It’s that time of year again. The leaves have fallen off the trees. The first snowfall of the season is just around the corner, and just a few short days ago, our doorstops were lit by smiling pumpkins, guiding all the little ghouls and goblins as they made their rounds for candy that seems to get more cavity-inducing each year.
Yes, another Halloween has come and gone. Before we get down to the proper question of what type of booze is appropriate for Halloween, let’s take a moment to consider this special day’s humble beginnings.
Ireland, land of Guinness, leprechauns, and fightin’ Irishmen, is also widely considered to be the birthplace of what we now call Halloween. Back in the day of the ancient Celts, there was a festival called Samhain that was the biggest and most important holiday of the year. The Celtic calendar set the beginning of year at November 1, signifying the end of the summer harvest, and beginning of winter.
In addition to this day marking the end of the year, it was also the day that the souls of all the people who had died that year journeyed to the Celtic otherworld. It was on this day that all manner of faerie, spirit, and spook was about, so the villagers would light bonfires to guide the dead to the next world.
Everyone concerned was pretty happy with the status quo, until those pesky Catholic missionaries started showing up to convert the pagans. The Catholic church declared the pagan holidays to be evil, and tried to replace Samhain with All Saints Day in the 7th century. They tried it on May 13 for a while, then moved it to February 21, but it wasn’t until that clever Pope Gregory struck upon the brilliant idea in the year 853 of setting Christian holy days to coincide with the existing pagan festivals. With that, All Saints Day was moved to November 1. A few hundred years later, the church added All Soul’s Day on November 2, another day to honor the dead.
Large-scale emigration of the Irish (descendents of the Celts) happened during the Irish potato famine in the 1840’s , bringing the Halloween traditions to North America. Today, Halloween is celebrated several countries around the world, but it’s by no means worldwide – France didn’t start celebrating Halloween until 1996.
But enough of the boring history lesson – let’s talk about the type of booze that goes best on this special day!
If you’ve got a little ghoul or goblin around the house, here a few of my favorite kid-friendly Halloween recipes:
Bloody Bug Juice: Thaw a bag of frozen mixed berries, and add a can of frozen concentrated lemonade. Run through the blender for 30 seconds, then add one litre of ginger ale, and a cup of raisins. Pour into tall glasses and let the “bugs” float to the top.
Witch’s Blood: Get a large saucepan, add 4 cups apple/cranberry cocktail, 2 cups orange juice, a teaspoon of whole cloves, 1 stick of cinnamon, and a teaspoon of sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 15 minutes. Serve while still warm.
While the kid-friendly drinks can be cute, I decided to host a grown-up ghoulish party this year, so I served drinks with a bit more kick to them.
Angry Pumpkin: Blend 12 ounces of pumpkin pie filling with 4 ounces of gin.
Werewolf: Equal parts Drambuie and Bourbon poured over ice. Kind of like a redneck rusty nail.
Brain Hemorrhage: Add 1ounce of Peach Schnapps into a tumbler, then slowly pour in a teaspoon of Bailey’s Irish Cream. Be careful – you want them layered instead of completely mixed. Add two drops of grenadine for that creepy oozing effect.
Creepy Crawly Jello Shots: This one is my new Halloween favorite! Add jello powder to 3 cups of boiling water, then stir for a few minutes. Stir in 2 cups of vodka. Pour it all into several clear plastic shot glasses from the dollar store, then add a gummi worm to each glass before it firms up. Creepily delicious!
Keep these in mind for next year, but remember not to fly your broom home if you’ve been indulging! And don’t forget to raid the kids’ candy stash after they go to bed!