While I’m marginally opposed to Halloween as a new-fangled kind of affair and an unashamed celebration of naked human greed, I have to confess it also offers a damn good excuse to dress up and party.
And it seems London bars agrees with me, with a plethora of good nights on offer across the capital this weekend. Not to mention a number of excellent Halloween-influenced drinks menus.
For instance, Trader Vics are offering Voodoo-themed cocktails until the end of October. Having been to a tasting of these, I can vouch not only for their utter deliciousness but their value-for-money, spectacular serve. When you opt for Tiki, you abandon the tenets of (so-called) good taste and therefore, in spite of a degree of sophistication in the decor and service, Vics’ drinks are rightly uninhibited in their OTT Tiki-tastic kitsch.
My favourites from the Halloween menu were the Duppy (Appleton Rum, Sweet vermouth, Sugar Syrup, Apple Juice, Lemon Juice, Chilli Pepper) – named after a Jamaican ghost, this strong and spicy drink will without doubt make your hair stand on end; the Voodoo spell (Appleton dark rum, Sloe gin, Trader Vics grog mix, Lemon juice, Pineapple juice, Flamed with Wray and Nephew rum) – a hypnotisingly exotic mix; and the Black Stripe (Elements 8 gold rum, Maraschino, Cinnamon, Cloves) – a grog to keep any sailor afloat, with or without a boat.
As I said these brews are available until the end of October and Trader Vics are actually holding a Halloween party, Voodoo Spell on 31 October – this might be a good (and last) occasion to check these drinks out.
Other London venues holding Halloween and cocktail-related events include:
In addition to kicking my heels up at a number of these venues, I’ll probably also be doing some entertaining at home over Halloween and I’m sure I’m not alone in finding it a useful occasion to use up the odds and ends in my cocktail cabinet to make simultaneously less sophisticated and less alcoholic drinks than usual (the latter always being wise at parties).
A number of drinks companies are tapping into this trend. First off is a suggestion from Southern Comfort. Now, I always struggle with SC as an ingredient as it’s not to my palate, although a number of my friends love it. Usually I just provide them with a bottle of lemonade and leave them to it but this Halloween might be different as SC’s PR have come up with some New Orleans, Voodoo inspired concoctions that sound quite tempting, such as the Voodoo Jam below:
40 ml Southern Comfort
1 heaped teaspoon of premium strawberry jam
20 ml fresh lemon juice
30 ml fresh orange juice
30 ml light red wine (Pinot Noir)
Dash of bitters
Garnish- mint sprig/ orange slice/ strawberry
Remove the lid from the jam jar and fill with cubed ice. Add all ingredients. Securely replace the jam jar lid and give the jar a good shake. Add the garnish and serve your delicious creation.
Tips: For Halloween try a blackcurrant/blackberry jam, and garnish with autumn fruits.
Kiss of the spider woman
This drink utilises a spirit (Salto Cachaca) that is ideal for party drinking in that it has a lower abv of 24% but still has plenty of flavour. For this recipe, I’ve added a sinister note to a traditional Brazilian favourite with a creme de mure float.
Place lime and sugar into old-fashioned glass and muddle (mash the two ingredients together using a muddler or a wooden spoon). Fill the glass with crushed ice and add the Cachaça. Top with a float of Creme de Mure. (Multiply the quantities to make jugs for entertaining)
Finally, with a new addition to my cocktail cabinet, Agwa de Bolivia, I intend to keep the party going with this simple variation to a Mule. I have some reservations about the additives in Agwa de Bolivia but as a party mixer it does gain kudos with its reputedly energy boosting ingredients of coca leaf, guarana and ginseng. And, in spite of the unrealistic green colouring, I do rather like its fresh herbal flavours.
It’s also a wise idea to serve longer drinks at parties, partly as they translate well to larger serves (freeing up your time as host) and partly to give less experienced drinkers a ‘softer’ option.
2 Black Vodka (or when it’s not Halloween, just plain vodka)
1 Agwa de Bolivia
4 ginger beer
Pour first four ingredients over ice in a highball glass. Add dash of Tabasco and a fresh chilli pepper garnish if desired.