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Halloween Wasted

October 25, 2013

Let’s work backwards. New Year’s Eve is on December 31. Christmas is December 25. Thanksgiving is November 28. Chanukah begins the evening of November 27. But the entire holiday season kicks off next week with Halloween on October 31.

That’s Thursday.

That’s the day when you go out and raise hell. That’s the day when people will give you candy so that you don’t toilet paper their house too badly. That’s the day you dress up in costume.

Halloween isn’t a holiday like Chanukah. It’s just the one day. Yet people want to stretch it out to include Friday and Saturday nights. Some might want to party on Sunday too. I’m sure there are folks who are going to get an early start and will have costume parties this weekend too.

But call them what they are, costume parties. Because Halloween comes just one night a year, and diverting attention from that makes the actual thing that much less special. Don’t even get me started on how trick-or-treating has devolved over the years into a daytime ritual that is just as likely to happen at malls or schools as it is your own neighborhood.

This also happens to be among the worst holidays for cocktails. Ever.

It’s not that I’m opposed to getting cutesy with cocktails. If you wanted to cut your cocktail cherries to look like hearts and get toothpicks that looked like daggers, you could have a Murder in Manhattan.

That’s cute, right? And it has the side benefit of not mucking around with a winning aromatic cocktail combination.

Too many drinks, though, try to replicate candy concoctions and end up being these sweet sticky things that are filled with cream and might even be rimmed with pop rocks. Or people get carried away with wanting something green, or black, or orange.

And don’t get me started on pumpkins. Whoever thinks making a cocktail that tastes like a winter squash is a good idea needs to step out from behind the bar and learn a little bit of restraint. But liquor companies share in the blame. After all, they have decided to market sullied versions of all their base spirits which now include almost any artificial flavor imaginable.

Booze that tastes like cotton candy is an underage drinker’s fantasy come true.

The terrible irony about all of this is that there are already a bunch of classic cocktails that are totally appropriate for the season. And I’m not even talking about joke drinks like the Zombie which stem from a bet about how much rum a bartender could fit in a glass.

Along the lines of the undead is a drink called The Corpse Reviver. There are actually a few variations of this drink, but the favored for modern tastes is the #2. Yes, there are more ingredients than I usually like in my cocktails, but everything goes into the cocktail shaker in one ounce jiggers.

It’s gin, Lillet blanc, Cointreau, lemon juice, and a dash of absinthe. That’s shaken, strained, and garnished with an orange peel. Good stuff.

Or if you prefer ghosts, there is also a classic cocktail called the Flying Dutchman.

That is three ounces of genever with a teaspoon of orange curacao and a dash of orange bitters. It is stirred over ice, and strained into a chilled glass.

Rusty nails can be pretty terrifying too. Especially if you find one in your foot on a deserted beach, far away from the things of man. Tetanus is no joke. And that horror story goes great on chilly nights by the fire with a simple yet warming combination of Scotch and Drambuie.

But I think you get the picture. And I’m probably preaching to the choir. Still, preach I must. Because the crimes that are going to be committed against cocktails over the next several days are legion.

What a wasted opportunity to share delicious drinks instead of ridiculous and nasty ones.

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