The Psycho Killer Is The Chocolate Cocktail That's Criminally Good

Its name may suggest otherwise, but there's nothing inherently unlawful about the Psycho Killer. It's just one of those cocktails created from such an unexpected combination of ingredients — Irish whiskey, white creme de cacao, banana liqueur, cocoa nib-infused Campari, and a dash or two of absinthe — that one would think it would be illegal, or at least ill-advised, to serve to unsuspecting bar patrons. But just like in the best big-screen thrillers, there's a surprise ending. The seemingly incompatible elements come together to make a killer cocktail. Created in 2014 by Jillian Vose, the longtime beverage director at New York City's The Dead Rabbit and current co-owner (along with The Dead Rabbit's Sean Muldoon) of the much-anticipated Hazel and Apple in Charleston, South Carolina, the Psycho Killer is an inspired twist on a classic Boulevardier, a satisfying blend of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Campari.

We're not sure what inspired Vose to add flavor elements like chocolate, banana, citrus, and licorice to the mix, but her ingenuity paid off big time as the Psycho Killer quickly rose through the ranks of The Dead Rabbit's quirky cocktail menu to become a favorite among patrons. In light of The Dead Rabbit's status as an award-winning Irish bar — the current spirits menu lists 94 varieties of Irish whiskey — it's no wonder Vose selected Redbreast 12 Year Old as the central ingredient. The sherry-style whiskey known for smooth notes of spice and fruit is a seemingly perfect foil for rich flavors like chocolate and banana.

What's with the names?

While Jillian Vose's recipe contains multiple ingredients, the drink is pretty simple to make. Start with two ounces of Redbreast 12 Year Old. Add ½-ounce Giffard White Creme De Cacao, ½-ounce Giffard Banane Liqueur, ¾-ounce cocoa nib-infused Campari, and two dashes of Absinthe Verte. Stir and serve in a Nick and Nora glass or on the rocks in an old fashioned glass. Wait! What was that about cocoa nib-infused Campari? Okay, there is one other little step. To recreate an authentic Psycho Killer, you'll need to infuse the Campari before you get started. Not to worry. It's a simple process. At least an hour before serving, add three tablespoons of cocoa nibs (you'll find them in the baking aisle at most grocery stores) to one liter of Campari. Let it sit for an hour, then use a strainer to remove the nibs. Voila! You have created a cocoa nib-infused spirit.

And while we can't shed light on why Vose named her creation the Psycho Killer, we do know how the bar where it was created got its name. There's even an obscure criminal connection. The Dead Rabbit moniker is a nod to Irish immigrants who settled in lower Manhattan during the mid-19th century when the slum-like neighborhood was in flux. To protect their community, Irish immigrants engaged in fierce turf wars, forming sketchy bands of brothers — including the Dead Rabbit gang — to go up against potential interlopers like the Bowery Boys and the Eastman Gang.