Día de los Muertos is a celebration of life, actually. As strange as that seems with all of the imagery of skulls, Catrinas (skeleton women) and shrines (ofrendas), the rationale is a positive one: bring back the spirit of the beloved dead to comfort the living and share in the present. The holiday manifests its significance with decorations of marigolds, candles, candy skulls, pan de Muertos (a special holiday bread) and the ever-present La Catrina. Costumes with elaborate Catrina makeup, parties, parades, and festive meals are all part of the holiday which kicks off at the end of October and runs into early November.
In New York, you don’t have to be Latino or Mexican to participate in the celebration.
For two days, on October 26 and 27, the annual Day of the Dead – Día de Muertos celebration in New York City includes a variety of events and workshops set in the churchyard of St. Mark’s in-the-Bowery in the East Village. Visitors are invited to remember their own loved ones and bring copies of photographs, candles, and marigold flowers to adorn the church’s community altar. Workshops, dance, poetry and music are all part of the celebration.
As would be expected in New York City, food plays a large role in the celebration of the holiday.
Mexican Westside fave, Vida Verde holds a weeklong Day of the Dead celebration with a full range of holiday cocktails, programming and food from October 25-November 2. I especially like the aptly named Dessert for the Recently Departed (panna cotta) made with dragonfruit and chipotle raspberry sauce.
Even ice cream gets a Día de los Muertos twist in New York. In celebration of Día de los Muertos this year, the award-winning Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya has partnered with boozy creamery Tipsy Scoop in Brooklyn to create an exciting and exclusive mezcal-infused ice cream. Not even the dearly departed can resist this creation with a chocolate-cinnamon ice cream base infused with Montelobos Espadin Mezcal Joven and orange bitters.
Starting October 31 and continuing throughout the weekend, New York City’s four Dos Caminos restaurants host a Day of The Dead fiesta with special drinks, menu items and DJ music. Try the signature spiced calabaza and smoked bacon guacamole for a special kick – it’s deglazed with Don Julio blanco tequila – paired with a Dos Caminos Garden cocktail made with Don Julio and served in a sugar skull glass.