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Drink DuJour: Haunting Spirits

Pumpkin butter, apple cider and more create three festive cocktails for the season

The air is crisp, the pumpkins are carved, the haute Halloween treats are purchased—go on, you deserve a stiff drink. New York restaurants are happy to oblige.

“Halloween is a celebration of so many symbols,” says Remi Laba, co-owner of New York’s Bagatelle restaurant. “We found that the Calico Jack’s fig-aged whiskey base captures the dark side of this god-forsaken day, warming the blood with a dark feel, yet yummy taste.” Très creepy.

Served over skull-shaped ice cubes, the Calico Jack certainly does embody the spirit of the season. Visitors dining at Bagatelle over Halloween weekend can enjoy the restaurant’s annual decorations for an even more festive holiday, and it’s far from the only restaurant embracing its ghoulish side. This year, even more restaurants are offering limited-edition drinks and menu items meant to invoke goblins and ghosts.

“Aside from using pumpkin butter, the Pumpkin Head cocktail incorporates fall-friendly spices like cinnamon, and the ginger ale adds a spicy note,” says Johnny Swet, partner at Jimmy at The James New York. “We also added other fall cocktails to the menu that incorporate similar flavors, such as walnut and maple syrup.”

Over at David Burke Kitchen, beverage director Connor Burke tapped a seasonal favorite for their holiday drink offering, the Bobbing for Caramel Apples. “For me, apple cider is the best fall drink,” said Burke. “Any time we can work it into a cocktail around Halloween is fantastic.” And it’s far more civilized than actual bobbing for apples.

The creepy concoctions can be made at home, too, with the following recipes. Try if you dare.

Pumpkin Head

1 oz. Tito’s vodka
1 oz. Drambuie liquor
1/2 oz. Lime juice
1 oz. Orange juice
Bar spoon of pumpkin puree
Combine ingredients and shake with ice, then strain into a tall glass. Add ice and stir in hard cider, then garnish with an orange slice. 

Calico Jack

The Calico Jack cocktail at New York’s Bagatelle restaurant

50 ml Bourbon whiskey aged with figs
10 ml Capim Santo infused with lemon
15 ml of citrus tonic
Combine Bourbon whiskey, Capim Santo, and citrus tonic. Serve over skull-shaped ice.

Bobbing for Caramel Apples

1.5 oz. Stoli Salted Caramel vodka
.75 oz. Stirrings Apple Pucker
Frozen apple cubes to use as ice
Pour vodka and Apple Pucker over “apple ice,” then top with apple cider.