Adesso’s Heart of Darkness Beckons for Halloween

Adesso’s Heart of Darkness Beckons for Halloween


Adesso’s Heart of Darkness, just in time for Halloween.

Rye and brandy form the basis of Adesso bartender Andrew Adams’ cocktail of the month.

Where would the Crypt Keeper go for his late-night drink? With the evenings theoretically getting colder and the skies turning darker, he might choose to imbibe close to home. That means you will probably find him just a block from Mountain View Cemetery, at an Oakland bar that serves a variety of spirits. The modern-yet-industrial Adesso builds its cocktail menu off the season. And for October, with Halloween lurking around the corner, lead bartender Andrew Adams has the perfect blend of flavors to reflect both the brisk temperature and macabre nature of the month.

“It’s called Heart of Darkness,” he said. “It’s made with rye and brandy, so those are very warming. If there’s a chill in the air, they’ll warm you up. The air changes in October. It’s more dank and earthy and musty. Something about the cocktail mirrors that.” But not only does the scarlet-tinted drink please patrons with its satisfying heat, it also surprises the palate with a silky finish that is so balanced and smooth … it’s almost creepy. No ingredient outweighs another. The subtle essence of the orange peel garnish mixes with the rye profile seamlessly. If you ask Adams what sets the Heart of Darkness apart, he’ll credit the Torres 10 Brandy, which he noted is “paramount to the drink.” He said, “There’s something about Spanish brandy, especially this one. The sweetest they get is that the sugar is sort of caramelized, bordering on burnt sugar. And it gives a real depth.”

Adams’ creation presents an excellent alternative to consider if you won’t be visiting haunted mansions or dressing up in costume over the next few weeks. Instead you can celebrate the supernatural by raising a glass to the wizardry of the Heart of Darkness. You can also order house-made charcuterie or play foosball while you’re there. To be sure, there’s no Joseph Conrad included in the beverage. This one is all about what happens when a frightfully clever bartender invents a concoction with all the right potions, er, portions.

Heart of Darkness

1 ounce Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey

1 ounce Torres 10 Brandy

0.5 ounce Cocchi di Torino Sweet Vermouth

0.5 ounce Averna Amaro

0.5 ounce Amaro Sibilla


Add all ingredients to a mixing glass, fill with ice, and stir until well chilled. Single-strain into a chilled coupe. Express the oil from an orange peel over the drink by twisting or flexing it a few times, and add to coupe as garnish.