Whether a twist on spiced cider or apple pie, a riff on the king of Halloween candies, or a particularly strong brew, here's a selection of cocktails from some of L.A.'s most creative bartenders to help you out if you find yourself hosting a Halloween party instead of haunting someone else's. And, if you don't feel like making these yourself, you can always pay a visit to the bars that are mixing them.
4. Bobbing for Apples at La Cuevita
As La Cuevita's bartender Sol Trece explains, "Everyone knows about the traditional Halloween game in which kids submerge their faces in big bowls filled with water and try to catch the floating apples with their teeth. Since this cocktail is made with actual apple pie filling, if it's not properly strained, little pieces of apple will sneak through. But if they do, even better." Becherovka, an herbal liqueur, adds spicy notes with its bittersweet profile and the reposado tequila adds a warm, vanilla character thanks to the oak whiskey barrel aging process.
Bobbing for Apples
From: Sol Trece, La Cuevita
Note: This recipe calls for the bartender's choice of tequila; you can substitute your own favorite brand.
Makes: 1 drink
1.5 oz. Sino reposado tequila
.5 oz. Becherovka
.5 oz. fresh lemon juice
.5 oz. honey syrup (equal parts honey and water)
3 bar spoons of apple pie filling
1. Chill a coupe glass in the freezer.
2. For the honey syrup, combine equal parts water and honey, stirring until combined.
3. In a mixing glass, combine all ingredients and shake vigorously.
4. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
3. Candy Corn Old Fashioned at the Mixing Room
Few images are more evocative of Halloween than orange-yellow and white candy corn. At the Mixing Room in the JW Marriot at L.A. Live, Director of Beverage Drew Foulk opts for an infinitely simple, altogether classic cocktail -- the Old Fashioned -- but tweaks it for the holiday with the addition of simple syrup made with candy corn.
Candy Corn Old-Fashioned
From: Drew Foulk, the Mixing Room
Note: This recipe calls for the bartender's choice of bourbon; you can substitute your own favorite brand.
Makes: 1 drink
2 oz. Breaking and Entering bourbon
1 oz. candy corn simple syrup
Dash orange bitters
1. To make the candy corn simple syrup, add 1 part candy corn to 1 part water and simmer over low heat until candy corn pieces dissolve completely. Chill until needed.
2. In a mixing glass, stir bourbon, syrup and bitters with ice.
3. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
4. Garnish with an orange peel and a Luxardo cherry.
2. El Demonio at Corazon Y Miel
At Corazon Y Miel, mixologist Robin Chopra wanted to create " a drink that was strong, ominous and visually striking without being kitschy or pumpkin flavor." El Demonio, or the Demon, is a twist on the classic Corpse Reviver No. 2, substituting pisco for gin and leaving out the usual lemon juice so that the hibiscus ice sphere would create "an ominous red cloud as it melts away." You can buy Tivolo ice molds at Sur La Table or on Amazon. Dried hibiscus flowers are available at Mexican markets.
El Demonio Cocktail
From: Robin Chopra, Corazon y Miel
Note: This recipe calls for the bartender's choice of pisco; you can substitute your own favorite brand.
Makes: 1 drink
1 oz. Campo de Encanto pisco
1 oz. Lillet Blanc
.75 oz. dry curacao
Bar spoon absinthe
Dried hibiscus flowers
1. To make the hibiscus ice sphere, steep 1/4 cup dried hibiscus flowers in 1 cup of boiling water for 4 minutes to make concentrated hibiscus tea. Strain out the flowers. Once the mixture is cooled down to room temperature, pour hibiscus tea into ice sphere mold. Place in freezer overnight.
2. In a mixing glass, add pisco, Lillet Blanc, dry curacao, and absinthe.
3. Stir vigorously with ice.
4. Put hibiscus ice sphere in a rocks glass.
5. Strain and pour drink over giant hibiscus ice sphere and garnish with orange peel.
1. The Cider Mill at Son of a Gun
General manager Dan Scott is enthusiastic about the fresh-pressed cider they're using for the Cider Mill at Son of a Gun. As long as you find yourself some quality cider, it will do just fine. Nothing feels more like a crisp autumnal night than apples and spice, showcased here to delicious effect.
The Cider Mill
From: Dan Scott, Son of a Gun
Makes: 1 drink
1.5 oz. bourbon
.5 oz. lemon juice
.5 oz. cinnamon syrup
1 oz. apple cider
1. To make the cinnamon syrup, put cinnamon sticks in water and let simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the cinnamon sticks through a fine mesh strainer. Combine equal parts sugar and cinnamon water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Add bourbon, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup and apple cider in a tempered mug.
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3. Steam the mixture, or use pre-heated cider.
4. Top with freshly whipped cream and garnish with grated cinnamon and a whole cinnamon stick.
Lesley blogs at 12 Bottle Bar, tweets at @12BottleBar and is the author of the book "Gin: A Global History." Email her at email@example.com. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.