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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Five stakes through your heart: a handful of Halloween cocktails

The best way to put down a vampire is with a stake through the heart. What, you are probably asking, is the best way to put down a Halloween cocktail? What should you do if you see a Halloween cocktail lurching toward you down a lonely road on a cold, dark, moonless night? When, after you’ve run yourself to exhaustion and are leaning against a stone wall to catch your breath, you realize it’s the wall around the graveyard and scream… and the cocktail continues to draw inexorably nearer and nearer… What do you do? Experience shows that the most effective action is to grasp it firmly by its scrawny neck and toss it down before it can attack. And that, children (only if over 21), is the best way to handle an aggressive cocktail. Feel free to click the links below, or view the slideshow.

The first Halloween cocktail is one even your mother would enjoy, the Bob for Apples. What’s not to like about Rum, cinnamon, and apples? Think of Mom’s homemade apple pie with a kick (and with a spider garnish).

Although it sounds horrid, the Spider’s Venom cocktail actually verges on the sweet. The Spider Venom (a distant relative of the Piña Colada) should be drunk from a specially prepared cocktail glass as a charm to protect you from the venom.

It pays to keep an eye out for the Bloodshot cocktail when walking past the graveyard at night. Watch out, having been evicted from its own socket, this roguish cocktail’s roving eyeball may want to settle in one of yours.

If you should manage to escape the graveyard intact and alive (though just barely) and make it home, the best way to get your blood flowing again (but not too much, you don’t want to attract the wrong sort of undead) is with a Corpse Reviver. This beauty doesn’t look like a Halloween cocktail, but it’s sure to cure what ails you. The medley of flavors in this cocktail is very enjoyable, so give it a try at your Halloween soirée.

Last, and far from the least, is the Zombie, a cocktail that will knock you on your ass if you’re not careful or don’t show it the proper respect, a cocktail whose namesake must have had a Corpse Reviver poured into it, for there’s no other plausible explanation for its existence. Don’t be seduced into having several, or think you’ll have “just one more,” or you may end up a zombie yourself.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Zombie: a cocktail to make you feel like the living dead

What would Halloween be without zombies? Zombie cocktails, that is. If there was ever a drink that could make you feel like one of the living dead, this is it. This is one cocktail where you should definitely limit yourself to just one to better preserve both your health and your dignity. The Zombie has been attributed to Don the Beachcomber, but some say the first zombie arose when a defrocked, Haitian priest (no offense intended to any group mentioned in this post) poured a Corpse Reviver cocktail into a fresh corpse. Furthermore, there is evidence that Zombies (cocktails, that is) can make you lose your memory. My memories of my Zombie drinking days are fuzzy; so it’s a good bet that I never stopped at just one, but now age and wisdom have both fallen upon me (age perhaps more than wisdom), so there is probably just one Zombie in the cards for me tonight. As the bottom of the glass approaches, however, I find myself noticing that all of the bottles are still open and waiting for me on the bar…

A Zombie cocktail is either a double or a triple, but who’s counting? Begin with rum: an ounce each of light, gold, and dark. (You may combine the light and gold into two ounces of one or the other if you’re short (on rum) or lazy, but you must have one or the other of those two and a dark rum (Gosling’s® is good).) Then a half ounce of Crème de Noyau (almond) or Amaretto (if that’s all you have). (Believe me, after you’ve drunk your Zombie you won’t care which one you used). The classic Zombie then calls for a half an ounce of Bacardi® 151 to be floated on top, but dark rum is an acceptable substitute and will moderate your intake of alcohol. As for the glass, size matters. The Zombie in the beautiful photograph featured here is in a Hurricane glass. That glass left little room for the addition of OJ and Dark Rum, so you can guess which one won out. If there was still to be room for the dark rum, only about ½ oz of OJ could be (and was) used (by now you have probably realized that the OJ is not perhaps viewed as an essential ingredient). You might want to use a Collins glass or another, larger, glass to make room for more OJ if you’re trying to increase your Vitamin-C intake.

Zombie Cocktail

1 oz Light Rum (your favorite)

1 oz Gold Rum (ditto)

1 oz Dark Rum (Goslings® works well)

½ oz Crème de Noyau (or Amaretto)

1 oz Lime Juice, freshly squeezed

1 tsp Simple syrup (or substitute ½ oz Grenadine)

1-4 oz Orange juice

½ oz Bacardi® 151 or more Dark Rum

Pour all ingredients except the Orange juice and the 151 into a shaker half full of ice. Shake like the living dead are really after you. Fill the glass half full of ice (cubed or cracked) and strain the mixture from the shaker into the glass. Add ice to almost fill the glass, leaving room for the desired amount of OJ and the 151. Pour almost as much Orange juice as will fit into the glass and stir, being careful to leave room for the 151. Float the 151 on top, garnish with a cherry (or a slice of lime or orange), and serve with a black straw in honor of the dead on All Souls Eve. I would say “Santé,” but that kind of goes against the sprit of the thing…

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Bob for Apples cocktail – a recipe with ups and downs

Do you remember Halloween when you were a kid? On Halloween, of course, we always went trick-or-treating, but the Saturday before Halloween we used to go to the Halloween party at the F.O.P. hall. For refreshments, they had apple cider and fresh donuts coated with powdered sugar. Games were normal party games like pin the tail on the donkey and (the ever popular) bobbing for apples in a tub of ice-water. Brrr, that water was cold. Today my Halloween tastes are more inclined toward cocktails (no, they didn’t give us cocktails at the F.O.P. hall). Some might think, however, that the Spider Venom cocktail with its spider garnish is a little extreme, even for Halloween. For those, I have developed Bob for Apples, a Halloween treat that is not in the least bit scary and should help you channel the spirit of Halloween past.

A cocktail named Bob for Apples must contain (drum roll) some apple, so the apple juice was a no-brainer. A few variations using vodka didn’t quite work, so I switched to rum. It still lacked a little kick, so I added some Sour Apple Pucker and bitters for depth. The cocktail is a little dry, but the cinnamon sugar offsets that as you drink it, in addition to spicing it up a bit. Don’t skip the cinnamon sugar; it’s an important contributor to the overall taste of the cocktail. In case you’re too lazy to bother with it, you need to add a little simple syrup and cinnamon to the mix to balance the drink.

Bob for Apples

1 ½ oz light Rum

¼ oz Sour Apple Pucker

1 oz Apple Juice

1 dash (about 2 drops) Angostura Bitters

Rim a cocktail glass with cinnamon sugar and put it in the freezer. Combine the ingredients with ice in a mixing glass and stir briskly for as long it would take you to bob an apple out of a tub of ice-water. Strain into the prepared glass and garnish with a Maraschino cherry. Sip your way around the rim while musing on Halloween d’antan.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Spider Venom cocktail – a recipe for Halloween horror

One thing the teachers at my school were adamant about was that we should never, never drink warm spider venom. There was a rumor that a kid in the fourth grade had done just that, but the stories then diverged and got vague as to exactly how the kid had died… or had he? That’s why the Spider Venom cocktail should be drunk ice-cold. Drink it fast and never, ever let it get warm. The Spider Venom (a distant relative of the Piña Colada) should be drunk from a specially prepared cocktail glass as a charm to protect you from the venom. If it seems too sweet, vary the amount of lime juice a little to balance the sweetness of the cocoanut and Rum to get the taste you like.

Preparing the glass for this creepy concoction is not as difficult as you might think, and well worth the effort for the chilling affect it can have on your friends. Prepare several glasses and have them ready in the freezer when your guests arrive. Pour some chocolate syrup into a small bowl. You can also use Smuckers® Magic Shell as shown here; it will harden and last longer, not deteriorating into a messy looking, smeared web that would shame any self-respecting spider as the cocktail is consumed, but Hershey’s ® Syrup works well, too. Using a small paint brush, draw the radii first. Add the connectors, trying to have them “droop” consistently so the web will have a symmetrical appearance. If you don’t have any fine enough paint brushes, you can use a stirrer straw. You could also try squirting the chocolate syrup onto the chilled glass if you have a squeeze bottle with a nozzle that is small enough. (Warning: too much syrup in the glass can result in a sugar high.) Put the glasses in the freezer until you are ready to serve.

Spider Venom

2 oz light Rum

½ to 1 oz (one good, healthy squirt) Coco Reál® Cream of Coconut

1 tsp freshly squeezed Lime juice

Prepare a glass as described above and keep it in the freezer. Add the ingredients to an empty mixing glass or shaker bottom. Stir briskly to dissolve the Coco Reál. Fill about half full of ice, put on the top, and shake like your life depends on it, as well it may. (Remember: never drink warm spider venom.) Get the prepared glass from the freezer and strain the drink into it. Add a dash of grenadine; it will settle to the bottom like a drop of blood. Garnish with a spider (preferably artificial or deceased). Provide small spoons for those with a sweet tooth who want to eat the chocolate web.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bloodshot Cocktail – an eyeful of a recipe for Halloween terror

Have you ever faced a night of dread, fearing what you would feel when you woke in the morning? Well the Bloodshot cocktail can give you just such a night if you have too many, so keep a bleary eye on your drink tally. This recipe for disaster tastes so good and goes down so easily that it’s easy to over indulge (assuming that you like Cassis the way I do; my motto is “a Kir a day keeps the doctor away.”) Conceived in a fit of lust for Halloween blood and gore and perfected in a single evening of over-consumption, this watchful cocktail would scream in terror as it approached your glistening eye-teeth and greedy gullet if it only had a mouth. Do the humane thing and eat its bloodshot eye first so it can’t see what’s coming…

The Bloodshot is best served in a tall, narrow glass so you can skewer its weeping eyeball on a cocktail pick and perch it above the drink. My eyeballs (see photo) are constructed from a Maraschino cherry for the ball, and a half of a dried Montmorency cherry for the pupil (a whole dried cherry is a little too large, you could substitute a raisin). Split the Maraschino just enough to jam the pupil in and then skewer it. You will need to balance the eyeball so that it is either looking up or tilting toward the drinker, which is harder to do. There are other eyeball construction techniques on the web, just pick one that looks gross enough and be sure it looks good and red. Use you favorite mixed-drink vodka (Gordon’s is a steal at $10/bottle). Don’t go too cheap on the Crème de Cassis (unless you like the taste of cough syrup). In Utah, you will have to spend over $20 a bottle for Cartron to get something decent. If this cocktail doesn’t suit your Halloween taste, try a Corpse Reviver.


1 ½ oz Vodka

¼ oz Crème de Cassis

1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice

Make and skewer an eyeball (see above). Add ingredients to a mixing glass half full of ice. Stir for as long as it would take for a blind zombie seeking eyeballs to chase you half a block. Strain into a shot glass (2 to 2 ½ oz) and perch the Bloodshot eyeball on top. Here’s looking at you, kid.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tequila Lavanda cocktail – a new twist on Tequila and Lavender

A Tequila recipe caught my eye recently. It was for a Tequila cocktail called a Tamarindo Borracho. The recipe was pretty simple, having just three ingredients: Añejo Tequila, lime, and syrup, and the photo made it look really appetizing. In this case the syrup was a Tamarind-Chile syrup that is (sadly) missing from my bar, but it got me thinking about the bottle of lavender syrup that was on the top shelf of the fridge. My Tequila Mojito recipe had taught me that tequila goes well with mint (a relative of lavender) and I once mixed one using lavender syrup (instead of ordinary simple syrup) that had turned out quite well, so it looked like a syrup substitution was in order. Lavender syrup is obviously not hot and spicy like Tamarind-Chile syrup, so the two cocktails are not remotely similar in taste, but the result was surprisingly good and reminded me that it’s usually wise to experiment, especially where cocktails are concerned.

In the spirit of experiment, and if you think you would enjoy it, you should give the Tequila Lavanda a try. It might work with a nice Plata, too. If do try it, post a response and let all of us know how it comes out. If you don’t have any lavender syrup around your bar, there are lavender syrup recipes on the web that can be made using either fresh or dried lavender. My preferred garnish is a wedge of lime because you can squeeze a bit into your cocktail if you decide it’s a little too sweet for your taste.

Tequila Lavanda

2 oz Añejo Tequila (or try some Plata)

juice of ½ Lime, freshly squeezed (½ oz )

½ oz Lavender syrup

Put the ingredients into an empty shaker and stir well to mix the syrup. Add ice and shake until your hand gets cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or serve on the rocks in an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a wedge of lime. As always, vary the syrup to suit your taste.