Once upon a time Halloween was just for children, in the UK definitely. Despite originating in Scotland, it‘s our American cousins who decided that All Hallows Eve should be a fun adult night too. For fear gives a frisson to a party, morphing spooky into sexy. Lindsay Lohan’s Cady Heron in Mean Girls got it: “Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut, and no other girls can say anything about it.” These days, with our enlightened approach to gender bending, everyone can be a slut. After all, after dark it’s a night for grown-ups and ghouls.
Need a scary or sexy bottle to take to the party? Then new world wine makers are best. Their wines and their marketing bollocks are designed to catch your eye and attract the tastebuds. And hopefully those of your innamorati too. Boneshaker, a Zinfandel blend from Lodi, California makes an aptly named addition to any Halloween party. Named for ‘boneshaking’ bicycles, this guzzler sure helps the saddle sore. Most red Zinfandel wines are notorious for high %ABV levels, so it’ll keep you warm. It’s pricey on Bezos’ Beast (AMZN) at almost 40 quid a pop, so perhaps an Apothic Dark Red instead at roughly a tenner would be better.
A chilling offering from that grape so beloved across the pond is Poizin by Armida Wines. Coughed up in a small wooden coffin it’s parroted as “the wine to die for”; it’s on point then for your eerie festive needs. Practically impossible to buy in the UK and at $100 a bottle, your hosts would have to be in their own coffins not to appreciate this.
Marketing nonsense aside, of the many many haunted wineries and chateaux, Chateau de Brissac in the Loire Valley is a corker. Back in the 15th century, Jacques de Brese lived there with his wife Charlotte de Valois, the illegitimate daughter of Charles VII of France. Finding her naked in bed with her huntsman lover, he slaughtered them both with over 100 slashes of his sword. Charlotte wanders the chateau in a green dress trying to remove the blade from her chest, her face that of a corpse with gaping holes where eyes and a nose should be. Imagine the mess when she got a cold! Curiously enough, she appears only to men; happily the best ghosts rather appreciate a heightened sense of the poetic.
We’ve got some lovely, red wines to go with this gruesome tale from Anjou Villages Brissac. If you’ve a care to hold onto summer by holding off of the red, Chateau L’Arnaude Cuvee Nuit Blanche is a lovely full-bodied Provencal rosé with three spectral sirens in 1920s swimsuits on the label. For satanists or brave saints, Chilean estate Concha Y Toro offers the well known Casillero del Diablo or “the devil’s cellar” – a guaranteed crowd pleaser of a Merlot because after all, being bad feels not half bad. While we’re down South, The Goatfather – Goats Do Roam is a smoky, red blend from South Africa, also sporting a scary label. Like to hide behind your costume or are a bastard in disguise? then we’ve got The Original Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon. Or if a simple beer will suffice, why not gobble down some Hobgoblin from Wychwood Brewery.
If, like Ava Gardner, spirits are your thing we’ve many a distillery with both kinds of spirit. At the Isle of Jura distillery is a bottle of whisky buried to appease the ghost of an old lady. She once showed up furious when whisky production was banned; perhaps she foresaw Isle of Jura Prophecy Malt Whisky was on its way and (being Scottish) wailed at them giving it away for a pittance! We always have it at the best price, natch. Glenrothes distillery, Speyside has a traditional “toast to the ghost” to celebrate the memory of Byeway, one of two boys rescued from the Matabeleland famine. He died in just 1972 and reappeared as a ghost soon after to complain about a new still which disturbed a ley line of all things! Perhaps he just pined for a dram o’ Glenrothes Vintage Reserve, which at the price we sell it does as much to soothe the souls of the living as it does the dead.
Singer/songwriter and fine artist Jamie Seerman claims the Martini’s the sexiest cocktail a woman can drink. Quizzed, she sighed, “Oh, that stem! Oh, that olive!” Quite how many olives to take is loaded with Italian superstition. Only odd numbers are good apparently, because evens are bad, bad luck. One olive is the classic choice, but true romantics take three. One each for peace, love and harmony, as long as you stick to just three Martinis. Want to brush up your bar skills? Then experience tableside martini preparation at London’s Dukes Hotel. Salvatore Calabrese, the manager in the 1980’s, invented the “direct method’ which uses pre-frozen gin or vodka. No need for ice, just a cold glass rinsed with dry Vermouth (always Noilly Prat), then lots of Plymouth Gin topped with Amalfi Coast lemon peel. Sexy enough? Just ask James Bond or Homer Simpson! Scary? Only at Dukes, where with a single Martini contains five shots of booze so for decorum, they restrict each customer to just two. After all, dulce et decorum est duo martinis bibere.
Don’t fancy a splitter of a hangover? Or don’t want to find yourself waking up in a wet puddle or in bed next to one? Then try an alcohol free Merlot like the fruity, young Silhouet or treat your gut bacteria to a mixed case of hipster-attracting Kombucha. You can mix up your own drink like a grape juice ginger ale spritzer. Fill a glass ⅔ full of crushed ice (a martini glass for sure because they have that stem, don’t forget). Then in a jug mix ⅓ grape juice and ⅔ ginger ale and pour it into the ice filled glasses. Use red grapes instead of crushed ice for added gore factor.
Or there are your no/low beers with fitting names like Ghostship and Weird Weather Beer. Or Big Easy which could go some way to rehabilitating a chilling sexual reputation. But if you’ve never seen a ghost and are a level headed kind of person, then Beck’s Blue should do it.
If you hate Halloween because it’s an over-commercialised, money-making fraud imported from The States, then why not get out of your gourd with cans of Beavertown Stingy Jack? It’s a pumpkin beer with 7.2 ABV, basically the Special Brew of weird beers. Whatever you do, don’t forget it’s all just a bit of fun. So if things go bump in the night for you, let’s hope it’s uglies and not ghosties.