Scare tactics: drinks for the Halloween weekend

Bite Me Martini at Zenna

This year, Halloween falls on a Monday but this has not scared off bars, pubs and clubs from running parties and promotions – in fact, it’s allowed many of them to turn it into four days of freaky fun, including special drinks menus and cocktails.

“Halloween becomes a bigger and bigger event in the calendar each year,” says Debs Carter, marketing director for Beverage Brands which is running Halloween-themed promotions for WKD. “This time around, with the day itself falling on a Monday, licensees should really enter into the spirit of things and prepare to be frighteningly busy with weekend-long celebrations.”

The Vampire Shocker

Beverage Brands has come up with a range of playful WKD promotions under the banner of Public House of Horrors, from giant cobwebs and hanging bats to pumpkin-shaped hats as giveaways. They are also promoting jug serves such as the Vampire Shocker (pictured), made with WKD Red, vodka, blackcurrant cordial and lemonade with lots of ice, and the Witches Brew, which mixes WKD Iron Brew, dark rum and lemonade plus lots of ice.

Halloween has also been embraced by top cocktail bars as an opportunity to add special drinks to their menus. At Zenna Bar in Soho, London, manager Dan Thomson has developed another spicy cocktail for the occasion called Bite Me (pictured above):

Bite Me Martini
2 parts Stolichnaya Vodka
1 part lime juice
0.5 part gomme syrup
2 parts Rubicon lychee juice
2 slices jalapeño pepper
0.5 part grenadine

Shake all the ingredients except the grenadine and fine-strain the liquid into a martini glass with the grenadine sunk in the bottom.

Zombies are very much in vogue on TV and on film, so expect to see them appearing on bar menus. The traditional Zombie cocktail dates back to the 1930s when it was invented by Donn Beach of Hollywood restaurant Don the Beachcomber. Recipes vary but a new book on cocktails by Sam Bompas and Harry Parr uses dark rum, overproof rum, light rum, falernum, absinthe, lime juice, sugar, Angostura Bitters, grenadine and grapefruit juice.

A Zombie cocktail (from Ron Botran)

The team at drinks consultancy Distillnation have come up with their own Zombies for Ron Botran from Guatemala, including this one:

Double Rock Botran Zombie
1 oz Botran Reserva
1 oz Botran Solera
½ oz Passion fruit juice
½ oz Mango fruit juice
¾ oz Orgeat syrup
¾ oz Lime juice

Combine ingredients and shake well and strain over crushed ice.

Melon liqueur Midori features in the new movie Fright Night, where vampire killer Peter Vincent, played by David Tennant, enjoys it as a neat serve. In celebration of this, a cocktail called a Fright Night Sour has been created which has been taken up by Adventure Bars in London. It is supported by promotional activity at the four bars across the Halloween weekend and via a Facebook campaign to drive awareness of the liqueur’s inclusion in the film. Midori brand manager Nick Barker said: “We’re looking forward to amplifying the brand’s involvement with Fright Night this Halloween through our on-trade promotional activity and we hope that this in turn will help to keep Midori front of mind with consumers and also creative bartenders who want to create a stir in their own venues.”

Fright Night Sour
50ml Midori
12.5ml Lemon
12.5ml Lime
A drizzle of grenadine

Shake the Midori, lemon and lime and strain, pouring over ice in a rocks glass. Drizzle the grenadine round the top.

A Red Manhattan made with Red Stag

Drinks are being promoted for Halloween by Maxxium UK for its black cherry-flavoured bourbon Red Stag by Jim Beam, including the Red Manhattan, a simple version of a Manhattan (see below). Other drinks are due to be served up at a Halloween party this coming Saturday, with a partnership between Red Stag and the company behind Kigu Japanese animal suits. The result is the Monster Raving Kigu Party at a secret location in east London.

Red Manhattan
1 measure of Red Stag by Jim Beam
½ measure of dry vermouth
½ measure of sweet vermouth

Shake with cubed ice and fine-strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with a cherry or, according to Maxxium, “for extra eeriness add a jelly eye or spider”.

Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands (BBFB) is providing Halloween-themed promotional kits to bars, pubs and clubs across the UK, including student unions, for Southern Comfort, featuring a voodoo character called Baron Jazz. A number of “Voodoo” serves are being promoted for Southern Comfort in the on-trade including the new signature Cajun Thunder – a shot using dashes of hot Tabasco pepper sauce.

A sample menu from Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands

BBFB has taken other serves and given them ghoulish names as part of their menu service for licensees (pictured). They range from the Knightrider, made with Jack Daniel’s, Jägermeister, cranberry juice and lemonade, to the Red Rum, which combines Bacardi Superior, cranberry juice, apple juice and lemonade.

With so many drinks companies and bar owners getting into the Halloween spirit, the eve of All Hallows Day has changed considerably over the past 10 years. According to foodservice research company Planet Retail, Halloween was worth about £280million in the UK last year – 20 times what it was a decade ago. Barware specialist John Artis has even come up with glassware for serving Halloween-themed drinks. They include ruby-red and jet-black highball glasses and tumblers as well as their own tiki sundae glass which is perfect for serving Zombie cocktails.

Halloween glassware from John Artis

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About barmagazine

Editor of Bar magazine
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