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Less-than-frightful spirits

Halloween drink recipes you shouldn’t fear



1775 Punch

Andrew Saliga

The scariest tales of spirits I’ve heard involve the creation of “spooky punches.” You know the kind. They lurk in the depths of Pinterest, lingering in the ether of large gatherings. It’s there they prey on unassuming victims using coy terms like spooky, haunted, devil, blood, etc. The kitschy names and vibrant colors lure victims. Their cognition clouds with every sip. However, the real terror doesn’t occur until the next morning.  

Fortunately, with a well-made punch or batched drink it’s possible to satisfy the thirst of guests without being responsible for their ghastly hangovers. Punches and batched drinks serve two primary purposes: to allow the host to focus on the party, and to facilitate social interaction among guests. The large self-serve bowl means the host can focus on other elements, and the communal aspect ensures a constant cycle of guests flows between social interactions and the punch bowl itself. 

Serving punches and batched drinks is the perfect way to set your Halloween party up for a win. With a little creativity, many punches or batched recipes can be given some seasonal flare, often by means of a garnish or a slight tweak of the recipe. Here are a few options to get you through the start of the holiday season. 


1775 Punch

Serves 9-12

Stories of spirits are draped in a rich history, much like 1775 Punch. This recipe was created at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, a location that founding fathers Franklin, Jefferson, and Washington all drank at when it was known as Peggy Mullan’s Red Hot Beefsteak Club. Tun’s is also where the U.S. Marines and Masons were founded. After a few glasses of this modern rendition of that classic recipe, you’re sure to find the inspiration to come up with a frightful tale or two. For some added pizzazz, add about 3 ounces of Green Chartreuse which goes surprisingly well with pineapple. 

  • 1 lime, thinly sliced
  • 17 oz gold rum 
  • 1 ¼ cups pineapple juice
  • 5 oz lime juice
  • 3 cups spiced black tea

Brew 3 cups of black tea.             
(12g loose leaf, 3-4 minutes at 210°F) Dissolve ¼ cup brown sugar in tea. Steep 1 thinly sliced piece of fresh ginger in tea for 20 minutes.

Instructions: Place lime slices in a bundt pan or plastic container and freeze. Combine rum, pineapple juice, lime, and tea and chill until cold. Transfer chilled punch to a bowl or pitcher and garnish with a block of ice.


Hot Buttered Rum

Serves 4-6

As the weather cools, there are few things as comforting as a warm drink like hot buttered rum. The spiced butter mixture can be made ahead of time and will keep for up to 3 weeks. 

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup dark rum (suggested:​ Cruzan Black Strap)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • Cinnamon sticks for garnish

Instructions: Combine brown sugar, butter, heavy cream, spices, and salt in a heatproof pitcher. Mix until well-blended. Add rum, vanilla, and boiling water. Serve and garnish with a cinnamon stick. 


Batched Manhattans

Serves 7

If you insist on serving cocktails to a group, most stirred cocktails can be batched. The classic Manhattan is the perfect candidate, and you can tailor the choice of bitters to fit the occasion—ginger or apple blossom bitters would work well for fall. These batched Manhattans can be served out of a pitcher and should be served all at once while cold rather than allowing them to warm. Be warned that this is a 26% ABV cocktail, not a punch, so those small cups are a must. 

  • 14 oz bonded rye (suggested: Rittenhouse)
  • 6 ¼ oz sweet vermouth (suggested: Dolin) 
  • ¼ oz bitters (suggested: Angostura Aromatic, Hella Bitters Ginger, or Hella Bitters Apple Blossom)
  • 10 ½ oz very cold water (chill with ice and strain)

Instructions: Combine the rye, sweet vermouth, and bitters in a 1-liter plastic bottle and squeeze out any excess air. Put in freezer for 2 hours. When ready to serve, combine the spirits with the ice water (do not include the ice) in a large pitcher. Serve entire pitcher to guests in small glasses. Garnish with an orange peel.

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