Corpse Reviver, Death in the Afternoon, Deadly Sin–these eerily-dubbed cocktails sound like they were made for Halloween, even if they carry tame origins (take, for example, the inspiration of Rudolph Valentino’s 1922 bullfighter movie Blood and Sand for the name of the classic Scotch and orange juice libation). Today, bartenders across town are still finding ways to mix spook with spirits–and they aren’t afraid to have a little bit of fun while they’re at it. In honor of All Hallows Eve–and the celebrating you’ll no doubt begin doing this weekend–we present 10 frighteningly named cocktails in NYC.
10. The Deadly Hallows, The Smith, 55 Third Avenue
Comfort food is delivered in a multitude of shapes and sizes at this crowd-gathering locale, where nine-to-fivers and cafe commuters alike can take solace in progression, from roasted tomato soup to fried chicken. Seasonality extends to the bar, where mixologists took autumnal-focused cues from the Corpse Reviver’s apple brandy base for The Deadly Hallows ($13): a shaken apple brandy and black walnut liqueur concoction, served up and topped with baked apple bitters.
9. The Sleepy Hollow, Jane, 100 West Houston Street
If The Smith is the kid who opted for the Clash concert in lieu of making curfew, sister restaurant Jane was at home, acoustically strumming along to Nina Simone. The Greenwich Village eatery serves approachable, seasonally-driven American fare and cocktails with a “look or you’ll miss it” hint of refinement. The Sleepy Hollow ($13), an amber and maple rum-focused potion with a pumpkin cider floater, is no exception.
8. Spider, The Dead Rabbit, 30 Water Street
Given the gravity found in the establishment’s title, it’s no surprise that the team here is just as serious about their beverage program. The first floor’s Taproom serves up craft beer, bottled punch, and a comprehensive selection of whiskeys, and things only get boozier upstairs, where communal punch bowls and a list of nearly 75 cocktails welcome patrons. This Halloween, try the absinthe-dashed Spider ($14), a nutmeg-garnished carbonated medley of gin, mace tincture, and lemon sherbet.
7. Bloody Knuckle, Dutch Kills, 27-24 Jackson Avenue, Queens
This Long Island City spot quickly acquired destination status through its historically-driven cocktail selection and hand-cut ice offerings. It’s cracked ice that chills the Bloody Knuckle ($8), a brassy mix of rye, gin, and Aperol that is about as red as the vein-coursing Blood and Sand. While a train ride might be required in order to sample some of their Queens-inspired libations, the single digit cocktail prices alone (offered from 5 to 7p.m. Sunday through Thursday and all night Monday) make it worth the trek.
6. Red Means Run, Elsa, 217 East Third Street
A juxtaposition of romantic tea lights and industrial Edison bulbs illuminate this white-walled, “for locals-in-the-know” haunt, which values form as much as function (as evidenced by a Singer sewing machine bar centerpiece). This penchant for polished appearances reveals itself in the cocktails, too–the Red Means Run ($12), a shaker full of bourbon, Aperol, and rhubarb-rose water–is served on an ice block and adorned by a layered garnish of strawberry and cucumber.
5. Revenge of the Night Marcher, Clover Club, 210 Smith Street, Brooklyn
The motto behind the name of this Brooklyn cocktail haven–“who enters here leaves care behind, leaves sorrow behind, leaves petty envies and jealousies behind”–may not have taken into consideration the baggage of absolutely everyone. Retributions are high with the Revenge of the Night Marcher ($12)–an ode to the ghosts of ancient Hawaiian warriors and a coming together of Amaro CioCiaro, reposado tequila, and Cruzan Black Strap rum.
4. Murder on the Ebullient Express, Pearl & Ash, 220 Bowery
A wine and beer license is less about limitations and more about creativity for the cocktail list at one of the latest Bowery hot spots. Case in point is the Murder on the Ebullient Express ($12), a bright, botanical coupe of white port, Cocchi Americano, Bonal, and celery lime juice.
3. Escape to Witch Mountain, Fedora, 239 West Fourth Street
The eight tables found in this hip West Village hangout are surrounded by portrait photography and Chesterfield booths, where regulars congregate for dependable classics that boast “new kid in the neighborhood” riffs. Just one such play on tradition is the Escape to Witch Mountain 1975 ($13), an enveloping and herbaceous version of the Manhattan that barman Brian Bartels describes as no less composed than the three-act Halloween thriller flick: “Innocence in Act 1 (Bonal Gentiane), Fear in Act 2 (the unfamiliar and exotic Contratto Fernet), and Plot Twists in Act 3 (Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey with a lemon slasher twist).”
2. The Grim Reaper, Apartment 13, 115 Avenue C
Month-old Apartment 13 might be larger than most New York abodes (especially if you count the ground level 12-seat patio and second floor 35-seat terrace), but its laidback demeanor and encouragement of family-style dining proves its unshakeable coziness. The same imagination that fuels the kitchen (think American classics with Japanese and Caribbean influences) spills over to the bar, where ingredients like sage and heirloom Hubbard squash come face to face with Ommegang Scythe and Sickle beer and añejo tequila for The Grim Reaper ($13).
1. Zombie #6, Maison Premiere, 298 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn
Inspired by the watering holes dominating New York, Paris, and New Orleans, this Williamsburg oyster and absinthe mecca is as cool at 4 p.m. as it is at 2 a.m. The Green Fairy is ubiquitous–the bar’s absinthe fountain serves not only as a focal point but as an accomplice to cocktails such as the Zombie #6 ($12): a fusion of four rums, Apry, pineapple-lime syrup and–of course–absinthe, served in a frosted julep tin.