Episode 072 - Halloween Cocktails
What’s shakin’ cocktail fans?
Welcome back to another episode of The Modern Bar Cart Podcast!
This episode, we assemble a veritable Pinterest board of Halloween cocktail ideas to help you make the most out of your Halloween cocktail parties this year. Whether you’re hosting or simply tasked with providing a drink, there’s definitely some idea in this episode that will spark your imagination.
Our guest this week is Carolyn Kozlik, our host Eric’s amazing wife.
She’s a Halloween fanatic, and she aggressively critiques spooky decorations around DC, but she’s always surprising and impressing me with her crafty ideas for delicious food and cocktail projects, so I knew she’d be the perfect guest for this episode.
Some of the topics we cover with Carolyn include:
Fall-themed ingredients for your autumnal cocktail pursuits
Service methods and creative garnishes for Halloween cocktail parties of all sorts - including how to make an eyeball out of a lychee.
Which ingredients to use if you want to create ghoulish colors in your drinks - and perhaps more importantly - which ingredients to avoid.
A whole list of classic cocktails with spooky names (and one creepily recurring ingredient)
And much, much more
Featured Cocktail: The Widow’s Kiss
To make this classic drink, you’ll need the following ingredients:
1.5 oz Apple Brandy
¾ oz Benedictine
¾ oz Yellow Chartreuse
Several Dashes of Aromatic Bitters (we like to use our Embitterment Aromatic Bitters)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, stir until well chilled, and then strain into a coupe glass.
Garnish recommendations vary for The Widow’s Kiss, but I usually like to go with an expressed lemon twist to add a bit of levity to this intense, dark drink.
A couple notes on the liquid ingredients:
When possible, use Calvados as your apple brandy. It’s light, but sophisticated, and it’s definitely going to yield a much more pleasant drink than something like an applejack.
Benedictine and Yellow Chartreuse are expensive bottles, but they last a LONG time, so if you’re wondering if you should break down and make these purchases, at least take comfort that they have a lot of great applications and that a little goes a long way.
During this episode, we offer a whole host of classic, halloween-appropriate cocktails. Here’s a list of the ones we cover, with links to recipes:
Spooky Colored Ingredients
Adding creepy colors to your cocktails isn’t always easy. If you’re not careful, it can end in a muddy, unsophisticated mess - or worse, an artificial color bomb that stains your guests’ teeth. Here are some cocktail ingredients and techniques you can use to add ghoulish colors to your drinks.
Blue Curacao vs. Butterfly Pea Flower
If you want to go blue, the obvious choice for most is Blue Curacao. However, this is a fairly artificial ingredient, and it’s farily syrupy compared to the normal dry curacao that’s called for in many classic cocktails,
Instead, try playing around with Butterfly Pea Flowers as a coloring agent. The yield a nice blue color when heated in water as a tea or a syrup, and the color changes to bright magenta when acid is added to the cocktail.
This is one to be careful with. Activated charcoal can create a stunning, black cocktail, but its main use is to strip polyphenols and other chemicals out of cocktails (and out of your body). One incidental side-effect is that it tends to strip flavor. Perhaps leave this one to the professionals unless you have extensive experience using it.
Midori Melon liqueur vs. Green Chartreuse
If you want a green cocktail, there are a couple attractive options. On the low-priced end of the spectrum, you’ve got Midori Melon, which tastes very sweet and artificial. Then, on the pricier side, you’ve got Green Chartreuse. Both are going to yield a really nice green character when paired with clear spirits & mixers.
If you want to delight your guests with cocktails that have different color layers, play around with liquids that have different weights. Generally speaking, the higher the alcohol, the more likely it will be to float (so add it to the glass last). The more sugar is present, the heavier the liquid will be, which means it will sit well at the bottom of the glass.
Be careful, though! Your guests might not know to stir a layered drink before taking a sip, so make sure you consider the use case before passing out drinks with different liquid layers.
According to Carolyn, eyeballs are in this year! Everybody wants a nice eyeball floating in their highball. If you’d like to make this sort of revolting garnish, you’ve got a couple options:
Another great DIY fall cocktail garnish is to get your hands on some citrus, cut it into thin wheels, and dehydrate it in the oven on hyper-low heat.
The result is a fun and easy-to-manage garnish that can be loaded into a bowl at your cocktail station.
Here are some instructions on how to dehydrate citrus wheels.