CLAWSON, Mich. – Don’t let the wrought iron doors and 12-foot skeletons scare you away this fall: The only spooky thing about Downtown Clawson’s Weiss Distilling Co. is how good they are at mixing themed cocktails.
Halloween has arrived a bit early this year at the relatively new speakeasy that continues to hitch its wagon to its ability to transform into something fun and unexpected each season. With the arrival of fall comes the bar’s second-annual Halloween-inspired theme, dubbed Halloweiss II, that’s reflected outside, inside, and in your drink.
Through the bar’s unique elevator door entrance, you’ll find the familiar bright orange liquor wall and moody, vintage aesthetic enhanced by playfully creepy decor. Animal skeletons illuminate the walls, glowing crystal balls illuminate the bar, and faux storm clouds illuminate the ceiling -- a fun leftover decoration from their previous rainforest theme, Weiss in the Wild.
For each new theme, the creative staff at Weiss work together and experiment with their own recipes to create a unique and distinct cocktail menu. The names of the drinks are often silly, but their contents are complex, thoughtful, and seriously tasty -- all three of which are true of the Halloweiss II menu.
Weiss first launched its revolving door of seasonal themes with Halloweiss in 2022 after being open for less than a year. As the team returns to the theme one year later, they’re definitely showing off their mastery.
I was able to taste test their latest offerings just before the new themed launched last week -- here are some new cocktails you’ll find on the menu:
- Marshmallow Mathers: Campfire vibes here. It drinks like a thick, syrupy cocktail, but is vodka-based and lighter than you might expect. It’s sweet, creamy, and topped with tiny, perfectly-burned marshmallows. A real adult treat.
- Scream Queen: A deliciously fruity gin cocktail that’s juicy, slightly sour, and easy to drink. The vanilla oak bitters round out the flavor. Feels like a fall twist on a summery drink -- and it’s served in a fun Ghostface glass.
- Bad Witches Only: It’s sweet like an apple brandy drink ought to be, but it’s also bright, sour and a little spicy. It’s crisp like fall and even served with an apple slice. Perfect for the season.
- What Are You Doing In Mah Swamp: An extremely unexpected rum cocktail that’s well-spiced and fruity with a bitter finish. This drink hits every tastebud. It’s very earthy and aptly named -- my sister called it “bougie Shrek,” and she’s absolutely right. Not a light drink, but nice to sip and quite different.
- Ghost With The Most: Halloween takes a tropical vacation here. You get a gentle black licorice taste from the absinthe, but this drink is also brimming with other flavors. It’s lightly spiced and boldly juicy with pineapple and coconut perfectly paired with taro. Their absinthe-based cocktails always end up being my favorite drinks on their menu, and this one is no different.
- Fungus Amongus: The most unique drink on their new menu, so I had to try it for the sake of the article. It’s a moonshine cocktail that’s got mushroom broth, ginger, and a “garlic-sesame tincture,” so it’s certainly savory. The drink is salty, potent and boozy with a warm mouthfeel. I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone, but if you like a drink that’s savory, unique and strong, maybe give this one a try. It was very well made, but as someone who prefers brighter and lighter drinks, this wasn’t for me.
In comparison to their last menu, the new fall menu has been pared down quite a bit -- but I found that leaves customers with the best-of-the-best to choose from, and there are still plenty of options. Weiss is also known for making and using its own spirits, which really sets their menus apart and makes tasting the drinks more interesting.
While sitting on the velvety seats at the bar and watching the staff craft their magic, my attention was constantly stolen by the scents circulating in the room. Their fresh popcorn is always a welcome smell, but they were also frequently burning palo santo and gently charring marshmallows for the drinks -- two perfect fall scents that helped center me right in their vampy autumn setting.
I always recommend sitting at the bar and chatting with those running the show, since they’re so friendly and knowledgeable. But, the small, intimate speakeasy also has some comfy lounge tables that work great for small groups (and the good smells should reach you over there, too).
As a big Weiss fan, if you couldn’t tell, I never walk into their business expecting to be anything but pleased -- but somehow, the bar always one-ups itself with each mutation it takes on, leaving me excited and eager to share my experience. If you’re looking for a fun fall-night-out, Weiss would be a great place to stop in.
You can make a reservation and check out their menu on their website here. I’d recommend making a reservation, especially on weekends.
If you’ve been keeping up with my Weiss coverage, you know I visit there quite a bit. Have you tried any of their menus? Which has been your favorite so far? Let me know in the comments!