Horror movies are best enjoyed at home. Watching a scary flick alone while curled up on your couch delivers an odd sense of comfort that a packed theater cannot. This vibe disarms your senses, which intensifies jump scares, heightens the slow burn of psychological terror, and makes gore more unsettling. It can even make routine occurrences like a knock on the door or acts of random happenstance like a child’s electronic toy suddenly going off in the next room terrifying as hell. If this doesn’t sell you on the argument, perhaps this will: When you’re watching a horror movie at home, you can have a cocktail.

Enjoying a cocktail while watching a horror movie is fun, but it also provides a toe-dip into mildly macabre subversion. After all, there’s a reason why “pick your poison” is part of bar vernacular. The cinematic universe provides plenty of opportunities to engage in this combo, and, luckily, we aren’t limited to hyper-seasonal, Halloween-themed builds. They can be classics ready to be enjoyed any time you please, as the following movie and drink combinations demonstrate.

In the list below, each drink and movie pair through different connections, such as through a title, theme, or memorable scene. Also, you better believe there are spoilers ahead. Proceed with caution.

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The Exorcist (1973): Midori Sour

The Midori Sour and the Exorcist are the perfect scary movie and cocktail pairing.
Movie Poster Credit: IMDb Cocktail Credit: Super Juicy

This classic features one of the horror movie genre’s most infamous gross-outs, when little demon-possessed Regan McNeal projectile-vomits a stream of green onto Father Karras when he asks for the demon’s name. A green cocktail is a clear call here, and it feels right to pick a drink with a somewhat icky reputation. But here’s the twist: It can be quite delicious if prepared properly. Instead of making it the way it was put together in the disco drink era, put the sour mix away — or better yet just throw out the damn bottle — and use fresh citrus juice and club soda instead. The zing of equal parts lime and lemon juice will surprise you.

A Quiet Place (2018): Rusty Nail

The Rusty Nail and A Quiet Place are the perfect scary movie and cocktail pairing.
Movie Poster Credit: IMDb Cocktail Credit: stock.adobe.com

If you’ve seen the movie, you’re probably already wincing at the cocktail’s mention. For the uninitiated who don’t mind having one moment spoiled, we’re talking about the scene in which the film’s heroine, Evelyn Abbott, steps on a nail sticking out of a staircase while she’s barefoot. You know it’s coming — the lingering shot of the exposed nail earlier in the movie is a blatant firing of Chekov’s gun — but the anticipation of the inevitable only makes it worse when it does occur. Fortunately, the Rusty Nail soothes all that squirming. Wildly popular during the Rat Pack era of the 1960s, the two-ingredient, stirred drink consists of Scotch and the honeyed, herbal Scotch liqueur Drambuie. It’s designed to be a spirit-forward drink with pleasant pops of sweetness, but it’s a drink best made to taste: Deviating from the suggested two-to-one ratio and upping the Scotch gives the drink an extra spicy punch.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984): Carajillo

The Carajillo and A Nightmare on Elm Street are the perfect scary movie and cocktail pairing.
Movie Poster Credit: IMDb Cocktail Credit: Gabrielle Johnson

The movie that spawned one of the most enduring horror franchises succeeds on a simple yet surreal premise: The only way for the film’s teenagers to avoid death at the bladed hand of the disfigured, vengeful, and darkly humorous Freddie Kruger is to not fall asleep. The plot obviously lends itself to a coffee-based drink due to the caffeine involved in the beverage, and the Espresso Martini is the easy move. However, a movie this original and intense demands something a little less basic. Enter the Carajillo, a two-ingredient, coffee-based drink with a growing reputation for being better than the Espresso Martini. The drink keeps the espresso component but ditches the vodka and swaps the coffee liqueur with Licor 43. This retooling yields a rich, round beverage accentuated with citrus and vanilla notes. Cold brew coffee will work in a pinch if you don’t have espresso handy, but it won’t be quite as zippy.

The Ring (2002): 7 & 7

The 7&7 and The Ring are the perfect scary movie and cocktail pairing.
Movie Poster Credit: IMDb Cocktail Credit: Super Juicy

The central plot devices of this American remake of the 1998 Japanese horror movie “Ringu” are a cursed videotape and the phrase “seven days.” If you haven’t seen the movie, just know that it’s significantly scarier than it sounds. Also know that this combination of outdated tech and the number 7 is reason enough to pour yourself this legendary highball from the disco drink era. Suggesting a drink traditionally built on one part Seagram’s 7 Crown blended whiskey and two parts 7-Up may strike some as scary in its own right — Seagram’s 7 isn’t exactly beloved by whiskey aficionados. But there’s solace in its simplicity. That comfort blankets us when we’re at a dive bar and want something unfussy. Why wouldn’t we want the same during a movie designed to unnerve us?

An American Werewolf in London (1981): Piña Colada

The Piña Colada and An American Werewolf in London are the perfect scary movie and cocktail pairing.
Movie Poster Credit: IMDb Cocktail Credit: stock.adobe.com

There’s no ambiguity in the title of this criminally underrated horror comedy that’s chock full of scares, laughs, and groundbreaking practical special effects. The London setting may initially have you reaching for a Martini to enjoy the movie’s beastly terrors. But the cool kids and classic rock lovers will use the flick as an opportunity to whip up this rum-based cocktail that’s made appropriate by proxy, courtesy of Warren Zevon’s 1978 hit song “Werewolves of London.” The classic rock radio staple features the lyric, “I saw a werewolf drinking a Piña Colada at Trader Vic’s, and his hair was perfect.” So be like the cool kids, make a Piña Colada, and save the Martini for the next film on this list.

The Shining (1980): Martini

The Martini and The Shining are the perfect scary movie and cocktail pairing.
Movie Poster Credit: IMDb Cocktail Credit: Gabrielle Johnson

There’s a pivotal scene in Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel where Jack Torrance saddles up to an empty bar within the Overlook Hotel and orders a drink. This scene inspires the Martini option, but the reason why requires some explanation. In the movie, Jack orders a bourbon, and astute drinkers will note that bartender Lloyd pours him Jack Daniel’s, which is a Tennessee whiskey and not a bourbon. In King’s book, however, Lloyd serves Jack a Martini, and another Martini, and then another. The bar isn’t empty, either: it’s filled with ghosts from various eras of the hotel’s history that eventually narrow their gaze onto Jack as he continues drinking. As good as the scene in the movie is, the book’s version of the bar scene is much creepier. As such, having a Martini instead of a Tennessee whiskey masquerading as bourbon just feels like the right option.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968): Satan’s Whiskers

Satan's Whiskers and Rosemary's Baby are the perfect scary movie and cocktail pairing.
Movie Poster Credit: IMDb Cocktail Credit: stock.adobe.com

Most of this unsettling flick with occultic undertones takes place at the Bramford, a large, ornate apartment with a sinister past overlooking New York’s Central Park. Eagle-eyed New Yorkers will immediately recognize the building by its real name, the Dakota, the prestigious Upper West Side landmark and one-time residence of celebrities like John Lennon, Judy Garland, and Lauren Bacall. Its cinematic alter ego isn’t quite as glamorous, unless you think a coven of elderly Satanists and a woman giving birth to the antichrist are somehow a picture of glitz. Because the flick manages to link NYC and the Prince of Darkness, this drink, invented in 1930 by pioneering London bartender Harry Craddock, seems more than appropriate to enjoy. It doesn’t quite align perfectly with the setting, as Satan’s Whiskers is a riff on the Bronx and not a Manhattan. Then again, the Bramford is a riff on the Dakota, so the drink being off by a borough probably makes it an even better fit.

A Whole Bunch of Zombie Movies: A Whole Bunch of Corpse Revivers

Zombie Movies and the Corpse Reviver No. 1 and No. 2 are the perfect scary movie and cocktail pairing.
Photo Credit: Kirsty Pargeter – stock.adobe.com Cocktail Credit: Gabrielle Johnson

There’s an absurd glut of zombie movies out there, making it impossible to narrow this selection down to one film or drink. Fortunately, we didn’t really need to thanks to the myriad interpretations of the Corpse Reviver, an alleged hangover-nursing “pick me up” cocktail, that date back to the mid-to-late 19th century. The variance existing within the Corpse Reviver subcategory provides the unique opportunity to dip into the zombie and cocktail subgenres and do some mixing and matching. In the mood for a classic coupling? Pair the most legendary zombie film, “Night of the Living Dead,” with the most famous variation, the Corpse Reviver No. 2. Want to dig into an underrated zombie like “Train to Busan” or “Pontypool”? Make a Corpse Reviver No. 1. Want something a little silly and scary, like “Shaun of the Dead” or “Re-Animator”? Pour yourself a Corpse Reviver No. Blue — essentially a Corpse Reviver No. 2 with blue curacao. There are other drinks in the category to be had, so have fun discovering. And you should have fun. All scares aside, isn’t that what Halloween and horror movies are all about?