Celebrate Halloween Spirits

By Marilyn LaRocque | Photography by Britt Pearson

Ward off ghosts and goblins and celebrate All Hallows Eve with spirited cocktails conjured by Master Mixologist Andrew Pollard, Beverage Development Specialist for Wirtz Beverage Nevada. No tricks, just treats, as he summons comforting spirits and shares the secrets of his potions.

“There’s no mystery about cocktails,” he said. “There’s really a short laundry list from which others evolve. Every cocktail has some form of ‘DNA’, a defining character from which you develop something new. Once you understand the classics, you’ll know what to expect. After that, it’s evolution, innovation, and experimentation.

“Always contrast sweet and spice and create balance of strong, bitter, sour, and robust, spice flavors. It’s important that all ingredients are holding hands and intermingling with each other. All spirits within the same category are different. How many brands and products are there?” he asked rhetorically. “With gin, you also have to consider the botanicals, what flavors they add. You have to know how components work together.

“New brands, new flavors, infusions, and products are creating a new cult of the cocktail. Cognac is a hot cocktail trend now. Although it’s played a key role throughout time, it’s being rediscovered for mixed drinks. With depth and flavors of banana, caramel, and toffee, it’s great for mixing. SNAP is a new artisanal seasonal liqueur incorporating baking spices, ginger, molasses, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg…what we enjoy in wintertime. It’s 80 proof, so you can even add it to coffee.

“In the long run, by staying true to what works, to the backbone of classic drinks, you’ll have a foundation or launching pad. By reformulating the formulas, a basic drink can morph into something new and exciting. You can change an ingredient, add an ingredient to give a new twist, change the ratios in the formula, use seasonal ingredients, and create the name for your new cocktail.”

Pollard’s spirited Halloween cocktails:

Dead Man Walking

A variation of the classic rum Zombie, which dates back to 1930. Very strong and intense, with exotic flavors, it contains three ounces of liquor, some of which is 110 proof…it’s potent…don’t let the orange overtones fool you. Appleton Reserve Rum is one of most exotic rums. The original Zombie was a cheeky cocktail invented by Don the Beachcomber. The premise is if you make it through the drink…you can barely walk. It’s good as a punch because the ice dilutes it. Dry ice in a large punch bowl or individual oversized goblet makes it look like the ghosts are after you.

  • 1.5 oz. Appleton Reserve Rum
  • 1 oz. Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
  • 0.5 oz. Alize Gold Passionfruit Liqueur
  • 0.25 oz. Green Chartreuse
  • 1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 0.5 oz. Pineapple Juice
  • 1 oz. Orgeat Syrup
  • 3 – 4 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
  • Top Fresh Grated Nutmeg

Garnish: Pineapple Spear/Purple Orchid/Blood Orange Wheels

Glass: Goblet/Hurricane

Method: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, shake and strain over fresh ice. Top with freshly grated nutmeg and garnish.

The Goat Apple Fizz

Fairy tale lore would have us believe it was a “goat apple” that put Snow White to sleep. Some say it’s a real, poisonous apple. Fact or fiction, when you combine Death’s Door Gin and Apple Schnapps, you may very well be ready for a nap. The sparkling Asti Spumante assures bubbly dreams. It’s pretty, pink, and slides down very easily.

  • 1 oz. Death’s Door Gin
  • 1 oz. Berentzen Apfelkorn Apple Schnapps
  • 0.5 oz. Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 oz. Pomegranate Syrup* (aka Grenadine)
  • Dash Egg White
  • Top Sparkling Asti
  • Garnish: Rosemary Sprig/Brandied Cherry

Glass: Flute

Method: Combine all ingredients ( sans Asti ) in a mixing glass with ice, shake vigorously and strain over Asti. Garnish.

*Combine equal parts sugar to POM Wonderful and lightly simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate.

Dance with the Devil (L) Brain Damage (R)

Dance with the Devil in the Pale Moonlight

Inspired by The Joker, Devil’s Cut Bourbon is the fiendish spirit behind this drink. Lemon sour and muddled blackberries contribute a fruity accent and bright tartness. What ties it all together is freshly ground black pepper.

  • 1.5 oz. Jim Beam’s Devils Cut Bourbon
  • 0.5 oz. Fernet Branca
  • 1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 oz. Simple Syrup
  • 4 – 6 Fresh Blackberries

Garnish: Mint Sprig/Blackberry Skewer/Fresh Black Pepper

Glass: Lowball/Bucket

Method: Muddle blackberries with sugar and lemon in a mixing glass until emulsified. Add remaining ingredients with ice, shake vigorously and double strain over fresh ice. Garnish.

Brain Damage

One look at the Crystal Head Vodka skull-shaped bottle and matching mini drinking glasses will muddle your mind. From Canada, the vodka is made by Dan Akroyd’s company. It was a double gold medal winner in San Francisco’s spirits competition. Muddled raspberries and blood orange syrup make a funky, fun drink to enjoy while watching “Bones.”

  • 1.5 oz. Crystal Head Vodka
  • 0.5 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 oz. Monin Blood Orange Syrup
  • 2 – 3 Fresh Raspberries ( muddled )

Glass: Mini Crystal Head Skull

Method: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, shake and strain into a chilled Crystal Head shot glass.

Smashing Pumpkin (L) Xantalo Xocolat (R)

Smashing Pumpkin

Definitely not a Jack-‘O-Lantern, this hot coffee cocktail plays off Irish Coffee, cornerstone of the famed Buena Vista in San Francisco. Cognac, gingersnap liqueur, and handmade pumpkin spiced cream will warm you after a night of trick or treating

  • 1.5 oz. Courvoisier Exclusif VSOP Cognac
  • 1 oz. Snap Gingersnap Liqueur
  • 3 oz. Fresh Brewed Coffee
  • 0.5 oz. Monin Vanilla Syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters

Top: Hand Whipped Pumpkin Spice Cream*

Garnish: Freshly Grated Nutmeg

Glass: Irish Coffee

Method: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, shake and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish.

*To make cream, mix (1) half gallon of heavy whipping cream with (1) cup of powdered sugar. Whip to a silky, smooth texture and fold in 2 oz. of Hiram Walker Pumpkin Spice Liqueur. It is important not to over-whip the cream as it will thicken too much and won’t properly form a layer.

Xantalo Xocolat

Day of the Dead Chocolate will make chocoholics out of anyone, south or north of the Border. Spicy blue agave Cocoa Tequila and chocolate-chili liqueur infused with fresh-cut Jalepeño lurk under half and half and whipped cocoa cream laced with Crème de Cacao.

  • 1.5 oz. Tanteo Cocoa Tequila
    0.5 oz. Crave Chocolate Chili Liqueur
  • 2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
  • 0.5 oz. Chocolate Syrup ( Monin/Hershey’s )
  • 1 oz. Half & Half

Top: Hand – Whipped Cocoa Cream*

Garnish: Bruleed Coco/Cinnamon Sugar

Glass: Cocktail

Method: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, shake and strain into a chilled glass. Garnish.

*To make cream, mix (1) half gallon of heavy whipping cream with (1) cup of powdered sugar. Whip to a silky, smooth texture and fold in 2 oz. of Hiram Walker White Crème de Cacao.

Food, wine, and travel writer/editor Marilyn LaRocque has visited the seven continents, experiencing not only sights and sounds but also foods and wines. In Paris in May, she was named Vice Chargée de Presse Nationale, Des Etats Unis, of Les Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the world’s oldest and largest food and wine society. She was Senior Food & Wine Editor for LUXURY Las Vegas magazine for nearly 10 years and immersed herself in the cuisine scene in this over-the-top city. She knows and has written about celebrity chefs, their restaurants, and food and reported dining trends not only in Las Vegas but throughout the world, from South Africa to Scandinavia, New Zealand to South America. She knows master sommeliers and mixologists and has written extensively about wines and spirits, particularly California, as well as Oregon, Virginia, and Kentucky (Bourbon) and Tennessee (Whiskey). She has dined at globally celebrated restaurants such as Taillevent (Paris), Noma (Copenhagen), Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (London), Per Se (New York), and French Laundry (Yountville). She has served as a judge in culinary competitions, been guest lecturer at Le Cordon Bleu, Las Vegas, and served as PR consultant for the 2012 UNLVino, Nevada’s oldest and largest wine event. Photo by Jim K. Dekker