To kids, Halloween is all about the candy and costumes. It's not all that different for adults, but our costumes tend to be skimpier and our candy is often 80-proof and in a glass. Whether it's downtime after the trick-or-treaters drop off into bed, or fuel top deal with all of those Snookies out barhopping, Halloween calls for cocktails tailored to fit the occasion.
Some of these witches brews go for broke, imitating blood and even more unsavory bodily fluids. Others take a more subtle approach – classics that aim to fit the mood of the day with holiday appropriate names and ingredients. Either way, there's a drink to fit virtually every approach to the holiday, as demonstrated by these four cocktails.
The Pumpkin Buttered Rum – Perfect for the parent chilled to the bone from hitting up “just one more house” to maximize the candy payload, or a lazy night in handing out treats, the Pumpkin Buttered Rum is a twist on the classic Hot Buttered Rum. Like a traditional Hot Buttered Rum, it's rich, aromatic with spices and warm and soothing. But the addition of pumpkin makes it more addictive than any Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte could ever dream of being, not to mention easing any fears that the sheer amount of sugar downed by the kids will lead to sudden onset diabetes.
2 T pumpkin butter*
3 oz. dark rum (an aged rum like Pyrat is a great fit, with some rich molasses flavor to it)
Spoon the pumpkin butter into a mug and top with the rum. Top off the mixture with boiling water and stir. Take a big whiff before gulping it down and make sure to let it cool a bit. Blistered tongues may be in fashion on Halloween, but they hurt like hell.
*To make the pumpkin butter, combine:
1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
2 cups light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 T ginger
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
Pinch ground cloves
Cream the ingredients together and refrigerate to harden it up.
The Corpse Reviver – Tailor-made for a night out on the town the Corpse Reviver is a classic made for “...whenever steam and energy are needed,” or so says "The Savoy Cocktail Book". And what night could possibly require more steam and energy than the one night of the year adults are allowed, and even expected, to take on other personas? After all, it takes a lot of energy to be a sexy nurse, Chilean Miner or The Situation. And the Corpse Reviver should provide plenty – the warmth of the brandy intermingling with the herbal bite of Fernet Branca and the icy crème de menthe combine for a surprisingly enervating pour. Just what a masked man or woman needs to carry them through the night.
1 1/2 oz. Brandy
1/2 oz. Fernet Branca
1 oz. White Creme de Menthe
In a mixing glass filled with ice, combine brandy, fernet branca and the creme de menthe and stir until completely mixed. Strain into a cocktail glass and enjoy the looks your cat costume is scoring you. Or look up one of the countless variations of the Corpse Reviver to try with your next drink.
Haunting Punch – If you've got a crowd at your house for Halloween, it's hard to beat a bowl full of punch. Especially if its punch that has plenty of booze ,but still manages to be more than the sugary mess that most people associate with drinks served with a ladle. The Haunting combines tea, rye, ginger, honey and citrus for a light and refreshing punch that isn’t cloying, but still packs all the flavor your guests could ask for. Event better, it tastes delicious paired with the massive bowl of M&Ms everyone always puts out for Halloween.
10 oz. Rye (Hudson brand has great spice to it, but if you don't want to go so high-end, Jim Beam rye works well in a pinch)
4 oz. Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
4 oz. Barenjager honey liqueur
14 oz. lemon jasmine tea (or any other citrus tea if you can't find it)
3 oz. sugar
4 oz. orange juice
4 oz. red grapefruit juice
2 oz. lemon or lime juice
4 dashes orange bitters
Add the sugar and hot tea to a punch bowl and stir until dissolved. Once cool, add the other ingredients and stir. Add ice cubes to keep it chilled at the last minute and keep a close eye on your guests. That's a whole lot of liquor in that bowl.
The Blood & Sand – While this cocktail gets its name from a novel by Vincente Blasco Ibanez about a bullfighter, it's uniquely suited for an evening in watching classic, or not so classic, horror flicks. The drink has a unique red and tan glow that evokes its namesake, looking almost morbid, albeit oddly appealing, in the glass. With equal parts scotch, vermouth, cherry brandy and orange juice in the mix it's not a cocktail for the faint of heart. But the complex cherry and almond notes of the brandy, the oak of the scotch and the sweet tang of the orange juice combine to create a flavor far better than any fun size Snickers or peanut butter pumpkin could ever be. Plus, it pairs rather nicely with an Evil Dead marathon.
3/4 oz. scotch
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
3/4 oz. cherry brandy (Cherry Herring, a Danish liqueur, is by far the best and most traditional choice – it's not too sweet, with a solid lug of cherry and almond and some nice herbal kick)
3/4 oz. fresh orange juice
Shake all ingredients in a shaker full of ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Then kick back, turn up the movie and tune out the trick-or-treaters.