I love a themed cocktail. What are you going to name it? Which ingredients will you use? How are you going to garnish it? Those opportunities exist with every cocktail, but a theme can take it to the next level, and several Maine bars are doing so right now with an impressive array of Halloween-themed cocktails.

Kicking things off is Batson River. With the word “bat” in their name, they had to scare up some fun. I tried the delicious $14 In Your Head, their cleverly named take on a Zombie (Batson River Dixie Bull Rum, applejack brandy, crème de banane and passion fruit). Despite the name, however, there were no cranberries in sight.

They also have a $14 cocktail called Dead Weight, their version of a Corpse Reviver: Batson River Riparian Gin, Cocchi Americano (a quinine-flavored Italian aperitif wine), blood orange liqueur, root liqueur, absinthe and lemon. Both cocktails are available at their Portland and Kennebunk locations. Their Portland location will have Lady in the Moon Tarot readings on Friday, Oct. 29, and a Halloween DJ brunch (costumes welcome) on Sunday. Their Kennebunk location is throwing a Howl-o-Ween dog costume party on Sunday and offering Halloween-themed desserts all weekend.

The Zombie at Three of Strong Spirits. Photo courtesy of Three of Strong Spirits

Three of Strong Spirits (3OSS) also has a Zombie made with a blend of their rums for $10, as well as a $7 Witches’ Brew Punch and a $10 hot toddy variation called Rosemary’s Baby with Nightwater Dark Rum, rosemary-honey syrup, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and hot water in a rosemary-smoked glass. Given that they’re a rum distillery, though, I feel like they really missed the chance to have a Halloween cocktail called Red Rum. 3OSS will be participating in the East Bayside Halloween extravaganza benefitting Maine Needs on Saturday and will be joined by The Big Bad Food Truck and Twist.

Three of Strong Spirits might have skipped paying homage to “The Shining,” but Top of the East, TOTE, makes up for it with their $16 The Overlook, featuring Casamigos Blanco tequila, St. Germain (elderflower liqueur), Bluet (a Maine-made wild blueberry sparkling wine), simple syrup and lemon, served with a rim of raspberry puree and black lava salt. TOTE also has a $14 PSL Martini (pumpkin spice, vanilla vodka, and a hint of coffee and cream) as well as $8 Shipyard Pumpkinhead on draft.

Another cocktail inspired by a horror movie is the $13 Midian at Chaval, named after the cemetery in the cult horror classic “Nightbreed,” written and directed by Clive Barker and one of the favorite horror movies of Chaval owners Damian Sansonetti and Ilma Lopez. The Midian combines Stiggins’ Fancy rum with bourbon, black walnut, almond, golden raisins, coconut and lime.


Check out the spider garnish on the Black Widow Smash at Bolos in Brunswick. Photo courtesy of Bolos

Several of the cocktails I’ve mentioned are visually stunning, but my favorite presentation is The Black Widow Smash ($12) at Bolos in Brunswick: 1.5 ounces of El Buho mezcal, two muddled fresh blackberries and one rosemary sprig, a splash of fresh lemon juice, and 0.25 ounces of Patron extra-fine orange liqueur. Top with soda water and a splash of cranberry juice, then garnish with rosemary, blackberries and a ginormous spider (preferably a fake one).

If you prefer mixing your own cocktails, Vena’s Fizz House sells some special bitters flavors. Try The Edge of Darkness: two ounces of dark rum, one ounce fresh lime juice, an ounce ginger syrup and three drops of Bennett’s Exorcism Bitters. If you favor tequila, try their Scorpions’ Revenge, which combines an ounce of tequila, one ounce each of fresh lime juice and pineapple juice and two drops Bennett’s Scorpion Bitters, which has a real scorpion in the bottle.

Witch-ever cocktail(s) you choose, I wish you a safe and happy Halloween!

Retired diplomat Angie Bryan writes about Maine’s cocktail bars while making as many puns as her editor allows.

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