Drink to the Dead on DIA DE LOS MUERTOS

In remembrance of loved ones, dive into these devilish drinks at Los Angeles’ top bars on Dia de los Muertos, and keep their spirits alive.

Altar on Gracias Madre's back patio. Credit: Liz Laing.

Altar on Gracias Madre’s back patio. Credit: Liz Laing.

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday honoring ancestors and celebrating loved ones who have passed on. Festivities traditionally include food, drink and dancing, playful images of skeletons, decorated sugar skulls and, even partying in the cemetery (we’ll get to that later).

Meet up with your ghoulfriends the night of the 31st when Firefly turns into an eerie haven for Halloween revelers. Try one of their bloodcurdling cocktails: the Sangre De Los Ladrones (The Blood of Thieves), a chilling blend of larceny bourbon antica, orange bitters and red lillet; or the La Calabaza California (The California Pumpkin), with spiced rum, pumpkin pie spice syrup and orange juice. Marvel at the amuse-ing Liquid Eyeball Ravioli (gelled watermelon mojito) and a dessert to die for, the Listen to Me mousse, unnervingly presented as a disembodied ear, dripping with raspberry/currant “blood”.

La California Calabaza and Sangre de los Ladrones at Firefly.

La California Calabaza and Sangre de los Ladrones at Firefly.

Tortilla Republic is all decked out in spirited décor with a specialty drink to celebrate Dia de Los Muertos this weekend: the Halloweño, a scary concoction of Tapatio tequila with strawberry purée, muddled jalapeno and orange juice. Another fine and fiery drink is the Spicy Pomegranate Margarita, but lovers may go for something more passionate, like the Smokey Passion Fruit with tequila, mezcal, triple sec, fresh agave lime sweet, pineapple juice and passion fruit purée. Hungry? The nachos made with crispy flour tortilla chips are extremely satisfying and will keep your stomach growling to a minimum, as well as the savory Huarache de Hongos, a crispy corn flatbread with oyster mushrooms, roasted shallots, cheeses, arugula and white truffle oil.

Halloweno cocktail at Tortilla Republic. Creidt: Liz Laing

Halloweno cocktail at Tortilla Republic. Creidt: Liz Laing

The cutest and most creative cocktail accoutrement comes from Gracias Madre’s Beverage Director Jason Eisner, who makes tiny skull-shaped vegan “jello” shots (from housemade almond milk horchata, mezcal and smoked vanilla cinnamon syrup) and serves them with a draft beer back; hence, A Shot and a Beer. More fun comes in the form of alcoholic slurpees and snowcones, such as the aptly named All Hallows Eve, with housemade apple cider shaved ice, Tapatio Reposado, aromatic bitters and canela. When you’re ready to work on your cackling, try a bubbling glass of the high potency Witches Brew, that’s finished off with a trailing smoke bomb. Then find your way to Gracias Madre’s traditional ofrenda, or altar, on the patio and pay tribute to your lost loved ones.

Smokin' Witches Brew cocktail at Gracias Madre. Credit: Liz Laing

Smokin’ Witches Brew and skull “jello” shot at Gracias Madre. Credit: Liz Laing

Feeling more tranquil than terrified? Enjoy an early aperitif and catch the sunset in the open and airy back room at the Eveleigh, but be warned: once the sun goes down that mellow backyard vibe might turn a little dark. Be daring and try head barman Dave Kupchinsky’s bewitching brew of mezcal, ancho chile liqueur, coffee-infused Campari, P.X. sherry and snake oil—you could end up “Running with the Devil.” Need a caffeine buzz with a kick? Try his Mexican Iced Coffee with reposado tequila, Licor 43, Amaro, Cio Ciaro, cayenne, cinnamon, orange, Angostura cream and house made cold brew coffee. Dave’s talent in making house-made syrups and infusions set him apart in the spirit world.

Running with the Devil drink at the Eveleigh.

Running with the Devil drink at the Eveleigh.

On Halloween night, the Wellesbourne will be transformed into a haunted mansion to host their All Hallows Eve celebration, “Jeepers Creepers 2014,” featuring complimentary tastings of Selvarey’s White and Cacao sipping rums (from 6-9:00pm) and the house Jeepers Creepers punch. A DJ will be spinning monster mash-worthy tunes and guests can enter a costume contest (with prizes) or pose with friends at the Halloween themed photo booth for fun. A cover of $10 will be charged after 9:00pm, but party-goers will receive a complimentary glass of Selvarey Rum’s specialty punch and can party through the night until 2:00am!

Jeepers Creepers Punch with Selvarey Rum at The Wellesbourne.

Jeepers Creepers Punch with Selvarey Rum at The Wellesbourne.

Most of these cocktail specials will run through the weekend, perfect for summoning all that liquid courage for Saturday night (Nov. 1) and a visit to the 15th annual Dia de los Muertos festival at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Traditional processions with Aztec blessings, performances by Grammy-award winning recording artists, hundreds of Aztec ritual dancers and exquisite personal and family altars throughout will have you partying with the living (and the dead) in this eerie and thrilling graveyard scene. Food vendors from all over the city will be serving traditional (and not-so-traditional) cuisine; go hungry and enjoy the revelry at L.A.’s biggest Dia de los Muertos celebration. We’ll drink to that!

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