Until a few years ago, Halloween in Britain meant little more than some scary films on TV and the occasional child turning up on your doorstep demanding sweets (with menaces). But, inspired by the Halloween portrayed in American TV shows and movies, the holy day has become a major party night for adults as well as children – and a bloody good opportunity for the bar and club trade.
This year, Halloween falls on a Sunday, so many venues across the UK are turning it into a weekend of themed fancy-dress parties and club nights. And then there are the drinks. All sorts of ghoulish recipes have been sent into Bar magazine by bars and drinks companies.
McQueen in Shoreditch, east London, has come up with Death by Disaronno, made with 35ml of Amaretto Disaronno, 15ml of cherry wine, 10ml of griottine juice, 12.5ml of lime juice, 12.5ml of lemon juice, 5ml of gomme and two dashes of cherry bitters. As the picture above shows, it is garnished with cobwebs and spiders.
For ready-to-drink brand VK, Halloween starts on Friday, which sees the launch of its VK Vampire Vkend promotion, running until October 31. Bars, pubs and clubs operated by Luminar, Orchid Group and Marston’s are among those taking part, with point-of-sale kits featuring decorations such as balloons and bat bunting as well as capes and bat wings for bar staff to wear. Consumers will also be able to claim bat masks and fake tattoos by buying themed cocktails. Halloween serves created for bars include the VK Vampire Kiss Cauldron, made with two bottles of VK Cherry, 50ml of Corky’s Cherry, 100ml of amaretto and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Global Brands, which owns VK, has also come up with a Halloween shot for its other brand, Corky’s: the Corky’s Eyeball Shot is half a shot of Corky’s Cola Cube and then Corky’s White Chocolate added to make it curdle and look like a bloody eyeball.
Matthew Roberts of Lost Society in Battersea, south-west London, was enlisted by US TV channel HBO to come up with some Halloween cocktails to promote its vampire TV series True Blood in the UK. He has used a carbonated blood orange juice drink created for HBO, called Tru Blood Beverage, modelled on the bottles of blood in the fictional TV world. It is available via its website, www.store.hbouk.com, at nearly £4 a bottle so more for playing around with at home rather than using at a bar but it’s still interesting to see what Matthew has come up with. His recipes include the Glamour-tini (pictured) – named after the vampires’ hypnotic powers – which is made with 30ml of the excellent Sipsmith London Dry Gin, 20ml of Aperol, 15ml of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 5ml of egg white, a splash of Fee Brothers orange bitters and 30ml of the Tru Blood Beverage – you could always try using blood orange juice instead although it would lack the fizz.
True Blood also oozes into the Halloween theme at the three London bars operated by Beronmore – the Betsy Smith in Kilburn, the Winchester in Islington and the Lodge Tavern in Ealing. For them, Halloween is on Saturday and Sunday when the venues will be transformed into what the owners describe as a “Fangtasia of blood, gore and teeth”. The so-called “True Blood cocktails” include the Absolut Blood, which is made with Absolut Blue, raspberry liqueur, raspberry puree and fresh chilli in a Martini glass with a raspberry garnish. Inspired by the shape-shifting bar owner Sam in the TV series, they have created the Shapeshifter, mixing Evan Williams Honey Reserve, passion fruit and kiwi with a dash of lime and passion fruit syrup. And the Fangbangers Delight combines fresh strawberries and lime wedges, shaken with a dash of ginger and lemongrass syrup plus Tuaca and ginger beer, served in a sling glass – plus the unusual garnish of Fang teeth sweets.