Must the Pumpkin Spice Flow? Serve These Halloween Tipples Instead

The Casa Crazy Eye cocktail, courtesy of Casamigos Tequila.

I have a question for you since Halloween is less than two weeks away. No, it isn’t, “Are you ready?” I just want to know if you’ve overloaded your palate with pumpkin spice everything yet. Pumpkin spice coffee drinks, pumpkin spice beers, cocktails with cute names and healthy doses of pumpkin spice, pumpkin spice cookies… People lose their minds sprinkling and slathering everything in pumpkin spice this time of year, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But why not offer fall/Halloween beverages that don’t exist solely as delivery systems for pumpkin spice? There may not be [read: there definitely is not] a shortage of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove or allspice, but we need to preserve all of our precious resources. They may say that the spice must flow, but these cocktails are perfect for celebrating Halloween, and there’s nary a dose of fall’s official flavoring to be found in any of them. Save your spices, use your pumpkins to carve jack-o'-lanterns for your Halloween promotions instead (and maybe plan and promote a pumpkin carving contest *hint hint*), and serve up these pumpkin spice-free sips.

[Read in a spooky voice] Cheers!


Smokin’ Head Caesar cocktail courtesy of Crystal Head Vodka - Recipes without pumpkin spice
Smokin’ Head Caesar

Recipe and image courtesy of Crystal Head Vodka

Halloween cocktails can take the form of familiar drinks and still be served in the spirit of the holiday. All it takes to add a bit of otherworldly appeal to the Smokin’ Head Caesar (or Smokin’ Head Bloody Mary) is a clear glass in the shape of a skull. When Halloween is over you can serve this same Caesar or Bloody Mary in standard glassware; win-win!

  • 2 oz. Crystal Head Vodka
  • 5 oz. Clamato (Caesar) or tomato juice (Bloody Mary)
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • Tiny dash of liquid smoke
  • ¼ tsp. Salt for rim
  • ¼ tsp. Pepper for rim
  • ½ tsp. Smoked paprika for rim

Mix together salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Rub the rim of the glass with a lemon wedge and dip into salt, pepper and smoked paprika mix. In a shaker half-filled with ice, add all ingredients and shake well. Strain into the pre-rimmed glass filled with ice. Garnish however you see fit. Crystal Head Vodka recommends celery and lime wheel; bacon-wrapped mini meatballs with 2 hot peppers; scallop and hot pepper skewer; or spicy halved long bean skewer as garnish.


Apple of My Irish cocktail created by Pamela Wiznitzer of Seamstress NYC - Recipes without pumpkin spice
Apple of My Irish

Created by Pamela Wiznitzer of Seamstress in NYC

The flip-side of the Smokin’ Head Caesar’s presentation is taking a less familiar cocktail and serving it with a healthy dose of restraint. Normally, the macabre takes center stage when serving Halloween cocktails, but the Apple of My Irish eschews expected iconography for a presentation that’s more about fall, fall flavors and a nod to trick or treating.

Shake with ice. Garnish with a skewer of caramel and apple slices.


Amazombie cocktail created by Kate Perry from Rumba in Seattle, WA - Recipes without pumpkin spice

Recipe created by Kate Perry from Rumba in Seattle, WA; Image courtesy of Novo Fogo

Why should you, your staff and your guests have all the dress-up fun during October? Get creative, have your staff help out with prep, and put a cocktail in a costume. The Amazombie takes the cocktail-in-a-bag trend one step further and places the bag in a box, making it a cocktail-in-a-bag-in-a-box, technically speaking.

Build as you would a traditional Zombie tiki cocktail: put all of the ingredients in a blender, adding 6 oz. of crushed ice last, and blend at high speed for no more than 5 seconds. Pour into plastic bag, add ice cubes to fill, insert straw and seal bag. Place bag in novelty box with straw sticking out. Extra points for decorating novelty boxes for the occasion, like “packing tape” around the box touting the name of the cocktail or your bar’s logo.

For the açaí grenadine:

Açaí grenadine is equal parts acai juice and sugar, simmered and well strained. Add 1/2 oz. Novo Chameleon Cachaça and a dash of orange flower water.


Cachaça Zombie cocktail courtesy of Novo Fogo - Recipes without pumpkin spice
Cachaça Zombie

Recipe and image courtesy of Novo Fogo

As with the Smokin’ Head Caesar, all it takes to dress up this cachaça-based riff on a tiki classic is the right glassware. Since this is a Brazilian take on the Zombie, consider skipping the skull glassware and use a zombie head mug instead.

Shake all ingredients and pour over crushed ice into a tiki mug.


Casa Crazy Eye cocktail courtesy of Casamigos Tequila - Fall recipes without pumpkin spice

Casa Crazy Eye

Recipe and image courtesy of Casamigos Tequila

Do you remember going to Halloween parties at a friend’s house as a kid, sitting in a circle with your eyes closed, and being creeped out as you were passed various cold food items described by parents as body parts? Ah, childhood! This Casamigos cocktail is a bit of an homage to that gory game, making use of skewered “eyeballs” for garnish.

  • 1.5 oz. Casamigos Blanco Tequila
  • 2 oz. Lychee liqueur
  • 0.25 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • 4 Basil leaves
  • Thick rim made of equal parts salt, sugar and Oreo cookie crumbs (see note below)
  • Luxardo cherries and lychee balls for “eyeball” garnish

Combine all ingredients in a tin shaker. Muddle herbs and add ice. Shake vigorously for 12 to 15 seconds. Fine strain into a small Martini glass and garnish by placing two Luxardo cherries inside two lychee balls to make them look like eyeballs, then run a skewer through them.

To add sugar, salt and Oreo rim:

Wet rim of glass with lime wedge and agave nectar, and roll rim through mixture.


Casa Crawler cocktail courtesy of Casamigos Tequila - Recipes without pumpkin spice
Casa Crawler

Recipe and image courtesy of Casamigos Tequila

Not every Halloween costume is gory or creepy, and neither is every Halloween-themed cocktail. The Casa Crawler is more about being cute and refreshing than scaring anyone. In a word, adorable. In another word, refreshing. I could keep doing that but let’s move on…

  • 2 oz. Casamigos Blanco
  • 1 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz. REAL Blueberry Purée
  • 8-10 Mint leaves
  • Gummy worms, Pop Rocks and mint sprig for garnish

Combine all ingredients into tin shaker and add ice. Shake vigorously for 8 to 10 seconds. Fine strain into Collins glass and add ice. Garnish with mint sprig, Pop Rocks and 3 to 4 sour gummy worms.


Mr. Purple cocktail courtesy of Mr. Purple in NYC - Recipes without pumpkin spice
Mr. Purple

Recipe and image courtesy of Mr. Purple in NYC, and available there throughout October

Hey, remember way back two whole recipes ago when I mentioned the old Halloween game and one recipe ago when I mentioned that not all Halloween cocktails have to be scary or gory? The Mr. Purple falls into both of those categories while remaining subtle. It’s purple, it’s delicious, it’s not over the top, and if you want to have some fun with it you can claim the cranberries are eyeballs. Happy Halloween!

  • 1.5 oz. Casamigos Reposado Tequila
  • 5.75 oz. Mr. Purple Punch Mix (see recipe below)

Mix and chill. Pour into a highball and add 6 cranberries to glass.

For the Mr. Purple Punch Mix (makes 5 servings)

Mix all ingredients, bottle, and chill until ready to use.

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