Cocktails are magical.
They’re not witches brews, but they may well be the closest thing we have to them. Carefully mixed, stirred and shaken spirits, distilled from plants, combined with herbs and potions to create a drink that alters your state of mind? Sounds like magic to us.
To get in the Halloween spirit, we summoned some wicked cocktails from North Jersey bars and restaurants. Here's where to find them.
The Millburn Standard, Millburn
The Psychic Madam Ruby cocktail — a swirling purple drink served in a rounded glass — was designed to look like a crystal ball, said Jason Turon of the Millburn Standard. (And “Madam Ruby” is named after Turon’s business partner’s dog.) Each drink comes with a psychic reading card complete with a caricature of Ruby as a fortune teller. The drink is made with Larios 12 Botanicals gin infused with butterfly pea pod, mixed with Fever Tree tonic and garnished with juniper berries, rosemary, lemon wheels and edible stars.
The Are You Afraid of the Dark cocktail is Turon’s take on a carajillo — Licor 23, espresso and cardamom bitters. “Espresso cocktails are all the rage at the moment, and I love a little 90’s nostalgia,” he said. The name of the cocktail is also shaded in on the froth.
The Hocus Pocus is what Turon calls an “interactive” cocktail. It’s served in two parts. The main cocktail includes Absolut pear vodka and Joto Junmai sake, shaken and topped with prosecco. A vial of “Life Potion” Midori is served separately. “The customer gets to pour the Potion into the drink at the table. The actual Life Potion recipe from the movie is printed on the bottle,” said Turon.
The Kitchen Step, Jersey City
We loved The Kitchen Step’s “Hocus Pocus”-inspired martini trio last Halloween. This year, the Jersey City bistro is offering a cocktail called Murder Mystery Party, inspired by the game Clue. It combines tequila, blood orange juice, lime, plum puree and scarlet biters (those last ingredients should sound familiar to anyone who's played the game or seen the cult-classic movie). If you’re more of a whiskey drinker, try instead the Red Head From the Hayride, made with Misunderstood whiskey, carrot, lemon, beet and herb bitters.
Go: 500 Jersey Ave., Jersey City; 201-721-6115, kitchenstepjc.com.
Agave Cocina Mexicana, Wallington
The Hocus Pocus cocktail, so named for the beloved movie, at Agave is fresh and herbaceous, made of Malfy Con Limone gin, St. Germain, lime and butterfly pea tea syrup. The striking purple color of this cocktail may put you in mind of the dress worn by Winifred Sanderson. We think she would approve.
Other autumnal cocktails at Agave include Dulce Vida Blanco (sweet vermouth, Campari and angostura) and Up in Smoke (Bulleit bourbon, lime, pumpkin spice syrup and cinnamon syrup).
Go: 32 Locust Ave., Wallington; 973-246-8531, facebook.com/agavecocinamexicana32.
The serving of the Colomitos Coconut at Mexican restaurant Bitol includes a magic trick. Held in a sugar skull cup reminiscent of Dia de los Muertos, the cocktail is placed at your table and then lit on fire — a trick dreamed up by owner Cleber Caceres. The drink sputters and sparks before being doused by the server. The coconutty cocktail is made with Casa Noble tequila, Monte Alban mezcal, vanilla, butterfly pea, pineapple, coconut and Pink House Alchemy bitters.
Go: 1061 Bloomfield Ave., Clifton; 973-246-3558, bitolnj.com.
The River of Beer, Bloomingdale
The River or Beer's most macabre Halloween creation is called the Bloody Corpse. This cocktail's glass is dripping with a suspicious sticky red substance. (OK, it's actually Luxardo cherry juice.) The rest is made with gin, triple sec, lemon juice, house-made orange nectar and absinthe mist.
Go: 133 Main St., Bloomingdale; 973-750-1820, facebook.com/RiverOBeer.
Rebecca King is a food writer for NorthJersey.com. For more on where to dine and drink, please subscribe today and sign up for our North Jersey Eats newsletter.
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