Halloween cocktails, snacks for a night of fright

October 26, 2015

Witch's Potion, left, and Floating Spiders, served with Reese's Spiders.

Get in the spirit of the season with Halloween potions that are not tricky to make.

In fact, all you need for a shocktail is a good spirit, fresh fruit juices, creepy props and your imagination for coming up with a name for the drink.

Adam Henry, cocktail director at Independent Brewing Co. in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill, has five rules of thumb for Halloween cocktails:

1. "Absolutely go with punch," he says. It helps a host to spend more time with guests rather than be stuck behind the bar. Punch, which comes from the Sanskrit word panch, which means five, is made with five ingredients — spirits, some kind of a citrus, sugar, spices such as nutmeg and tea or prosecco, or even sparkling water. It is an inherent communal drink that can be stretched to meet the crowd size. And guests can return to the bowl for refills without feeling that they are over-indulging as punches have a low-alcohol content.

2. Consider adding seasonal flavors, such as apple brandy, cinnamon, pear and allspice, to your cocktail.

3. Opt for drinks in orange and black, after all they are the official hues of the holiday. An eerie black drink can be made with pulverized, activated charcoal or with squid ink, that is if you don’t mind a briny cocktail that tastes like the ocean. Aperol is the go-to drink for that perfect orange color. The orange-flavored Italian aperitif is bittersweet, and pairs well with prosecco. "There’s also the turmeric root, but it is harder to work with," Henry says. "It’s not so much for flavor, and more for color."

4. It cannot be a Halloween party without the zombie. The quintessential tiki drink is so potent that it could have you walking like one those characters from "The Walking Dead." It is made with three kinds of rums, lime juice, grapefruit juice, cinnamon, falernum (a spiced, citrus Caribbean drink), grenadine and bitters. Created by Earnest Gantt, aka Don the Beachcomber, it was the original farm-to-table drink, Henry says.

5. Create a smoky, spooky feel around the cocktail table by using dry ice. When warm liquid is poured over dry ice, it instantly produces a huge volume of dense fog for a dramatic effect, Henry says. But it needs to be handled with care because it can cause frostbite. Additionally, Henry cautions never to serve dry ice in a drink itself as it should not be ingested; but should be only used peripherally. So a bowl of punch should be placed inside a larger bowl containing dry ice and warm water.



PG tested

The fizzy cocktail is an exercise in simplicity.

3 ounces vodka

3 ounces pomegranate-cranberry juice

Cola to fill glass

8 large, dark-colored raisins for garnish

Pour vodka and juice into glass. Swirl gently. Top off the glass with cola. Garnish with raisins.

Serves 1.

— Arthi Subramaniam


PG tested

Ditch the colorful, paper umbrellas for plastic spiders, and you’ll be carried away to a tropical island that celebrates Halloween.

2 ounces coconut rum

3 ounces carrot juice

3 ounces orange juice

2 ounces pineapple juice

Pour all ingredients into glass. Swirl gently. Place plastic spiders on top of the drink.

Serves 1.

— Arthi Subramaniam


PG tested

This is essentially a gussied-up version of the Aperol Spritz (Aperol, soda water and prosecco), converted into punch proportions, says Adam Henry, cocktail director at Independent Brewing Co. in Squirrel Hill.

6 ounces London Dry-style gin, such as Beefeater

1/2 bottle (25.4 ounces) Aperol

6 ounces lemon juice, freshly squeezed and strained

3 ounces orange juice, freshly squeezed

3 ounces grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed

10 ounces water

1 bottle dry prosecco or other dry sparkling wine

Lemon wheels for garnish

Combine all ingredients other than the sparkling wine and refrigerate.

Refrigerate the sparkling wine separately as well. Just before serving, transfer non-wine ingredients to a punch bowl with a large block of ice that has been frozen overnight in an orange juice carton, or plenty of ice cubes. Add with sparkling wine, and stir gently.

Garnish with several lemon wheels.

Makes 10 6-ounce servings (more, as ice dilutes). Recipe can be doubled.

— Independent Brewing Co.


PG tested

These spiders on an attack can be made in a jiffy, and are crowd-pleasers.

8 Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins (12 ounces each)

3 large pretzel twists

1 tablespoon sour cream

16 mini chocolate chips

Remove wrappers from Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins and place chocolates on a wooden board.

Cut curved sections from the pretzels to form the legs.

Dot cream cheese above the nose of the chocolate to make eyes. Then place a chocolate chip on each of the eyes.

Makes 8 spiders.

— Adapted from Hershey’s



McClatchy-Tribune Information Services