Sloshed: Nine Halloween Costume Ideas That Are Really Just Excuses to Drink More

There are better ways to do this.
There are better ways to do this. Photo: Konstantin Sergeyev

I’ve never understood why adults trick themselves into thinking Halloween is a candy holiday. For the grown and kid-free among us, it is increasingly acceptable to turn the night into a bad-behavior free-for-all, full of sexy whatevers and sloppy lewdness. But unlike our official drinking holidays — St. Patrick’s Day, the Fourth of July — there are no predefined rules or recipes for Halloween drinking (unless you count some horrifying bubbling, steaming concoction of vodka, fruit juice, and peeled grapes, which it should be clear: I do not condone). So if you are planning to get loose this Hallow-season, Sloshed suggests you match your costume to your intoxication. This is one evening when your outfit can, if not entirely excuse, at least help explain away your level of drunkenness.

First, let’s get this out of the way: No Don Drapers. If you want to put a little pomade in your hair and drink Canadian Club all day, nothing is stopping you from doing that tomorrow. Besides, the only appropriate Mad Men costume this year is Dead Lane Pryce.

Now, when deciding which drink-appropriate Halloween costume you’ll wear, you’ll want something that falls into one of three categories:

1. Costumes that look good with a drink.
2. Costumes that are about drinking in some way.
3. Costumes that are actually enhanced by your own slurry, stumbly drunkenness. (Be warned: This is a varsity move.)

Within these three categories, there’s a whole world of possibilities, but here at Sloshed HQ we’ve also had a few thoughts about what ideas might work best.

Costumes That Look Good With a Drink

Famous drunks: This is probably the most obvious route, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad one. If you can pull off a Dorothy Parker or a Jack Kerouac or “Papa Hemingway”, knock yourself out. You’ll look cool sashaying through the party with a martini in hand (Parker) or a whole bottle of whiskey (Kerouac, Faulkner, London, Hemingway — pick your modern American writer), and there is some fun in dressing up as a figure from history. The key here is going all the way: Do the voice, carry around props, be an actor. Anything less and your excuse to drink that whole bottle of Jim Beam just because you are carrying around a copy of Absalom, Absalom! starts to look pretty thin

Old-Timey bartender: Suspenders? Check. Vest? Check. Real handlebar mustache? Hold on a minute! This outfit is only acceptable if you don’t already have a real handlebar mustache. Yet for that reason, this is a great costume for women. Also: Whatever you are drinking, it should be from a Boston shaker or some other mixing glass.

Dionysus: The trick to successfully pulling off the Greek god of wine is to procure a wine skin. Not bottles, no jugs: just a bean-shaped bag made from the skin of a goat. How rad would this be? Super-rad.

Costumes That Are About Liquor

A bootlegger: Take advantage of all that white whiskey that’s been flooding the market. All you need is a jug, a gray scraggly beard, and a pair of overalls. For the full effect, I recommend having some other friends dress up as G-Men and chase you around the party as you do illegal booze runs from one side to the other. High-freaking fives.

Cocktail shaker: Let’s say you are on the dance floor, right? And rather than pulling out the old, tired dance moves — the running man, the lawnmower, the cabbage patch — you announce you will now do “the Sidecar” and pour brandy, lemon juice, cointreau, sugar, and ice in your mouth and jump around for like twenty seconds. Be careful with this one.

A liquor still: The idea is you are the very process of distilling spirits: a large pot, some tubes and coils, something that represents heating and condensing. You walk around and — through some clever DIY-ing —dispense liquor through a spout of some kind. And if you are a gin still, you have the added bonus of carrying around juniper berries and justifiably downing super-high proof grain alcohol all night as your base.

Costumes Enhanced by Your Own Drunkenness

Your own regrettable mugshot: All you really need for this is a jailhouse I.D. plaque (which you can hang around your neck) and a desire to spend the night standing mostly in front of brightly lit white walls. (This is an especially good move for twins, who can simultaneously pose as both a front mugshot and a side shot of the same person.)

A toddler: You know who also weaves around and babbles like a drunk person? A 3-year old. Similar to any of the “Famous Drunks” costumes from above, this one requires you to go all the way. Get a weird haircut, a set of overalls with a football or puppy on them, and, of course, a sippy cup.

The London Gin Craze of the 1700s: In the first half of the eighteenth century, London experienced a full-scale gin epidemic — and continual drunkenness consumed a good portion of the citizenry and Parliament had to step in multiple times to sober things up. In other words: This is a great costume for you and your whole sociology grad department.

And if you really must, any of the above costumes will probably be enhanced if you make them sexy (except the toddler, since, ew). But remember: Halloween is primarily and appropriately celebrated by children and/or pagans (both of whom share a belief in magic). Whatever drunken shenanigans you get into, steer clear of legitimate trick or treaters and people who refer to themselves as witches. There are many behaviors that are inexcusable always and forever, regardless of a clever costume. Don’t think your outfit lets you off the hook for being an asshole.

Matthew Latkiewicz writes about drinking and other subjects at You Will Not Believe. His work has appeared in McSweeney’s, Wired,, Boing Boing, and Gastronomica. Follow him on Twitter.

Sloshed: Nine Halloween Costume Ideas That Are Really Just Excuses to Drink More