The night air is crisp, and the blue moon is full. Not only is it the weekend, but ghosts and ghouls are able to roam the earth for an extra hour, thanks to daylight saving time. It’s the scenic Halloween we’ve always fantasized about; the kind we see in film, that excite and fill the air with eerie delight. In this moment, life is finally imitating art.
The perfect Halloween doesn’t exi—no really, it doesn’t. The universe will not allow it. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, haunted houses and hayrides, parties, and even trick-or-treating in some counties have all been canceled. Sometimes, when life imitates art, it does it in a fashion that is far more terrifying than anything we could have pictured. Pandemics were much more entertaining when they involved zombies on my television.
Because of this, I’ve compiled a list of alcoholic beverages to pair with horror movies in an attempt to salvage any Halloween spirit (although I’m assuming the ‘Spirit Halloween’ chain is having a very successful season, moving into all of the abandoned local businesses). If we can’t enjoy all the season’s offerings physically, we can appreciate them while safely remaining at home, with a good buzz. Years of bartending, obsessing over horror, and social distancing before it was considered healthy have primed me for this occasion. This is my Magnum Opus.
Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
We’ll start off strong with a movie that will make you feel festive regardless of circumstance. We’re pairing Trick ‘r Treat with a Candy Corn Martini. Candy corn, although controversial in taste, is a staple of Halloween tradition that we have to embrace. If not, Sam will have our heads. You can find the recipe for this sweet and easy cocktail here.
Get Out (2017)
Get cozy on your couch, turn out Get Out, and sink with a Hot Toddy. Perfect for chilly weather, this hot whiskey drink is an excellent way to warm you up [and even alleviate a common cold]. The recipe for a Hot Toddy varies by personal preference, but consists of any irish whiskey, hot water, lemon, honey, and cloves.
Nightmare on Elm Street (Any Installment)
We’re joining Freddy in the boiler room with an aggressive Boiler Maker. Simple yet evil, a Boiler Maker consists of half a pint of any light beer, and a shot of whiskey dropped into the pint. If this is a bit too evil for you, you can join Nancy’s mother in the kitchen with any form of a vodka cocktail.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
We’re going for a campfire drink with a bite. This Campfire Mule is a formidable drink to get lost in.
It (1990 or 2017)
This Caramel Bourbon Rootbeer Float will have you feeling like a kid again in minutes. But most importantly, you’ll float, too.
Carnival of Souls (1962)
Carnival of Souls is an incredibly unsettling horror film. It’s gritty, slow progression into madness can be favorably paired with a Sidecar. Specifically, a fall-forward Cider Sidecar.
The Exorcist (1973)
We’re getting innovative to match the caliber of The Exorcist, and pairing it with a Devil’s Margarita. Mixing wine and tequila can be a dangerous combination, so if you’re feeling a little uncertain, you can always pick up some old-fashioned church wine to ward off possession.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
A nice chianti…with some fava beans. You know why.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
A Dark and Stormy is the perfect drink to make you feel like you’re warming up in a British bar after a night of backpacking through backwoods. It usually consists of two ounces of dark rum, mixed with ginger beer and few dashes of bitters, garnished with a lime wedge.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
An Old Fashioned with a twist? Sounds about right. As long as there isn’t any tannis root, and it isn’t made by your creepy old neighbors, you should survive. You can find the recipe for a Rosemary Old Fashioned here.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
An excellent pairing for this ultimate horror movie is the Texas Gentleman, for obvious reasons.
Friday the 13th (I – VI)
Any crappy 80’s beer. Pretend you’re drinking it in the woods; get into character.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
As a Philadelphia native, I feel the best drink to pair with the Sixth Sense is our own Citywide. Although “bad, bad things” are apparently happening here, Citywides are not one of them. At almost any dive bar in the city, a “Citywide Special” is offered for $3-$5, that consists of a PBR can and a shot of Jim Beam. It’s an incredibly cheap and effective way to get a good buzz, and can easily be done at home. If you prefer high end alcohol, this probably isn’t the combination for you. If you want to experience some true Philadelphian chip-on-your-shoulder grit, give it a try.
The Shining (1980)
“So here’s what, you slip me a bottle of bourbon, a little glass and some ice. You can do that, can’t you Lloyd?” – Jack Torrance, The Shining.
Children of the Corn (1984)
We’re following up from The Shining with another Stephen King Interpretation. For Children of the Corn, we’re going to choose a buttery chardonnay. Oaked chardonnays tend to give us notes of cream, caramel, and vanilla. The oily texture of most chardonnays is what gives it a buttery description, much like buttered corn-on-the-cob.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
We’re heading back in the direction of festive cocktails, and pairing this timeless classic with a Gravedigger’s Cocktail. A mixture of hard cider, whiskey, and ginger beer, this beverage is perfectly refreshing after a long day of digging graves and possibly seeing a few zombies.
Evil Dead [I or II]
We’re getting forest-friendly and pairing Evil Dead with a Bramble. Crack open the Necromicon, summon some Deadites, and sip on this refreshing blackberry-infused cocktail.
Halloween (1978, or 2018)
For our final film on this list, we are giving in and going full-on basic. A perfect pairing for Halloween on Halloween, is a Pumpkin Martini. You’re stuck at home, anyway, so you might as well indulge in as many festive guilty pleasures as possible…because besides Michael, who else is watching you?
If none of these drinks entice you or if you’re not a fan of social lubricants, I recommend checking out halloween2020.org for family-friendly festive options, listed per county according to COVID-19 risk levels. Regardless, I hope you have a delightfully dreadful Halloween.