Halloween Cocktail Recipe: The Bloody Manhattan

updated May 2, 2019
Manhattan Makeover for Halloween
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(Image credit: Maureen Petrosky)

Don’t feel like drinking your candy corns or sipping on a snickers bar? Me either, so this Halloween, I gave one of my favorite cocktails a holiday makeover that makes drinking something spooky a little easier to swallow. If you still have a Halloween party or two in your weekend plans, make sure this cocktail is on the menu.

(Image credit: Maureen Petrosky)

I’m a sucker for picture perfect drinks that capture the spirit of Halloween, but I find looking at them much more fun than actually drinking them. I set out to swap the sugar laden sips for something a bit more my style and found that there are lots of ways to make your classic cocktails into drinks suitable for this spooky occasion.

Martinis can easily be made spooky by adding a bloody eyeball garnish (a hallowed out radish with a pimento stuffed olive put inside), or a using blood orange vodka. Stir your standard Gin and Tonic with a glow stick or use some stringy black licorice to garnish your shot of Fernet Branca.

(Image credit: Maureen Petrosky)

Drinking in the spirit of Halloween doesn’t have to be so literal. This is one cocktail case that calls for editing. So I chose to give my Manhattan a simple style makeover with a bloody rim perfect for the occasion.

Those bloody red rims add a touch of sweetness, but they are smoother and more gentle on the lips than a sugar rim. In this drink you can barely even taste the candy-coated rim — just your perfectly chilled Manhattan. It’s simple to make the blood by reducing the liquid from maraschino cherries or making a mixture of Karo syrup and red food coloring. This quick and easy tip makes this week’s happy hour perfect for Halloween in no time.

(Image credit: Maureen Petrosky)

Manhattan Makeover for Halloween

Serves 1

Nutritional Info


For the blood rim:

  • 1/4 cup

    of Karo

  • 2 teaspoons

    red food coloring

For the Manhattan:

  • 2 ounces


  • 2 ounces

    sweet vermouth

  • Couple of dashes of bitters

  • Maraschino cherry, for garnish (the ones with the stems look nicer and are easier to enjoy)


  1. Place the Karo and food coloring into a microwave-safe glass bowl that is wide enough to fit your cocktail glass and stir to evenly combine. Place the bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until the mixture just starts to bubble up.

  2. Cool the syrup to room temperature, then dip your glass in just to lightly rim the glass.

  3. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice add whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters. Stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled blood-rimmed glass, and garnish with one maraschino cherry.

Recipe Notes

Be sure not to overheat your Karo syrup and food coloring mixture or your syrup will harden to much to dip.