Day of the Dead Cocktail: Sub Rosa

photo by Neal Bayless
photo by Neal Bayless

The popular perception of ghosts is that they appear to taunt, tease and menace the living. But in some cultures, they understand sometimes ghosts just want to party.

In Mexico, Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, is a sacred holiday celebrated each year on November 1st and 2nd in which altars are built for ancestors and loved ones who have passed. Objects representing their favorite things in the living world are placed on them, along with ornately decorated skeletal figures dressed up in their finest party costumes. This is not a day of sadness, but rather one of celebrating the best memories in life of the dearly departed.

Spirits made from agave, such as tequila, mezcal, sotol and raicilla, are an important part of Día de los Muertos parties. Mayahuel is the sacred goddess protecting agave plants and the soil they grow in, and it's also common practice to pour out a couple of drops on the ground as an offering to her.

I love the taste of fermented agave in all its forms, and usually prefer to sip them neat. However, a proper celebration calls for a cocktail, and it has become a tradition at Alcohol Professor to create a cocktail specifically for Day of the Dead. This has been a year of tremendous loss for many, and I wanted to be sure this cocktail was up to snuff, which is why I turned to my dear friend Bryan Teoh, head bartender at the JakeWalk, to come up with something that honors them properly. He’s good like that.

The Sub Rosa satisfies all the elements of a great Día de Muertos cocktail - elegant, delicious, juicy, refreshing, bittersweet and a gorgeous orange/red color reminiscent of a harvest moon. He’s been generous enough to share the recipe with everyone, but you will also find it on the upcoming fall menu at the bar.

Sub Rosa

Shake all ingredients well with ice. Strain into chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the twist.


For Keith and Bruce.