How To: Put some Spook in your Halloween Spirits
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 13:10
Dear “I’m throwing a last-minute Halloween party,”
As I get older, I drift away from the ghostly and creepy and float more into the creative and autumn-colored when it comes time to decorate for Halloween; yet, I am recently realizing that some of the best décor comes from a tasteful combination of haunted and haute. And one of the simplest ways to mix the two is with a mixer. So grab some autumn beer, spiked cider and an assortment of wine and pair them with some of tricks and treats for a Halloween party that is sure to impress your guests!
Make a pumpkin keg for your beer…
Blood, sweat and pumpkin seeds are the three things that come to mind when I think of the mess that is hallowing out a pumpkin for carving. So instead of finishing the process with a jack-o-lantern face, turn the hallowed out pumpkin into a much more useful creation and reward yourself with a beer. Buy a small plastic spigot (you can find them at any hardware store, such as Sears or Lowe’s for anywhere from around $5 to 15, depending on brand and features) and make sure your pumpkin is hallowed out to a little under one inch. The thinner the pumpkin, the easier it will be to fasten the spigot and the more beer it will be able to hold. Placing the pumpkin on the edge of the counter, mark with a permanent marker where you will attach the spigot. You want it high enough so that it works and guests can easily get beer but low enough for the beer to flow so about two inches up from where the pumpkin meets the surface is generally a good area. Make a hole about the size of the spigot with your carving tool or knife. Remember, you can always carve more, but you cannot carve less so make sure it fits securely before fastening the washer around the spigot on the inside of the pumpkin. Test the pumpkin keg with water and then add about a six-pack of beer (check out Marshall’s Mugs for some fantastic seasonal choices, though I recommend a nice craft pumpkin beer that will only be enhanced by the natural flavors of the keg) for a large pumpkin, before placing the top back. And if you do not want to buy the spigot, you can always take a bowl about the size of the inside of the pumpkin, cut the pumpkin across about one-third of the way down and place the bowl inside the pumpkin. Add ice and place the beers in the pumpkin bucket.
Sip your spiked cider from actual apples…
If you want to remind your guests that the cider doesn’t flow far from the apple, grab a bag of large apples in any variety of your choice. I myself prefer Granny Smith because they tend to enhance the flavor of the cider nicely, though Fuji apples are perfectly ripe this time of year. Wash the apples and let them dry thoroughly before slicing the top off across, keeping as much of the fruit as possible. Take an apple corer and remove the center of the apple. Then, from the core out, carefully cut the rest of the middle away, leaving about half of an inch inside the skin so apple can stand and solidly hold the cider. Repeat for as many apples as you like, then “salt” the apple by dipping the rim into a small bowl of water or caramel then placing it in a small bowl of brown sugar and cinnamon. Feel free to play around with your “salt” concoctions and add nutmeg, dark brown sugar or any other flavor you think will enhance the cider. Finish by filling the cups with the cider shortly before your guests arrive and, if you feel really ambitious or just plain autumn-spirited? Complete the look with cinnamon stick straws.
Turn your wine into potions with eerie labels…
To transform vino into venom all you have to do is cut out some paper large enough to cover the actual label on the wine bottle and decorate it with some ghoulish font and Halloween-related images. For a bottle of red, grab a piece of purple paper and draw the silhouette of a witch on a broom flying over a full moon or of a bubbling cauldron and fill the image with dark black marker. Write the words, “Witches Brew” in glitter or silver permanent marker. Use green paper on a bottle of white and label it “Poison,” with some sparkling webs and skulls for décor. Finally, for some rosé wine, get an orange label and go with a more light-hearted “Pumpkin Juice,” and include a pop of pumpkin patch imagery. You can also put the labels on liquor and use titles such as “Spider Cider,” “Tombstone Tonic” or “Elixir of Bat Wing” to make any spirit a spooky one.