In our lifetimes, we have celebrated in traditional ways the major holidays. Christmas and Easter were defined by family and religion. Likely in our lives they still are. In New Orleans, Carnival and Mardi Gras were all about neighborhoods and maybe even social status. We could be the thrower on the float or the receiver on the street. Plenty of fun both ways. And the whole affair is uniquely ours
Halloween, however, has been something of an evolving situation. When we were very young, one or both of our parents put us into costume and out we went into the neighborhood to collect highly-sugared treats from older folks who seemed genuinely appreciative that we came to their house and begged for a reward. They acted frightened, or amazed, or inquisitive, "And what are you supposed to be?" It was not asked in an offensive way, but gave us an opportunity to share one of our dreams.
As we moved into the awkward teen years, free candy was no longer considered our "right," but this was a night for friends, parties, and close proximity to the opposite sex. For many of us, the memories of Halloweens past are more enchanting, by a longshot, than they probably were.
And as we grew older, we refused to turn loose of the celebration. Even when we had children of our own, we made certain the little darlings had their costume in order, then we walked with them around the neighborhood collecting sweet rewards for begging, but we don't then head for the lounger and a night of TV like our folks did.
We get the wee ones settled at home, entrusting them to a babysitter who knows full well she is taking on a brood of over-sugared, hyper-excited angels, while for us the real beginnings of the evening are just taking on form.
Our elaborate costumes, some seductive, some outrageous, many are both, grab an appropriate beverage and head for The Bash. And it is at this point that our shared arrested development evinces itself. We simply refuse to let go of the goodies, the crazy times, the friends and strangers alike, all coming together in pagan celebration. Ain't it grand? This Holiday was not about adults when we were growing up and now it's barely about the kids.
The adult beverage selections have also become more elaborate. Boring mixed drinks, such as gin and tonic or bourbon and 7, have morphed into theme punches, shots of distilled liquids that we would never consider any other day of the year, and deep blood-red wines, such as zinfandel, the labels of which suggest sinful living or human skeleton body parts. Creepy.
How about a couple of suggestions as to Halloween beverages? Okay, well, I’m going to give them to you anyway.
- Consider putting a rimming treat on your cocktail. Use some pumpkin spice, mixed with a bit of nutmeg and demerara sugar.
- Dry Ice is cool, Better yet, make that cold. Very cold, which makes for a dangerous situation. While the spooky, foggy effect is quite amazing, touching the ice for even just an instant can actually result in frostbite and losing bits of skin. Not festive.
- We say this next piece of “news” a lot and we always really mean it: do not have a couple of drinks and even think you can drive. Maybe you can, and maybe you can’t. But the reality is that in the law’s eyes, you are impaired for operating a motor vehicle. If you are tested by an officer of the law, it will be the beginning of a long, unhappy chapter in your life. Designated Drivers who are true to their mission, limousines, taxis, or the newest car service in town, Uber, are all important alternatives. Plan ahead. Last minute is not going to work. Even a hotel room is a better idea than taking a very big chance.
Now here are few recipes that can add to the fun of the evening:
Hennessy Cognac Jack-O-Lantern Cocktail – Photo Courtesy: Shannon Graham
1 ounce Hennessy VSOP Cognac
1 1/2 ounces orange juice
1/2 ounce ginger ale
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier orange liqueur
Orange wheel and lime twist for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
Float an orange wheel with a lime twist poked into the top.
Mojito Bayou Slime
Courtesy: Marvin Allen, Hotel Monteleone for Cruzan Rum
Bayou Slime Cocktail – Photo Courtesy: Shannon Graham
Muddle mint leaves and syrup together, making sure to crush the mint leaves.
Place all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Shake until well-chilled and frothy.
Garnish with additional crushed mint leaves.
Corpse Reviver #2
This classic drink is made in fine watering holes all over town.
Corpse Reviver #2 Cocktail – Photo Courtesy: Shannon Graham
1 ounce gin
1 ounce Lillet Blanc
1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
1 ounce orange liqueur, such as Cointreau
1 drop absinthe
Cherry for garnish
Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Garnish with a cherry.