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6:00am Saturday 26th October 2013 in Lifestyle
Fancy a drink? Our drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris suggests some spooky spirits to fire up your imagination ahead of Halloween and Bonfire Night.
By Sam Wylie-Harris
The dark side
It doesn't matter if you prefer to get spirited away on Halloween and parade around in spooky costumes, or to torch the sky with fireworks and rockets on Guy Fawkes night, both evenings lend themselves to a measure of trickery and intrigue.
So to ease yourself into the witching hour and help you start plotting that next party, why not try these following recipes.
:: Hendrick's tea time jam & tonic
Hendrick's have released their limited edition Hendrick's Gin Midnight Tea Party Pack (£27.09, 70cl with tea cup, Sainsbury's), the perfect pick-me-up for grown-ups who've braved dozens of haunted house calls to keep the littl'uns happy. A bloody pour that complements the cucumber and rose petal infusions in Hendrick's, here's the refreshing recipe to try at home.
40ml Hendrick's Gin, 1 teaspoon strawberry jam, 2cm diced cucumber, tonic water
Add ingredients to teacup without tonic. Stir until jam is dissolved, then infuse for a few moments before adding ice and topping with tonic.
:: Trigger happy
Rigg's Shrub (£19.99, 70cl, www.thedrinkshop.com) is a fruit infused premium grain spirit from Eager Drinks that's macerated with the juices of raspberries and blackberries to evoke apple and hedgerow fruits and a bumper Autumn harvest.
Rigg's signature mixer is ginger ale, but for fright night tipples, a medium-dry vintage cider such as Morrisons new Signature Vintage Cider (£1.89 or 3 for £5, 50cl, 7.3% abv, Morrison) adds depth and complexity to this tasty infusion.
The tall black bottle is dressed with a monocle and moustache to fit in with the fancy dress theme - and it also neatly fits in with Movember charity month (running through Novemeber).
Either way, here's an easy peasy recipe which takes its name from the glass, a trigger tankard.
30ml Rigg's, 20ml lemon juice, 170ml vintage cider (or half-and-half with apple juice)
Half-fill a 14oz tankard with ice. Add the Rigg's, lemon juice and top with cider. Garnish with three apple slices.
:: Obsidian green
Devilishly divine, the melon based liqueur Midori (£11, 50cl, Asda) is enjoying a revival, partly due to its versatility in cocktails. Japanese for 'green', Midori combines the sweet, fragrant taste of melons with seeded melons and this Japanese big-hitter can really be appreciated in flaming concoctions fired by Pisco, a South American grape brandy.
Sounds interesting? Here's the explosive recipe to cause a stir.
40ml Midori, 20ml Pisco, 5ml lemon juice, 1 dash chocolate bitters, cinnamon stick, 8 cloves, cardamom, star anise, a large hollowed orange
Prepare an orange by slicing top quarter off, hollowing out, cutting a 'teeth' pattern into the top and studding it with cloves. Heat Pisco in the microwave until boiling and pour into the cavity. Ignite and sprinkle cinnamon over flamed orange and when the flames die down, add Midori and remaining ingredients and top with crushed ice. Garnish with cardamom and star anise.
:: Smashing pumpkin
Halloween wouldn't be complete without a pumpkin cocktail and this medium-sweet seasonal serve can be made using the leftovers of a carved Jack O'Lantern. Bulldog London Dry Gin (£21, 70cl, Sainsbury's) with its 12 botanicals, such as dragon eye, white poppy and lotus leaf, give a silky sweet, aromatic palate with good evidence juniper.
60ml Bulldog Gin, 90ml pumpkin puree, 15ml simple syrup, dash of vanilla extract
Add the ingredients into a cauldron (aka saucepan), and stir slowly, repeating the words "Hubble bubble, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble." Pour into a jar and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
:: Mon Petit Salut
A ghoulish looking bottle that may take unsuspecting drinkers by surprise, La Fee Absinthe Parisienne (£43.50, 68% abv, 70cl, www.thedrinkfinder.com) is a new but traditional French absinthe that uses only natural ingredients, and tastes more amenable than some.
Still potent but pleasant, to re-enact the louche ritual which dates back to the 1800's, the anise-flavours can be enjoyed by slowly adding 4-6 parts iced water through a sugar cube placed on a perforated spoon which rests on the top of the glass.
Alternatively, creative mixologists can try impressing their friends with this dangerously good cocktail which enhances the herbal character.
40ml La Fee Absinthe Parisienne, 20ml fresh lemon juice, 20ml vanilla syrup, 15ml Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, 4 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the ingredients and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled coupette and add a twist of fresh lemon zest to finish.
Creepy crawlies don't usually help sell wine labels, but the black beetle of Domaine des Escaravailles La Ponce 2011 Rasteau, Rhone, France (£15.99, Waitrose) is perfectly tuned to nocturnal naughtiness. Grenache dominant and made from gnarled old vines, this dark ruby red is the perfect excuse to close the curtains tight and ignore the trick-or-treaters, and the velvety smooth, plush fruit goes beautifully with bangers, mash and lashings of gravy.
Alternatively, a fragrant viognier will deter any mythical monsters and put them off the scent. Try Morrisons Signature Viognier 2012, France (£6.99, Morrisons) which is perfectly tailored to pumpkin parties with its orange label and ripe, fresh, juicy peach flavours and crisp finish to pair with bite-sized fish 'n' chips, dips and roast chicken thighs.
:: Best buy
A real chestnut... Lancaster Brewery have launched Mr Trotter's Great British Chestnut Ale (£2.45, 4% abv, 50cl, Booths and Selfridges nationwide, or visit www.mrtrotter.co.uk) which should be served lightly chilled and is the best match with, you've guessed it, Mr Trotter's Original Pork Crackling.
A blend of roasted sweet chestnuts with malted Maris Otter barley, this dark brew promises chestnut flavours with a nutted creaminess, honey notes and a hint of spice on the subtle, hoppy finish - and it certainly delivers.
:: Liquid news
Artesian wears the crown... The Artesian Bar at The Langham, London has been voted World's Number One Bar Best for the second year running.
Lucy Britner, editor of World's 50 Best Bars list says: "This is fantastic for Artesian. The team could have just sat back and enjoyed being World's Best Bar 2012, but they didn't.
"They upped their game and introduced a whole range of original and outlandish drinks and shows that you can operate in a five-star environment without the trappings of tradition often associated with five-star outlets. Goats, pandas and slushy machines all make an appearance at this bar."
According to the judges, the standard of service, originality and creativity of the drinks and the atmosphere created by Alex Kratena and his team is what won the votes.
Kratena says: "We are honoured, humbled & privileged to take the first spot and all of the responsibilities which come with it.
"The World's 50 Best Bars is an ultimate guide for bars around the world and there has never been a better time for the bar industry - we are living a second golden age of cocktail."
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