Ellen Clifford: Halloween Spirits

Halloween! The perfect time to ward off the spirits that haunt with the spirits that intoxicate. I dove into the classic cocktails that sound just a bit spooky. They are potent brews, so sip cautiously. There’s a bewitching apple treat to eat in there too. And if you do spy an actual ghost, see if they are interested in a glass of something. Spirits like spirits too. This is actually a sneak peak at a goth cocktail book I’m working on (publishers, let’s talk). I hope you will put on some black attire in honor of the outing. Also, if I do not cite a source, it is a classic that was virtually the same everywhere I found it! If you truly cannot get into the Halloween SPIRIT (forgive me but puns are everything), then I’ll kick things off with a wine fit for the occasion: San Pedro Gato Negro Cabernet Sauvignon 2017. The price point puts it solidly in partytime time. It is not for connoisseurs, it’s for partiers. But the quality is pleasing too! Blackberry depth and black cats—says Halloween to me! Death in the Afternoon: You don’t even have to be in the pm to feel the gloom. Afternoon has its own libation: absinthe. After being banned for some time, people figured out that this wormwood-laced beverage did not actually induce madness, so long as you didn’t get too drunk on it. I’d still make it in the evening, just to be safe. Who goes out in daylight anyway? Ingredients (Makes 1) • Ask how much, on a scale of 1-5, the drinker likes black licorice jelly beans. 1 = wave an absinthe bottle near the drink. 5 = use 3/4 ounce absinthe. • Use sparkling wine to fill the glass. If the amount of absinthe is catered to a level 1 drinker use something higher quality—not Champagne proper—save that money for petticoats. But get at least a nice Cava. If you are mixing for a level 5 drinker, then you can probably get away with anything but at least use…well a Cava would again be good. Pour Absinthe into a champagne flute or white wine glass. Twirl glass to coat the sides. Pour in bubbly. Whoever drinks must stare into the mirror in darkness for at least one minute then start sipping. Careful. Corpse Reviver #2: Granted this is something in the category of hangover helpers and the “corpse” is in theory, you. But I like it better un-hungover. It’s a classic. Ingredients • ¾ oz. gin (Beefeater London Dry is my go-to mixing gin) • ¾ oz. Cointreau (We could negotiate if you want to use another orange liqueur, but Cointreau is best in my opinion) • ¾ oz. dry vermouth (The classic is Lillet Blanc, but I never have that) • ¾ oz. freshly squeezed lemon • dash of absinthe Rinse a chilled glass (I prefer a coupe, but a rocks glass will work too) with absinthe. Shake the gin, Cointreau, dry vermouth and lemon with ice and strain into glass. Re-animate. Blood and Sand: “Blood” says Halloween and “Sand”? Well in truth this cocktail was named for a Valentino bullfighting movie that came out in 1922. But maybe it would accompany a flapper costume! It’s an equal parts drink, which makes it easy to remember. Ingredients • ¾ oz. Scotch (go for something affordable—though I used my Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or because Halloween only comes once a year) • ¾ oz. sweet vermouth • ¾ oz. Cherry Heering • ¾ oz. orange juice Shake them all up with ice and strain into a chilled coupe! Midnight Stinger adapted from “Nightcap” by Kara Newman: A classic stinger is made of Cognac and Crème de Menthe, but according to Kara Newman, New York City’s Sam Ross created this mash-up of a stinger and whiskey sour. Perfect for the witching hour. Check out Newman’s book for more nightcap fun! The woman knows what’s up. Ingredients • 1 oz. bourbon • 1 oz. Fernet Branca • ¾ oz. lemon juice • ¾ oz. Demerara sugar simple syrup (for my rendition) or regular simple syrup • fresh mint Shake all ingredients with ice and strain. I strained my into a cocktail glass because I love a cocktail served up, but the original recipe calls for straining into a rocks glass. Lady MacDeath: I happened upon the Lady MacBeth, a port and sparkling treat in Mittie Hellmich’s “The Ultimate Bar Book”. I took Lady M one step darker by adding blood orange juice and the bitter orange liqueur Campari. “Out, out damn spot!” may be something you’ll be crying if you spill it, so I recommend wearing black while imbibing. But you probably were already. Ingredients • 1 ½ oz. (45 ml) ruby port • 1 oz. (30 ml) Campari • ½ oz. (15 ml) blood orange juice • sparkling wine (Freixenet Cava that comes in the black bottle is my preference) Stir the port, Campari and blood orange juice and strain into a flute. Top with the sparkling wine. Bloodbath Apples (adapted from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”: Don’t bob for apples. Smother them with cheese and wine. It’s a much better application for the fruit. Ingredients • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted • 6 medium red or green apples (I used Gala) • ¼ cup water • 6 oz. grated cheddar cheese, grated • 1 cup port wine or red wine • 1 tsp. dried thyme (but if you have fresh use it! Up amount to 1 Tbsp.) • salt and freshly ground black pepper Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9X13 inch or similar gratin dish with 1 Tbsp. of the melted butter. Cut the apples in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and core so there is a little bowl in each half. Put the apples in the prepared dish cut side down. Drizzle with remaining butter and pour the water over. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until they start to get tender. Turn apples over but don’t burn yourself! I use a big fork to do this. Pour the port or red wine over them. Use a spoon to baste them, then sprinkle the cheese into the little bowls in each apples, dividing equally. Sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper. Continue to bake until the cheese is bubbly. The cookbook says 20 minutes, but my apples were way too mushy by then, so keep checking on them and remove when the cheese melty-ness and apple density is to your liking. Don’t eat immediately or you’ll burn your tongue. I like these both warm and cold! Leftover wine in the pan can be boiled to make a sauce if you like, though I usually find the apples well-enough infused with wine.

San Pedro

Gato Negro Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Party wine. Excellent. Seriously I’d take this to any party both to slurp and share. It’s good. It’s...party wine. Complex not especially but tasted along side some other grocery store level wines this levels the fuck up. Also fuck yeah black cats. I apologize being a cat person and in particular a black cat person I’m maybe predisposed to this but if you want a wine under ten dollars that doesn’t reek of bullshit this is it. It’s very nice and simple and blackberries but not...obnoxious wanna call out other grocery store cabs but won’t. I like this gato. Simple but friendly purr. Am I giving a wine that costs about 6 bucks an 8.9? I am. Meow — 2 months ago

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Trixie

Trixie

Good for you giving an unbiased review! 👏It's a decent wine. Chile has some great wines. 🍷
Ellen Clifford

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@Trixie thanks! I do need to keep trying more from Chile!

Venge Vineyards

Bone Ash Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Super fruit forward but there is a hit of salinity that makes this sail. I also just love how sexy the bottles are. A solid and balanced brew. Never had a bad Venge. That being said I’ve only ever had two but both made me want more. — 2 months ago

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Ellen Clifford

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@Matt Perlman Nice! Let me know how it is!
Paul Treadway Huntington Beacher Bum

Paul Treadway Huntington Beacher Bum

Surprised you like Venge, thought it would be to fruit forward for you,
Ellen Clifford

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@Paul Treadway Huntington Beacher Bum I liked it a lot! Fruity, yet, but not in an overwhelming way

Sandeman

Ruby Porto

Oh hey very good in my baked apple recipe. And a couple other cocktail recipes this shall be in. Dependable ripe yum and balanced if not cocktail-inspirational (hallo Manhattan Sours) port. Use at at will — 2 months ago

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Ellen Clifford

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@Trixie it was good! From a How to Cook Everything Mark Bittman cookbook
Trixie

Trixie

Thanks for the cookbook title. I greatly enjoy trying new recipes.
Ellen Clifford

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@Trixie sure thing! Realized it’s actually the How to Cook Everything Vegetarian version—not sure if it’s in the regular version😊

Campari

Milano Bitters

Doesn’t quite pass as amaro but it’s my true love. Possibly a desert island thing. Orange. Bitter as all get out. Syrupy which works because the bitter. This is the friend who is a jerk but somehow their jerkiness plays off their good-human-magnitude and you love them even more. I’d marry Campari. — 4 months ago

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Glenmorangie

12 Years The Nectar d'Or Extra Matured Sauternes Casks Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Oh hey! Leave it to @Paul Treadway Huntington Beacher Bum to get me into a Scotch. This is delectable. My usual quibble with scotch is the smoke and this one has a whisper of it but it only serves to ballast the vanilla, honey and...marmalade? Of the rest of this. Tried neat and on a big cube o’ ice in a chilled glass and definitely recommend the latter. It is an evenings worth of delicate sipping. A ballerina. A delicate scotch. I’m a fan. I eat my anti-scotch words this one is for me. — 3 months ago

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Matt Perlman

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This pic needs to be memed...”I love Scotch. Scotchy scotch scotch” etc
Ellen Clifford

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@Matt Perlman hehehehe finally a use for the 🥃 emoji!

Fratelli Branca Distillerie

Fernet-Branca Liqueur

Another “is it amaro?” But I care not because I really like it. Stupid bitter. Ever so much mint and maybe licorice but mostly just bitterness that makes you wanna keel over but in the best way. This bitter is a happy field trip. — 4 months ago

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