Like a kid scoping out the best trick-or-treating, we've gathered Denver's best treats, potions and boozy drinks to make your Halloween party a night to remember. Steer clear of being a basic witch with a bag of candy, and treat the ghosts and goblins to these favorites on Halloween. Psssst: There are even some gluten-free and vegan options for your ghoulish guests.
1. Colorado Fall Beers
Bottle Shop 33
1080 South Gaylord Street
Bring the beer! Keep it local with these favorites: Denver Beer Co. Hey! Pumpkin, Tommyknocker Small Patch Pumpkin Harvest Ale, or Renegade Pancakes Maple Porter.
Stroll over to Bottle Shop 33, where the spiritual advisers specialize in helping customers find the right craft beer or boutique wine.
"Our goal is to demystify the process of making great cocktails and the right selection of beer or wine," says general manager Christina Mau. "We focus on the host and the home bartender, giving them everything they need to make and serve the same great cocktails at home that they get at their favorite bars and restaurants."
2. Ghosts and Bats Crispy Potato Snacks
661 Logan Street
For an easy party treat, we had to include a few cult-status TJ's items on our list. To wow your crowd: Dunk the Ghosts and Bats chips in Caramelized Onion Dip, put out a platter of Mac & Cheese Bites or toast some Mini-Pumpkin Pies.
3. Halloween Cookies and Cakes
82 Inverness Drive East
Sherry and Brad Isroff started Cakeheads eight years ago, and now this Englewood bakery has achieved national success. Pick up their hand-decorated butter cookies, shaped like skeletons, pumpkins and ghosts, at King Soopers.
"Most bakeries have someone who bakes and decorates," explains owner Brad Isroff. "We have two teams that are either bakers or decorators. It's two sides of the brain."
Cakeheads decorators are specifically trained, starting with dots and lines and moving to more intricate designs. That's how the cakes can not only look good, but taste good, too. Check out the photo gallery for their custom-order cake masterpieces like the Haunted House, Halloween Brains and Frankenstein.
And don't forget the werewolf in your life: The Isroff's other company, Pawsitively Gourmet, sells homemade dog treats at local pet stores and Petcos nationwide.
4. Halloween Cupcakes
Yours Truly Cupcake
3047 Larimer Street
Celebrate your spooktacular Halloween with boozy mini-cupcakes from Yours Truly. With flavors like Vampire Red Velvet, Chocolate with Candy Corn, Pumpkin, Ghoulish Vanilla and Champagne Pomegranate, the Halloween Treat Box doesn't trick around.
Walk up to the shop's window on Larimer Street or place a custom order for delivery Tuesday through Saturday. Yours Truly will be open for Halloween on Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
5. Hocus Pocus, Witchcraft and Halloween Mix Popcorn
1561 Champa Street
Get your party popping! City Pop makes fresh, specialty popcorn with proprietary candy-coating recipes to turn the popcorn all shades of Halloween.
For the traditionalist, try Halloween Mix featuring orange- and blackberry-flavored corn. Get your sorcery on with Hocus Pocus, a potion of Dr. Pepper corn and blackberry vanilla, or Witchcraft, a mix of cheesecake, green apple and blackberry. And if you aren't tired of pumpkin spice this season, the caramel corn sweetened with nutmeg and cinnamon is like eating pumpkin pie.
6. Orange and Black Halloween Nachos and Snacks
Make it yourself!
On Halloween, my family ate orange and black food as our pre-trick-or-treating ritual. A festive spread before the sugar high.
Carry the black-and-orange theme throughout your Halloween party with these colorful combos. It's easy: sweet-potato tortilla chips and black-bean dip, carrots and black olives with buffalo ranch, dark chocolate and dried apricots, grilled cheese on dark rye — you get the idea.
Keep reading for more Halloween party treats...
7. Organic Colorado Apples and Cider
Ela Family Farms
30753 L Road, Hotchkiss
Get your organic Colorado apples and cider at the Farmers' Markets in Cherry Creek, City Park and Pearl Street this Halloween weekend. Steve Ela is a fourth-generation Colorado fruit grower whose family has been farming since 1907. The family's apples are also sold at Marczyk Fine Foods and featured on menus at Potager, The Kitchen, Tables, Acorn and the Plimoth.
Ela Family Farms has been participating in Front Range farmers' markets since 2000 to help make growing apples in Colorado more economically feasible. "It's our Front Range customers who keep us growing apples, literally," says Jeni Nagle. "Our farmers'-market tasting table is where you can make side-by-side apple comparisons and revel in farmers'-market charm."
At the farmer's market, try the heirloom apple of the week, the historic Esopus Spitzenburg apple that Thomas Jefferson grew at Monticello. "Tart, spicy and full of complexity — this would make an impressive gourmet caramel apple," recommends Nagle.
8. Pumpkin Bread - Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free (And Delicious!)
1820 Industrial Circle
Longmont, CO 80501
Praise the Halloween ghouls! Outrageous Baking's super-moist pumpkin bread is "outrageously good" and gluten and dairy-free. Celebrating ten years of baking outrageously, Outrageous Baking sells its sweet breads at Whole Foods and other locations.
Owner Pamela Fletcher started experimenting with gluten and dairy-free baking ten years ago when she wanted to make treats for her daughter Grace. It was a hit, and her business has since expanded to include chocolate zucchini bread, pumpkin bread with chocolate chips, lemon poppyseed bread, coffee cake, cranberry-orange bread and all-purpose baking flour. Sure to be a crowd-pleaser for everyone, freeze them by the loaf all year 'round.
9. Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Donuts
2120 South Broadway
Every year, Lamar's sells more than 200,000 glazed and cream-cheese Pumpkin Spice Donuts. Headquartered in Denver since 2002, Lamar's makes all of its doughnuts from scratch, by hand and with fresh ingredients. The bakers start around 10 p.m. each night so patrons can wake up with fresh gourmet doughnuts in the morning.
"To us, many doughnut makers dishonor one of the finest culinary delights by cutting corners," says Paul Kellogg. "We don’t believe in freezing product just so it can be shipped cross-country for mass consumption. We don’t understand why doughnuts would come from a warehouse. And we definitely don’t think that throwing a bunch of ingredients into a food processor and watching them spew onto a conveyor belt stays true to the spirit and integrity of what a doughnut should be."
Cut up this seasonal favorite for your party or tie on a string for the time-honored doughnut-eating contest. Perfect morning-after food, too!
10. Shine Potions
Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place
2027 13th Street
Boulder, CO 80302
Embrace your inner sorceress with Shine Potions. Made with organic juices and intentional herbs, the three potions (Fairy Bubbles, Owl Eyes and Three Laughing Monks) nourish the heart and have anti-inflammatory natural immunity and energy-boosting benefits, according to Shine. Brew a fun, mindful mixed drink for guests like Three Laughing Monks with bourbon garnished with a slice of ginger, Fairy Bubbles with vodka, or Owl Eyes with tequila garnished with a slice of lemon.
Shine Potions were created by the Blissful Sisters — triplets Jennifer, Jill and Jessica Emich, who are the co-owners of Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place in Boulder, a paleo-friendly, gluten-free eatery. They are available at health-food retailers and select liquor stores, and by the bottle or keg at Shine.
“Part of our holistic approach to living and wellness is addressing not only the body, but also the mind and the heart. We knew we wanted to create a product that embodied this belief, and after many months of brainstorming and collaboration, the Shine potions were born,” says Jill Emich.
Handcrafted and truly unique, the Potions contain vibrational essences, water that has been imprinted with an energetic “signature” from a particular place or thing such as flowers, gemstones, environments and even stories to help coax out a different state of being.
A favorite is Fairy Bubbles, a mix of pomegranate juice, lemon juice, honey and hibiscus, brewed to the sound of baby laughter and wind in the trees, with rose quartz essence and calla lily. Hocus Pocus aside, this potion "brings out joy, mirth and fanciful states of being," say the Blissful Sisters.
“Shine Potions address the idea that eating and drinking things that are full of life and vibrancy will translate to a strong, healthy body and mind,” says co-owner and executive chef Jessica Emich.
“The potions are enchanted beverages to remind you of the magic within. Through a harmony of supportive herbs, vibrational essences, sound frequencies and more, we tune each potion to a specific intention, one that is ultimately fulfilled by our most important ingredient: You. It’s a reflection of the power that you already contain. In other words: The Magic’s In You.”
11. Spooky Sangria
Bottle Shop 33
1080 South Gaylord Street
Need a festive drink? Brew some Spooky Halloween Sangria in your cauldron with dry ice. The sangria can be made ahead of time and brought to the host in a Mason jar.
1 box Monastrell or other dry red wine (3 L)
2 cups Don Q Añejo Rum
1 cup Cointreau
2 cups sparkling apple cider
1 cup pomegranate juice
Mix together liquids and slice fruit and put in a container overnight in the fridge to meld the flavors. To serve, pour into a cauldron (or a big punch bowl) with a small chunk of dry ice.
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12. Trick or Treat Ice Cream and Vegan Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream
Sweet Action Ice Cream
Stop into Sweet Action Ice Cream for a $6 pint to bring to the party. With more than thirty flavors that rotate daily, including fall flavors like Caramel Apple, Sweet Action is known for fresh ice cream hand-made with natural Colorado dairy.
Skip the candy bag: Trick or Treat ice cream is packed with M&Ms, Butterfinger, peanut-butter cups, Kit Kat, Snickers, Twix, Milky Way and Almond Joy.
Other seasonal favorites include Vegan Pumpkin Pie, a coconut and soy base with organic pumpkin; Red Rum, a Red Hots cinnamon candy and rum-spiced ice cream; and Candy Corn, a sweet-cream base with candy corn mixed in. Get them now, before these flavors are gone! Ship them to your friends: Sweet Action just launched a test of shipping ice cream nationwide.
For more photos of Halloween food and booze ideas, see our complete slideshow of spooky Halloween treats for kids and adults.