When choosing to create a set of cocktails, you can start from a lot of different places. You can center the menu on a particular spirit, a season, or even on a technique. For this Halloween season, Masa Urushido of New York’s Saxon + Parole created a cocktail list based completely on phobias, which when you think about it, is just about perfect. What better way to face one’s fear than to drink through it?
We sat down with Urushido to get the inside scoop on what it was like to create a set of cocktails all based on what scares people the most.
On the origin of the theme: “I wanted the drinks to evoke the spooky element that Halloween is known for, but keep them refined and approachable—after all, we want people to enjoy the drinks and not be too frightened off! Once we decided on the phobia theme, we honed in on a spirit based on the type of cocktail that could best match the phobia.”
On the cocktails themselves: “For example, a twist on a dark and stormy could really play nicely to the fear of darkness, and a richer, espresso-infused Sugar Island Spiced Rum added the perfect touch. The Berry Transfusion uses a beet grenadine that looks like blood and travels down the ice like blood through veins (gory, yet refined!). Ménage a Trois Berry Vodka was an ideal choice for this because it syncs with the berry flavor profile of this drink without any overwhelming sweetness. Finally, Maker’s 46 was an obvious choice for pyrophobia (fear of fire); this bourbon features seared French staves to create a bolder, richer flavor, so it was fun coming up with a cocktail focused around that.”
Check out the recipes below, then say thanks to Urushido for making sure you’ll never suffer from the fear of not having a good cocktail ready.
Up in Flames (Pyrophobia)
- 2 parts Maker’s 46
- ¾ part lemon juice
- ¾ part of grilled peach sherbet*
- 2-3 mint leaves for garnish
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with mint leaves and top off the drink by flaming ground cinnamon.
*Sherbet: Grill 2-3 peaches (or any seasonal fruit) until nicely charred. Mix the peaches in a blender with equal parts white sugar and strain.
Berry Transfusion (Hematophobia)
- 1 ½ parts Ménage à Trois Berry Vodka
- ¾ part fresh lemon juice
- ¼ part crème de cassis
- ½ part of beet grenadine*
- Gooseberries and mint for garnish
Method: Shake vodka, lemon juice and crème de cassis with ice and strain into a stemless wine glass filled with crushed ice. Top with beet grenadine. Garnish with gooseberries and mint.
*Beet grenadine: ½ cup of concentrated beet juice, 1 ½ cups of pomegranate juice, 2 cups of sugar. Heat and reduce until the mixture becomes a syrup.
The Gravedigger (Necrophobia)
- 1 ½ parts CRUZ Reposado Tequila
- ½ part Mezcal
- ¾ part Fino Sherry
- ½ part pear liqueur
Method: Stir ingredients and strain over large ice cube. Garnish with a lemon twist (optional).
Midnights’ Shadow (Achluophobia)
- 2 parts espresso-infused Sugar Island Spiced Rum*
- ½ part ginger beer
- ½ part fresh lime juice
- Candied ginger for garnish
Method: Shake espresso or coffee-infused Sugar Island Spiced Rum and lime juice over ice and strain into a Collins glass. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wheel and candied ginger.
*Espresso-infused spiced rum: Mix ¼ cup of ground espresso or coffee with room temperature Sugar Island Spiced Rum. Let the mixture soak for 30 minutes. Strain and set aside.
The Wicked Web Tonic (Arachnophobia)
- 1 ½ parts Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila
- 3 dashes of celery bitters
- Top off with herbal tonic water (such as Fever Tree)
- Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish
- Cubed ice
Method: Pour Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila into Collins glass over ice; top with tonic water and stir. Add dashes of celery bitters and garnish with fresh rosemary. For festive ice, freeze overnight with toy spiders or other ‘insects’.