rum

top off with ginger beer

dash of bitters (optional)

squeeze of lime

A dead simple cocktail to make.

Our final Halloween libation, the Snakebite, will send you under the table in no time flat even though it contains no hard alcohol. This easy-drinking concoction is slyly deceptive in it’s potency (hence it’s name) and will sneak up and strike!

The Snakebite is a delicious pairing of hard apple cider and stout beer. It’s layered appearance is something straight out of a mad scientist’s lab. We used Virginia’s own Bold Rock Hard Cider and Murphy’s Stout Beer. Guiness also works here.

Halloween cocktail - Snakebite cocktail with beer and cider


The order you pour is key.

First pour in half a bottle of the hard cider then top off by slowly pouring the stout over a the back of a spoon to float it. Devilishly good!

What will you be brewing up this Halloween?

If you want to get more cocktail ideas, don’t miss these adult milkshakes inspired by Ted’s Bulletin. For more Halloween ideas, check our huge list of Halloween events in Reston and the DC area.

Cocktails courtesy of Charlie Schoening.