This Midnight-Black Margarita Is a Halloween Party Hero

The secret is a simple syrup featuring a unique ingredient

October 27, 2023 7:33 am
A black-colored Margarita, the perfect cocktail for a Halloween party
Let's make the Muerte Negra Margarita.
Moxy Miami South Beach

In crafting a midnight-black play on the classic Margarita, Bryan Bolanos, head bartender at Moxy Miami South Beach took his inspiration from a cinematic classic: Hocus Pocus.

“Watching the witches craft their spooky, eerie potions on screen sparked the idea of concocting a drinkable rendition of a witch’s brew,” he tells InsideHook.

And brew it must. Unlike a classic Margarita, which sees bright citrus shaken with tequila and triple sec, this version — called the Muerte Negra Margarita — relies on a black-as-night syrup that must bubble away on the stovetop before being shaken into the drink crafted with a once-omnipresent ingredient touted for its purported superfood creds: activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal gained a cult following back in 2016, popping up in concoctions ranging from ice cream to croissants. But the ship has largely sailed on its dubious-at-best health claims, and according to nutritionist Lisa Richards of the Candida Diet, that’s no surprise.

“The claims about its alkaline powers were largely exaggerated and not supported by scientific evidence,” she says. “The human body has its own sophisticated systems for regulating pH levels, primarily involving the kidneys and lungs.”

“As with anything,” adds naturopathic doctor Serena Goldstein, “some people it can really benefit, some it may irritate, and others it may not make a difference.”

Some bartenders eschew the use of activated charcoal in cocktails entirely, citing potential interference with certain medications, and recommend food colorings instead. But Bolanos makes neither health nor flavor promises with his addition.

“The activated charcoal has a very neutral flavor and is used mainly to create the black color of the cocktail,” he says.

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That said, the deep black syrup he crafted was the most difficult part of the cocktail to get just right. He attempted a few different methods, finally settling on heating the ingredients together before storing them in the fridge overnight to ensure the charcoal was fully suspended in the syrup for the ideal viscosity.

“The charcoal being a solid interferes with the process minimally,” he says, “but we are very careful to ensure that the consistency is achieved.”

The final syrup is made with a combo of equal parts water and agave syrup, with one teaspoon of the activated charcoal for every two cups of liquid. Any leftover syrup will keep for about a week in the fridge, ready to tint any other ghoulish creations. (At your own risk, of course!)

Muerte Negra Margarita

Servings: 1 cocktail

  • 1.5 oz. Herradura Tequila
  • 1 oz. charcoal agave syrup (recipe below)
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • Tajin seasoning
  • Dehydrated lime wheel
    1. Combine the tequila, charcoal agave syrup and lime juice in a shaker tin. Add ice and shake until chilled.

    2. Apply a Tajin rim to a rocks glass, then strain the drink into the glass with fresh cubed ice, and garnish with a dehydrated lime wheel.

Charcoal Agave Syrup

Servings: 2 cups

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup agave syrup
  • 1 tsp. organic activated charcoal powder
    1. Combine the ingredients in a saucepan. Heat the mixture on medium and stir it until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is combined.

    2. Allow it to cool, then cover and chill. For the best viscosity, chill in the refrigerator overnight.


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