If you’re 21 and up, your trick-or-treating days are long behind you. But who says you can’t raid your kids’ candy stash (call it quality control) or dip it into that variety bag of fun-sized candy bars as you’re waiting for the doorbell to ring and enjoy a Halloween tipple and treat for yourself?
We posed the following question to some of Colorado’s favorite brewers and distillers, as well as an urban winemaker and canned cocktail purveyor: “What Halloween candy would you pair with your alcoholic beverages?” Here, the treats that they suggest syncing up with their boos … er, booze.
Law Whiskey House’s Four Grain Straight Bourbon and Almond Joys
The chocolate, candied coconut and almond in an Almond Joy mingles perfectly with Four Grain Bourbon, which has notes of honey and a creamy vanilla custard flavor, said Al Laws, the founder of Laws Whiskey House, a Denver distiller.
“The milk chocolate combined with the candied coconut creates delicious thin layers in your mouth that a sip of bourbon rinses off, creating a nice cocktail effect,” Laws said. “The almond on top acts as marzipan within the mix. I dig through my kids’ candy bags and confiscate the Almond Joys right away, and will do the same this Halloween with a glass of bourbon in my hand.”
The Infinite Monkey Theorem’s Cabernet Franc and Kit Kats
Snack-size Kit Kats don’t have a ton of sugar, so the alcohol and sweet stuff don’t compete with one another. The spicy notes of The Infinite Monkey Theorem’s Cab Franc complements the sweetness of the milk chocolate in Kit Kats, said Jocelen Smith, the chief operating officer at IMT.
“I think it would work even better with dark chocolate Kit Kats, if you can find them,” she said.
The Infinite Monkey Theorem’s Riesling and Caramel Apple Pops
You probably haven’t had one of these sticky caramel-coated green apple suckers since you got your braces off. But they’re worth revisiting and pairing with wine. The dryness of IMT’s Riesling really compliments the sweetness of the Caramel Apple pops, Smith said.
“The riesling has floral, peach and citrus notes, so the sweetness of the apple balances the acidity of the wine,” she said.
Deviation Distilling Barista Spirits Whiskey and Coffee and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
If you’re a chocolate and peanut butter lover, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are the true treasures of any candy stash. To take this candy to the next level, pair one of the peanut butter cups with Deviation Distilling’s coffeehouse-inspired whiskey, which is the result of a local collaboration between the distillery, a coffee roaster and chocolate company.
“There is no better treat in our mind than pairing a sweet peanut butter cup that has a touch of salt with our rich, dark chocolate Barista Mocha Whiskey,” said Deviation Distilling’s co-owner Cindi Wiley said. “It’s hauntingly good!”
Seedstock Brewery’s Düsseldorf Alt and Hershey’s Candy Bars
Coloradans are chocolate lovers, at least according to CandyStore.com, which mined sales data to find out the favorite Halloween candy in every state. Hershey Kisses, Twix and Milky Ways are the most popular Halloween candies here. Lean into the Centennial State’s collective chocolate craving and pair a classic Hershey Chocolate part with Seedstock Brewery’s award-winning Düsseldorf Alt.
“The balanced maltiness and semi-dry finish of the Düsseldorf Alt marries well with the sweet creaminess of the Hershey Milk Chocolate,” said Adam McIlvenna, co-owner of the brewery, which focuses on old-world family recipes from the Czech Republic and Germany.
Stem Ciders Lava Flow and Pop Rocks
Pop Rocks are a trick and a treat. They also make for a fun and unexpected garnish on the rim of a glass for a cider cocktail, said Courtney O’Rourke, vice president of marketing for Denver-based Stem Ciders.
“Lava Flow, our new Hawaiian cocktail-inspired strawberry pineapple cider, is an absolute explosion of tropical flavors,” she said. “We found it only fitting to pair Lava Flow with Pop Rocks to enhance that explosive burst of flavors.”
Mythology’s Foragers Botanical Gin and Dark Chocolate
Mythology’s Foragers Botanical Gin is a special one: It was produced with botanicals harvested from Denver Botanic Gardens. You’ll get a lovely slate of tasting notes from this dry gin, including fresh pine, pink peppercorn spice and lemon rind on the palate. So what candy should you conjure up with this spirit? Go for a good dark chocolate.
“The citrus of the lemon verbena and sweet Italian juniper in the Foragers gin provides a great balance with dark chocolate,” said Scott Yeates, founder and president of Mythology Distillery.
To take it up a notch, he suggests making a gin martini to enjoy alongside your favorite dark chocolate.
Epic Brewing Company’s It’s Got Citra and Sour Patch Kids
This IPA from Epic Brewing was almost exclusively hopped with Citra hops, which has a fruity aroma-producing compound called Geraniol, said brewer Wes Bowen.
“The bitterness of the hops balances the sweetness of the Sour Patch Kids when consumed together,” Bowen said.
Cocktail Squad’s Whiskey Ginger and Candy Corn
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more controversial Halloween candy than candy corn. But these chewy and sugary tri-colored treats have quite the devout fan following. This candy-and-cocktail pairing is for the unwavering supporters of candy corn, but it’s well-balanced and diplomatic, enough that it just may sway the dissenters, too.
The warm honey and vanilla notes of the candy complement the spice of the ginger and whiskey, making for a decadent yet easy Halloween pairing, said Lauren Maggio, co-founder of Boulder-based Cocktail Squad.
For a twist, melt down some candy corn with a touch of maple syrup and water to make a Halloween-inspired simple syrup and then rim a glass with the mixture, dip in sugar and crack open a chilled Cocktail Squad cocktail. Pour and indulge.
Doña Loca’s Mezcal Espadín and Skittles
Tart candies like Skittles are a match made in agave heaven. Try the bite-sized, rainbow-colored candies with Doña Loca Espadín, a mezcal from Denver chef Dana Rodriguez’s small-batch spirits line.
“The mezcal is a little spicy, so the sour and citrus flavors provide a perfect flavor balance,” said Rodriguez, a James Beard-nominated chef and entrepreneur. If you’re short on Skittles, Starbursts would make for a good pairing substitute, she said.
Locke + Co’s Aspen Aged Rye Whiskey and York Peppermint Patties
Locke + Co Aspen Aged Rye Whiskey and York Peppermint Patties? They’re mint to be together.
“The rich and complex pepper notes of the rye whiskey balance out with the refreshing and cool peppermint,” said Owen Locke, co-founder at Locke + Co Distilling, which is aged, bottled and blended by sixth-generation Coloradans.
Plus, the peppermint brings out some great cinnamon notes from Locke + Co unique aspen wood aging process, Locke said.
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