Sure, in the United States, Halloween gets all of the attention. But south of the border, the big celebration occurs two days later, on November 2. El Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is an important holiday in Mexican culture. It’s a day for honoring and remembering the dead. It’s also a time of celebration, filled with skulls, skeletons, altars, and lots of food and drink. Traditional Dia de los Muertos drinks include hot chocolate, atole (a hot beverage made of toasted masa, sugar, and cinnamon), and champurrado (chocolate atole).
Of course, perhaps your ancestors’ would prefer to drink something a little more creative. That’s why we’ve put together this list of Dia de Los Muertos-inspired cocktails that will please any spirits on this holiday—or just about any day. So break out the Pan de Muertos (Day of the of the Dead bread), sugar skulls, and tamales, and offer up a hearty ¡salud! to those who are gone but not forgotten.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Mercadito at Red Rock Resort, Las Vegas.
2 oz. Sauza Hornitos tequila
½ oz. fresh lime
1 oz. prickly pear puree
2 dashes rose water
½ oz. agave nectar
Combine all ingredients in shaker with ice. Shake well. Rim chilled cocktail glass with ancho salt. Strain drink into glass.
*For ancho salt, combine 2 parts ancho chili powder, 1 part kosher salt, and ½ part granulated sugar.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Camus Cognac.
1½ oz. Camus VSOP Elegance cognac
¾ oz. black raspberry liqueur
½ oz. Sobieski Raspberry vodka
½ oz. lemon juice
2 dashes of orange bitters
Combine all ingredients except lemon peel in shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Twist lemon peel into a rosette and place on skeleton pick for garnish.
SWEETENED TEQUILA COFFEE
Recipe and photo courtesy of Jenni Rivera La Gran Señora Tequila.
8 – 10 oz. coffee
1½ – 2 tbs. Nestle La Lechera sweetened condensed milk
1½ oz. La Gran Señora Tequila Blanco
Pour coffee of your choice into cup. Add condensed milk and tequila. If desired, add a pinch of cinnamon.
THE BLEEDING HEART
Recipe and photo courtesy of David Burke Fishtail, New York City.
2 oz. gin
1 oz. dry vermouth
1 slice pickled beet
Combine gin and vermouth in shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into cocktail glass. Cut beet into shape of heart. Using cocktail pick, add beet to drink; beet will bleed into the glass when it’s pierced.
¾ part Solbeso cacao spirit
¾ part Cointreau
¾ part fresh lemon juice
Cocchi Americano and absinthe foam*
Combine all ingredients except foam in a shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass. Top with Cocchi/absinthe foam.
*For foam, you will need an iSi cream whipper and a cream charger. Combine in whipper 1 gelatin sheet, 4 oz. Cocchi Americano, and ½ oz. absinthe.
BLOOD & SAND
Recipe and photo courtesy of Volstead Bar, Sandusky, OH.
¾ oz. Johnnie Walker Red
¾ oz. Cherry Heering
¾ oz. sweet vermouth
¾ oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
Combine all ingredients in a pint glass with ice. Shake well. Strain into a coupe glass.
1½ parts Pisco Portón
¾ part sweet vermouth
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 Campari ice cube*
Combine Pisco Portón, vermouth, and bitters in short rocks glass. Add Campari ice cube. If desired, sprinkle ice cube with small pinch of pink salt, which will spur the cube to melt.
*For Campari ice cube, freeze a 50/50 mixture of Campari and water overnight.
NOTE: For a special effect, use skull-shaped ice cubes. Williams-Sonoma offers a set of two here.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Sobieski.
1 oz. Sobieski Cytron vodka
1 oz. Sobieski Orange vodka
1½ oz. pink lemonade
½ oz. simple syrup
Combine all ingredients except gummy bear into a shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into a freshly iced highball glass. As a garnish, send the gummy bears to their final resting place.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Atlantic Fish Co., Boston, MA.
¼ oz. crème de violet
2 oz. Hendricks gin
½ oz. rosemary-and-basil-infused simple syrup
2 lemon wedges
Luxardo cherry liqueur
Combine crème de violet, gin, and simple syrup in shaker. Drizzle Luxardo cherry around edge of coupe glass and add small amount to bottom of glass. Double strain drink into glass. Garnish with lemon wedges.
Recipe and photo courtesy of HobNob Wines.
1 750-ml bottle HobNob Wicked Red
1½ cups spiced rum
3 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
2 oranges, zested
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons simple syrup
1 lime, zested
Combine all ingredients except sugar and orange slices in a large bowl. Refrigerated for at least an hour before serving. If available, add one large block of ice to the bowl. When ready to serve, stir well. Coat glass rims with sugar, and garnish with an orange slice. Serves 15.
Veni, Vidi, Bibi!
Altar photo by Rebecca L. Rhoades.