Photo by Amanda Weeks/Coffee or Die Magazine.
Some people eagerly wait all year for Halloween — they love the costumes, the decorating, and all the festivities. For others, the season is all about avoiding the onslaught of sugar and horror movies. Regardless of where you fall on the Halloween spectrum, it’s also a great excuse to imbibe in some tasty caffeinated drinks and adult beverages. Why not combine them with a dead man’s kiss?
As the name suggests, this beverage is dark and dastardly. While its dark color makes the cocktail festive enough to serve at your next Halloween party, a dead man’s kiss is as simple to make as it is to drink. All you need is black vodka and an espresso shot, with the option of simple syrup for those desiring something a little bit sweeter.
Did you get hung up on the “black vodka” part? While you can scour your local liquor stores in hopes of finding that elusive bottle of Blavod, the sole commercial black vodka on the market, you’ll likely wind up empty-handed. However, there are methods for crafting your own black vodka, such as using black rice or food-safe black dye.
DIY black vodka offers two distinct advantages: It costs less, and you can use any flavor of vodka you want. If you’re looking to balance the strong taste of espresso, a marshmallow- or vanilla-flavored vodka would work well. For something richer, there’s chocolate vodka. Making your own means you’re in control of the flavor, which can be a huge benefit when crafting a cocktail.
If you go the black-dye route, powder food coloring is the best option. Alcohol can be finicky about what it combines with, and gels and liquids have a tendency to sit on top of the alcohol or separate quickly. Powder food coloring is hydrophilic, meaning it’ll be soluble in alcohol. Use only one-half teaspoon of powder per 2 ounces of vodka — anything more and you run the risk of an unpleasant artificial taste or random dark spots in your drink. Then give it a good stir, and you’ll have jet-black vodka.
Using black rice takes longer but is a little more forgiving. All you’ll need is a quart-sized jar, a cup of black rice, a strainer, and your vodka of choice. Rinse the rice, then place it in the jar and fill the rest of the jar with vodka. Let it sit in a cool, dry place. Strain the rice once the color is infused — this averages about eight hours, but feel free to leave it overnight or for up to three days.
Halloween isn’t for everyone, but with caffeine and alcohol, everything’s a little more bearable.
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