Eerie elixirs: Mastering special effects for Halloween drinks

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Halloween is a time for tricks and treats, but it doesn’t have to stop at decorations. Leveling up your Halloween drink menu is a great way to spook, trick and scare guests.

Adding special effects to Halloween drinks, from smoky, bubbly dry ice to creepy fake blood, is a great way to step up the spook factor.

Syringes filled with blood and spiders on a table.
Syringe cocktails. Photo credit: YayImages.

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Not all Halloween drinks have to be scary; drinks can be candy-inspired as well as kid-friendly.

When I throw a party, I always set up a bar cart or drink table so guests can help themselves to some of these tricky drink treats:

Candy cocktails

Fans of candy, cosmos and Cape Codder cocktails can kick it up a notch with these sweet drink garnishes.

A garnish of Halloween rock candy makes delicious, edible swizzle sticks for all kinds of drinks. Skewering gummy worms and candy corn on cocktail skewers also adds a sweet touch. 

For the drinks themselves, you can go with a candy flavor. A Tootsie Roll drink made with root beer and coffee liqueur tastes just like the candy.

You can also infuse vodka or rum with colorful, fruity candies overnight for colorful and flavorful drink mixers.

Another thing I love to do is top drinks with a puff of cotton candy. No one will be able to resist this childhood favorite.

A group of beakers filled with different colored liquids.
Mad scientist cocktails with dry ice. Photo credit: Feast + West.

Spooky, scary sips

Drinks with a scary vibe are great for scary Halloween parties with a theme of zombies, witches or mad scientists.

Dry ice is also perfect for ghostly graveyard gatherings and witchy events like a Hocus Pocus-themed party, as it causes the liquid to bubble and smoke from the glass or punch bowl, just like you’d expect an eerie elixir to do.

Dry ice cocktails are also great for a mad scientist-themed party that includes drinks served in beakers. Be sure to use safety gloves when handling dry ice. Bonus: It will also add to the mad scientist vibe.

Another one of my favorite drink tricks is swirling in sparkly edible glitter that will make drinks look like a shimmering witch’s potion.

A bottle of red liquid with a skull on it.
Bloody drink. Photo credit: Pexels.

Creepy special effects

If you’re going for a zombie theme or want to make your house seem like a hospital or laboratory gone bad, there are lots of fun special effects you can enact.

Fake body parts are always unnerving when used in food and drinks. Placing floating eyeballs into a drink or punch bowl is a great way to creep people out. You can also fill rubber gloves with water and freeze them to make hand-shaped pieces of ice to float in your punch bowl.

Fake blood is always chilling, especially in drinks. One of the ideas I find the creepiest are blood bags filled with a vampire red cocktail, such as a savory bloody Mary cocktail. You could also fill them with a transparent yellow drink to resemble urine for a creepy hospital vibe.

Guests will also delight in syringes filled with cherry red gelatin shots, another way to bring the creep factor to your drink table.

You can also dip the rims of glasses in a sticky, red substance like strawberry sauce to make it look like the rim is dripping with blood before filling them with your cocktail of choice.

Eerie yet elegant embellishments

A costumed dinner party with grown-up elegance is a great way to have some adult fun.

Black is an unusual color for drinks, making it another pretty yet spooky choice. You can use black glitter to swirl into cocktails and red wine to make them gloomier.

Even margaritas can get a rim of black salt or black sugar. Garnish them with a skeleton arm swizzle stick for another ghastly touch.

If you prefer to serve up classic martinis, these edible spider cocktail toppers make it look like a real spider is trapped in the drink. I love to stuff green olives with black olives to make them look like eyeballs.

I love using glassware to make drinks seem spookier. These reusable cocktail stirrers with gilded charms offer gloomy glamour, while these skeleton champagne flutes will give contrast to bubbly drinks like mimosas and champagne cocktails.

A purple glass with a skull on it.
Glow-in-the-dark drink. Photo credit: Unsplash.

Glow-in-the-dark garnishes

Fans of light-up and glow-in-the-dark gear might consider throwing a spooky space-themed party. Before the party, replace the light bulbs in your home with black light bulbs to make everything glow.

Glowing glassware, like this light-up skull mug is a great way to make regular drinks into Halloween drinks.

Get things started by filling glow-in-the-dark shot glasses with shots of tequila or your favorite shooters. You can also brighten things up with an LED light show by adding light-up ice cubes to your drinks.

Gin and tonic cocktails are great ones to serve as quinine, the main ingredient in tonic water, naturally glows in the dark.

A green drink in a glass next to a pumpkin.
Candy garnish. Photo credit: Pexels.

Cute, kid-friendly Halloween drinks

Not all Halloween drinks have to be macabre, though; children can still get in on the fun. 

Halloween-shaped ice cube trays can dress up drinks. Make frozen orange juice pumpkins or milk skulls and vampire teeth to add to glasses of punch.

Top drinks off with a set of monstrous wax lips, which should float on top of drinks. You can also skewer them with toothpicks to turn them into cocktail picks. Colored straws will also add a touch of Halloween fun to any beverage.

Combine these ideas or stick with a theme to serve up a Halloween drink menu that guests will remember all year long.

Based in Charlotte, N.C., Susannah Brinkley Henry is the cocktail content creator behind the blog Feast + West. Her work has been featured in Southern Living, Oprah Daily, Buzzfeed, and more. In 2019, her website was a finalist in the Saveur Blog Awards for Best Entertaining Blog. As a professional graphic designer, photographer, writer, and recipe developer, Susannah helps home bartenders and drink enthusiasts level up their cocktail skills.

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