It doesn’t matter how old you are. Halloween is always the perfect excuse to gorge yourself on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Skittles, Pop Rocks, and Kit Kats. If you grab a handful of mini Snickers and stuff them in your pocket in July everyone will stare at you and murmur under their breath. But, if you do the same thing on October 31st (or for the whole first week of November) nobody bats an eye. Halloween is a time for dressing up as cultural icons and SpongeBob Squarepants, visiting haunted houses (or staring at them from the safety of the street), and eating too many chocolate, caramel, and peanut butter filled treats.
Guess what? Bartenders are just like you. They too can’t resist the siren song of M & M’s and Twix on All Hallow’s Eve. But, where you might pair your Almond Joy with a glass of milk, they pair theirs with cocktails. That’s why we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us their favorite booze and candy pairings.
“I made an Old Fashioned using candy corn last year. I had cooked down the candy corn into a syrup and used that as the sugar component along with Belle Meade bourbon and Spiced chocolate bitters. The oaky and caramel characteristics of the bourbon paired well with the sweetness of the candy corn and the spiced chocolate bitters gave the cocktail and slight fall spice component that worked out nicely.”
“I’m not a huge fan of Halloween candy. Candy Corn? Gross. But I love Fall pies like pumpkin and pecan. I think a nice side car for a slice would be a little snifter of brandy. Otherwise, a flip or a hot toddy would match pretty well.”
“Bourbon and dark chocolate are an amazing combo. The tangy bitterness of the cocoa with that sweet n spicy sip of over-proofed whiskey hits all the right notes and gets you ready to go out and pursue whatever tricks or treats you desire. And apologize to your Lyft driver after that.”
“One of my all-time favorite pairings is Lustau East India Sherry and a Snickers bar. I’ve converted some Sherry (and some Snickers) skeptics with this one. Thank me later.”
“I’ll say Irish Coffee – the bitterness from the coffee can balance most of the sweet candy and the cream goes well with most of the cocktail as well. I can imagine on a chilly day you wouldn’t mind dipping your Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup into Irish Coffee.”
Sarah Mengoni, lead bartender at Double Take in LA
“I would pair Good & Plenty candy with a Zombie cocktail! Throw this tiki classic in glass adorned with a scary face and there just isn’t a better Halloween cocktail. The black licorice flavor found in Good ‘n’ Plenty candies mimics the flavor of one of the Zombies original ingredients, Pernod.”
“Candy is always a fun addition to cocktails. Datz recently experimented with Pop Rocks on top of frose (frozen rose). The popping of the candy in addition to the chill of the cocktail was a party in my mouth. I also wouldn’t mind an Old Fashioned with a root beer DumDum lollipop to stir around the glass. The essence of root beer blends perfectly with the bourbon.”
“Rock candy and whiskey have long been paired with one another. Using rock candy is a fun way of making Old Fashioned type drinks. Use a stick of candy instead of a sugar cube or simple syrup in your recipe. You can use it to stir and sweeten your drink.”
“When I was younger anytime I saw a bowl of Halloween candy I would dig until I found a box of DOTS gumdrops. It was the I realized I am a huge fan of texture and, to be honest, sweets. I would probably pair a well-made Tom Collins with them. The citrus of the candy goes well with the refreshing citrus of the beverage, plus the classic Collins effervescence adds another mouth feel while simultaneously cleansing the palate for the next gumdrop.”
“I would pair an old fashion with chocolate bitters a splash of amaretto and a coconut rim. Rum based cocktails pair well with Halloween candy because rum is a sugar cane based spirit so given its origin is from the same place as our Halloween candy, the pairing makes sense. I personally favor Almond Joy candy bars, so a dark rum based old fashion cocktail with some chocolate and coconut and almond components would put me in good spirits to celebrate Halloween.”