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Amateur Hour

by | Oct 7, 2019

My favorite holiday is coming up, which means we can get a bit creative in the drink department to make some fun, spooky Halloween cocktails. Here are some favorite cocktail additions you can use to creep out your friends!

Squid ink

Squid ink is primarily used as a coloring agent for pastas and risotto, but you can use this squid escape-mechanism to dye your cocktails a rich black. Squid ink contains proteins, minerals, amino acids, lipids, and dopamine (a calming neurotransmitter), and adds a clean taste of the sea while not overpowering your drink.

Activated charcoal powder

This is a fine, odorless powder normally used in emergency rooms to absorb toxins in overdose cases, but there are also a bevy of (unproven) medicinal and cosmetic uses for this black powder. Activated charcoal may be able to assist kidney function by filtering out undigested toxins and drugs, which makes it the perfect ingredient to add to an alcoholic beverage. Adding it to a cocktail creates some dramatic dark contrast, but this darling of the bartending world should be used with caution, as it can negatively interact with certain medications.

Blood orange

The name alone is spooky! This mutation of the orange has a flavonoid pigment not normally found in citrus that gives its flesh that bloody color, and a more raspberry taste. Save a slice for a ghoulish garnish.


These small stonefruit are native to southeastern China, so you most often find them here peeled, pitted and canned. The lichee has white flesh and is roughly the size of an eyeball. You can make red pupils by stuffing a cherry into the hole left by the pit. Add a couple floaters to a tall glass for a disgusting science-lab effect. And they’re totally delicious, too!

Dry ice

Dry ice, the solid form of carbon dioxide, has a freezing point of -109 degrees fahrenheit, which makes it dangerous to eat or touch, but safe to use in cocktails. It produces its signature eerie vapor and adds no flavor, though you may detect a little carbonation from the CO2 gas. You can usually get dry ice from your local grocery store.

Smoking Sage or Rosemary

A good alternative to dry ice is dried sage or rosemary, which can be burned for a smoldering smokey effect, and they smell earthy and delicious.

Gummy worms

Add these delicious creepy-crawlies to your ice-cube tray and freeze. Now you can keep your dirty cocktail creepy and cool.

Edible Luster Dust

Made from sugar, cornstarch, and mica-based pearlescent pigments, edible luster dust or glitter can be added to cocktails to create a sparkly swirl. You can get this ingredient wherever baking goods are sold, but make sure the word “edible” is included in the product name.

photo/Jessie Lacey

The Wild Wood Nymph

The Wild Wood Nymph In a shaker filled with ice, combine 1 oz. maple syrup, 3 oz. vodka, and 1 oz. Disaronno liquer. Pour into a cocktail glass and add the garnishes. I use a candied shitake mushroom, dehydrated lime wheel, and smoking sage to garnish, with a cinnamon-sugar-chipotle rim. The floating garnishes look like a bunch of twigs and dead leaves from the woods — perfect!

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