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9 San Diego Bars Serving Halloween-Themed Cocktails

Start the night with Bourbon & Apples and end with a Corpse Reviver


Herb & Wood's Bourbon & Apples cocktail

Halloween has its own perfect cocktail: the Corpse Reviver. It’s an aggressive, boozy mix of 1.5 ounces brandy and 3/4 ounces each of Calvados (Calvados Coquerel is a great, affordable option), and sweet vermouth. Though some folks find it a bit unimaginative, it’s one of my favorite cocktails. Created more than a century ago, it’s spawned multiple offspring. Far more popular—and easier on the palate—than the original is the Corpse Reviver #2, a lighter, prettier option made with gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice, and a dash absinthe.

And, yes, there’s a #3, a #4, a #5 (tequila!), and a bunch of other variations. There’s even a #28.

Starlite's four "potent potions"

Try the original—if you dare. But you can’t go wrong with a Corpse Reviver #2, which two cocktail spots have on special this Halloween: Cusp in La Jolla is serving it for $6.66. Saltbox has an even better deal: $6.

Last Halloween, a friend and I worked our way through Starlite’s four-cocktail “potent potions” menu. They’re all recommended and available through Oct. 31. The Graveyard Park is a take on a Corpse Reviver #2, made with Triplum orange liqueur and Old Harbor San Miguel Southwestern gin. The Death in Provence features the appropriately named Farigoule thyme liqueur, topped off with prosecco. And the Mourning After includes Linie Aquavit (a spiced Nordic spirit), Bertina Elderflower liqueur, Luxardo Maraschino, ginger beer, Angostura bitters, lemon, and—spiders. And the Goodbody’s Morgue-A-Rita includes everything you’d assume, plus blood-orange and grapefruit juices.

Speaking of blood-red drinks, try Bar by Red Door’s Zombie Bus Stop, made red by a housemade beet falernum.

For something a little darker, Campfire’s Charred Parsnip gets its black hue from activated charcoal (don’t worry—it’s perfectly safe to drink). Galaxy Taco’s turning to the ocean for inspiration, adding black squid ink to the Mich’s Brew Michelada.

Bleu Boheme's Sleepy Hollow mezcal cocktail

Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant’s The Broomstick had me at the first three ingredients: Malahat spiced rum, amaretto, and pumpkin. Pomegranate, lime, and a sage-smoke garnish round things out. Try it for a mere $6 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 31.

Bleu Bohème’s Sleepy Hollow combines smokey mezcal with a rich allspice dram and an absinthe rinse. The cocktail is garnished with toasted, still-smoking rosemary.

When I was a kid, my mom would have hot apple cider waiting for us after trick-or-treating. For an adult version, try Herb & Wood’s Bourbon & Apples (Old Forester bourbon, honey and apple cider vinegar shrub, Velvet Falernum, and fresh lemon juice). And for a week, starting Saturday, Will Van Leuven is adding a special cocktail to the menu made with squash from the Little Italy Mercato as part of his farmer’s market series.

Got suggestions for a future post? Write to 2kellydavis@gmail.com.

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