Spooky spirits


September 29, 2022

Hallows Cocktail on a decorative silver plate with lantern and crystal glasses. Spooky vapors in the background.

Scary-good Halloween cocktails for a ghoulish get-together

photographs by Justin Driscoll | recipes by Mena Killough

Who says the kids should have all the fun? Mixologist, herbalist and distiller Mena Killough shares a few potent potions for the 21-and-up crowd to celebrate the spooky holiday. You might know Killough from Unknown Brewing, where she was head distiller before the business sold to Rocky Mount’s HopFly Brewing Co. In 2021, she won Discovery Channel’s Moonshiners: Master Distillers, Absinthe Edition. Before her work in distilling, Killough studied at Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine, with a focus on holistic medicine. Her passion for herbalism spills over into her spirit and cocktail creations. Today, she works as a freelancer for distillers and cocktail bars.

The Hollows

(pictured above)

2 ounces bourbon

1/4 ounce spiced pumpkin syrup (see recipe below)

2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters 

orange peel for garnish

Add spiced pumpkin syrup, bitters and bourbon to a rocks glass, then fill with ice. Gently stir well. Twist orange peel to express the oils, then drop into glass.

Spiced pumpkin syrup 

2 cups sugar

1 cup boiling water

2 tablespoons canned or fresh pumpkin puree 

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice

Combine sugar and spice in a heatproof mixing bowl. Add hot water, followed by the pumpkin puree. Mix well and pour into a bottle or Mason jar. Refrigerate for up to two weeks. 

Black Viper 

1 1/2 ounces vodka or gin

1 1/2 ounces dry vermouth

1/4 ounce black cherry juice

pinch of activated charcoal

2 blackberries, plus additional for garnish

Muddle blackberries and charcoal in a mixing glass. Add black cherry juice, vermouth, and your spirit of choice. Fill glass with ice, and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass and add a blackberry garnish. 

Kill Devil Rum Punch on a decorative silver plate in punch bowl and full glass with star anise garnish. There are spooky vapors in the plate with moss.

Kill Devil Rum Punch 

serves 8-10

1 750 ml bottle of silver rum

10 ounces Montenegro amaro  

32 ounces blood orange soda

20 ounces black tea

4 ounces orange juice

6 ounces lime juice

1 1/2 ounces amaretto

10 ounces apple cider

4 ounces water

2-3 ounces spiced pumpkin syrup (see recipe above)

1 Honeycrisp apple for garnish

star anise for garnish 

Mix all ingredients except spiced pumpkin syrup. Then, add syrup to taste. Chill until ready to serve. For the punch garnish: Cut the apple horizontally and dunk in lime juice. Add apple and star anise to punch before service.  SP

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