Beer, Wine & Spirits

Cocktails worth a raid of your kids' Halloween candy

Host a Halloween & spirits party this year
Host a Halloween & spirits party this year

While you're doing the requisite safety check of the kids' trick-or-treating haul, be sure to pocket a few pieces for your own after-hours consumption.

Candy and cocktails are a natural pairing. "When you talk about whiskey, you're talking about flavors of caramel and nuts. That's what's there," said Anthony Caporale, a brand ambassador for Drambuie. Rum comes from sugarcane, and fruit notes are dominant in others. That kind of crossover between a spirit's tasting profile and candy ingredients makes it relatively easy to come up with a combo that works.

"No question that this is a high-sugar experience," said Tom Geniesse, owner of Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit, which has locations in New York City and Westport, Conn. "But I would say that the best pairings involve contrasts of sweet and dry of some kind." Dark chocolate Hershey's Kisses or mini bars, for example, can play off rum better than they do a tannic red wine, he said.

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Not in the mood to mix? Wine, beer and straight spirits make for some easy pairings, too. (Check out the video above for five from Bottlerocket.)

Raid the Halloween stash with these 10 cocktail pairings in mind:

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Old-Fashioned: Enjoy a Snickers bar with this whiskey-based drink. "You have that caramel [in the candy], which is going to pair with all the really great flavors that the wood brings to that whiskey aging," said Caporale, who is also the host of the New York City fringe musical "The Imbible." Bourbon, specifically, will match well with the bar's peanuts.

Negroni: "The blend of the vermouth and Campari is very bitter, but also quite smooth," said Damien Aries, head bartender at the New York City location of the Experimental Cocktail Club. Go with a Milky Way bar, whose chocolate and caramel will balance the richness of the drink.

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Rusty Nail: Depending on your preferred ratio of Drambuie to whiskey, candy pairings might include Butterfinger or Heath bars, said Caporale. Swap the whiskey for rum if you'd prefer to dig into the candy corn.

Moscow Mule: The lighter combo of vodka, ginger beer and lime plays well with fruity candies, said Aries. His pick: Starburst.

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Manhattan: Definitely candy corn. "It will add a little sweetness," said Aries—and it plays nicely with the often-bitter combo of whiskey, vermouth and bitters.

Gin Martini: Go with a Mounds or Almond Joy. "The botanicals in gin actually work really, really well with coconut," said Caporale. Go with four parts gin to one part vermouth to balance out the chocolate, too.

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Vodka Martini: There's less pairing than incorporating here. Drop in a Halloween Peeps, said Caporale. It'll melt into the vodka, resulting in a marshmallow-flavored drink with a sugared rim. Other sweets—including gummy candies or Life Savers—could be added to the drink for flavor, said Dmitri Mitropoulos, general manager of Hyde Beach at the SLS South Beach in Miami.

Margarita: "Obviously the predominant flavors in a margarita are sweet and sour," said Caporale. Sour Patch Kids complement that perfectly.

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Daiquiri: Start out with the traditional kind—rum, lime juice and simple syrup. "Eat that with a [York] Peppermint Patty, and it's off the charts," said Caporale. "You're basically making a mojito in your mouth." No muddling mint leaves required.

Irish Coffee: With a rich combo of coffee and whiskey, "sweet and minty" treats like Junior Mints are a good bet, said Aries.