The only thing scary about most Halloween-themed cocktails is how frightfully bad they taste. From the ghastly Candy Corn (equal parts Baileys, vanilla liqueur and butterscotch Schnapps), to the merely gut-wrenching Jack-O-Tini (bourbon, sour-apple Schnapps and cranberry juice), devil's night drinks tend to taste more like tricks than treats. Which is why we're strongly suggesting you shake up one of the following organic concoctions (unless, of course, you really are trying to poison your guests).
Blood Orange Margarita
A sanguinary take on the classic tequila-based sour that would be tasty year-round.
1 1/2 oz freshly squeezed organic blood orange juice
1 oz freshly squeezed organic lime juice
1 oz Combier or Cointreau (or 1/2 oz organic agave nectar)
2 oz organic blanco tequila
Combine all ingredients (along with generous amount of ice cubes) in shaker and shake like the devil's chasing you. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or old-fashioned glass (either may be salt-rimmed, if you like) filled with ice. Garnish with a blood orange wedge and a sprig of fresh sage.
As with most parties involving more than a half dozen revelers, batching drinks beforehand means you get to spend more time with guests than slinging drinks. To batch this or most any cocktail, just multiply the amount of each ingredient by the number of drinks you want to make.
West Coast bartender John Coltharp's riff on one of my very favorite old-school cocktails, the Jack Rose. Earthy, spicy and appley, this drink is fall distilled in a glass. And with a spooky name for Halloween. Keep in mind that you should use only real grenadine (equal parts pomegranate juice and sugar, dissolved), as store-bought versions, well, suck.
1 oz rye whiskey
1 oz Laird's applejack
3/4 oz freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
3/4 oz organic grenadine
Combine all ingredients, along with ice cubes, in shaker and shake the beetlejuice of it. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Fresh grate a little cinnamon over the top.
Corpse Reviver #2
Way old-school cocktail with a ready-made Halloween name, the Corpse Reviver #2 just happens to be a lovely and very complex cocktail.
1 oz organic gin (below)
From the Organic Authority Files
1 oz Combier or Cointreau
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-3 drops absinthe (yes, it's legal again)
Shake all ingredients together with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish by dropping in a stemless cherry. Note: please don't use some Day-Glo excuse for a maraschino cherry packed with artificial colors and flavors. Hunt down a jar of real maraschino cherries. Luxardo, the same company that makes maraschino liqueur, also produces marasca cherries in syrup.
Among the better brands of organic gin is Juniper Green Organic Gin, fittingly distilled in central London, the town that made gin infamous in the mid eighteenth century, when gin consumption was rampant and its effects so destructive that gin was nicknamed "mother's ruin." Made with a riot of organic juniper berries, coriander, angelica root, and savory, Juniper Green is a very flavorful gin, but it won't overpower other ingredients in a cocktail.
Philadelphia Distilling, a craft producer of gin in Pennsylvania, is making Bluecoat American Dry Gin, an American-style (read: cleaner) gin made with organic juniper berries, which give it a nice spicy earthiness, along with angelica root and citrus peel.
Cascade Peak Spirits' Organic Nation, or O-N, brand gin has a gentle herbaceous quality that makes for a versatile mixer. Sadly, Organic Nation spirits currently are available only in Oregon.
And where would you be these days without a drink dedicated to the undead? I'm talking White Zombies. Hailing from The Hungry Cat in Hollywood, this tropical chiller is a very tasty re-working of the Tiki standard, the Zombie.
1 1/2 oz organic light rum (Crusoe Silver Organic Rum is good)
3/4 oz organic coconut milk
3/4 oz freshly squeezed organic lime juice
3/4 oz organic chile simple syrup (below)
Spoonful of organic grenadine
Shake all ingredients except grenadine with ice and pour into a double old-fashioned glass (or any tallish glass). Float a small spoonful or two of grenadine over the top and garnish with lime zest or a lime wheel.
Chile Simple Syrup
Boil 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup sugar and a two quartered chiles (Fresnos are called for, but any hot chile works fine) in a sauce pan until the sugar is dissolved. Cool and use. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a couple weeks.
image: Quinn Dowmbrowski