Let's face it: When most of us were children, Halloween was superfun. No wonder we never want to give it up! Sadly, concerns about child safety have tamed Halloween for actual children, who now attend safe, parent-supervised parties. Increasingly, celebrating All Hallows' Eve has been left to the adults.
Which brings me to the topic of Halloween cocktails. Cocktail culture in Austin is in full swing, bringing with it an increased appreciation for mixology. Just as celebrity chefs began appearing a decade ago, celebrity bartenders are inciting the craze at Austin's cocktail hot spots. Feeling certain that the big names were planning special "signature" cocktails for this year's Halloween bacchanalia, I got to barhopping. And every bartender I talked to had been busily devising new cocktails just for Halloween. Here's what some of them have in store.
Recipes for each of these cocktails are posted with this story online. Whether you head out in costume to sample cocktails on the town, or mix up a pitcher at home, these treats will stoke the revelry! • East Side Show Room will be making the East Side Zombie, a tall, cold classic, heightened with one-of-a-kind, esoteric liqueurs such as Cynar and Crème de Noyaux. This is one of the most potent cocktails out there (hence the name), and it goes down almost too smoothly to be believed.
• Lara Nixon of the Boxcar Bar will be using bitters manufactured by her own Bad Dog Bar Craft company to make the Hellcat, a fabulous gin, ginger liqueur, and apricot nectar concoction that tastes deceptively innocent.
• Juliana Fry, celebrity mixologist at the Tigress, will be shaking and straining the Zombie Prom, an absinthe twist on the Corpse Reviver No. 2 that switches up the ingredients for a fresh interpretation. It comes to your table with a slightly pink opalescence and a cool, bright, anise-filled flavor.
• Heading Downtown, libationist Joyce Garrison at the W Hotel has invented a decadent vodka Pumpkin Spice Martini, incorporating a trio of creamy liqueurs garnished with vodka whipped cream and sprinkled with spices and roasted pumpkin seeds.
• Sullivan's Steakhouse will be offering Dracula's Kiss, a straightforward highball made with black cherry vodka and cola.
• The HandleBar on East Fifth will feature the Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Pie, made with Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine.
• Jessica Sanders at Drink.Well on East 53rd came up with the Haunted Honeymoon, a complex, smoky variation of the classic "Honeymoon" cocktail, which was a flagship drink of the Brown Derby in Hollywood.
• Marcelo Nascimento, owner of the Lucky 13 Cocktail Company and winner of the 2011 National Master of the Manhattan (as well as other awards too numerous to mention) will be mixing up the Skull and Crossbones, a mad bowl of grog made with rum, bitters, black sugar, and orange peel.
Combine all ingredients except Cynar in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain over ice into a tall glass. Add the Cynar on the very top and accent with a straw and a paper umbrella.
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with flamed, expressed orange peel.
Shaken, strained, served in a coupe.
Combine the liquid ingredients into a shaker glass with big ice cubes. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a teaspoon of vodka whipped cream sprinkled with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg. Serve with a small number of roasted pumpkin seeds to balance the experience.
In a highball glass, add grenadine, then ice, vodka, and coke in order to create a distinct red layer at the bottom of the glass.
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. For the Lapsang tea-infused Applejack, use five teaspoons of loose Lapsang Souchong tea to one 750ml bottle of Laird's. Using a fine-mesh cheesecloth or sachet saves the mess of fine straining the tea later. Let it sit for four hours and then remove the sachet.
Half rim a rocks glass with black sanding sugar. In a shaker, combine all ingredients and top with ice. Shake vigorously and double strain into a rocks glass with a jagged iceberg. Garnish by squeezing an orange peel through an open flame to caramelize the oil over the cocktail.
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