Halloween is associated with three things: monsters and ghosts wandering the streets, bags and bags of candy, and alcohol poisoning. That's because once we grow past trick-or-treating age, Jaeger and Miller replace Hershey's and Reese's for many of us. But your oh-so-clever Jersey Shore costume doesn't mean you have to drink yourself into a stupor on cheap hooch. If you go to Mario's Double Daughter's Salotto in LoDo, for example, you can enjoy a refined drink in an appropriate Halloween atmosphere.
At Double Daughter's, giant golden doors swing open to reveal the unusual decor that owners Kevin Delk and John Skogstad put together to tell the story of Isabella and Delilah Guccio, conjoined twins who had a gig juggling axes in the circus. To that end, the stools and banquettes are upholstered in crimson red vinyl, axes serve as bannister railings, and a bubbling vat of God-knows-what sits above the bar, waiting for some daring patron to take a swig.
It's a cracking back story for a bar, especially if your friends are the type to dress like Jack Skellington and Sally on Halloween. On my visit, the bartenders were stringing up cobwebs and severed limbs -- a bit of an overkill, considering the bar already has the perfect balance between the macabre and the delightful.
Halloween cocktails usually manifest themselves as gag drinks with season-appropriate names: the Black Cat, the Bloody Brain, even the Ghostbuster, for crying out loud. Double Daughter's has its share of outrageously named drinks as well: There's the muscular Fall of Man or the giggle-worthy Gummy Bear Orgy.
On a pre-dusk visit, long before any denizens of the night would dare to appear, I decided to go with something a little more subtle: the Frog Palace cocktail ($10, $5 during happy hour), with rye whiskey, green Chartreuse, and both sweet and dry vermouth, shaken together. Made by French monks from a recipe dating back to 1605, Chartreuse has long been a bartender's friend, mixed with drinks to add instant complexity and mystery to a cocktail.
And with the bite of rye and the interplay between dry and sweet vermouths, the Frog Palace has all the intrigue of a slinky Anne Rice vampire tale -- and for $5 at happy hour, it's a steal.
The fine folks at Double Daughter's Salotto weren't able to scare up a recipe for the Frog Prince by press time, but the cocktail closely resembles another holiday drink: Tipperary, an Irish standard -- just substitute Halloween for St. Patrick's Day. Of for a slightly creepier atmosphere, just adapt the following with Angostura bitters and a dash of smoky burnt orange oil. The Danse Macabre Ingredients:
2 oz. rye whiskey 1 oz. green Chartreuse .5 oz. sweet vermouth .5 oz. dry vermouth 3 dashes Angostura bitters orange peel
In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, combine whiskey, vermouth and Chartreuse, shake well. Strain into martini glass. Add burnt orange by squeezing the peel over a flame into the glass, and garnish with bitters. Serve and brood over the pain of immortality, demonic possession or whatever sexy affliction you're burdened with this week. Happy Halloween!
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With every installment of Coming of Age with 21 Drinks, I'll be featuring a cocktail recipe cooked up by me or the bar itself. Have a suggestion for a place I should visit? Post it below.