It’s a slippery slope, Halloween. One could get lost in the fog of theme – the costumes, the drinks, the spooky treats, all of them begging for excess and the over-the-top treatment.
For those who doubt this, I give you Chrissy Benoit’s Zombie Eyes.
“You take a lychee nut, stuff a maraschino cherry in the opening, and then a chocolate chip in the cherry,” says the owner of Boynton Beach’s Little House pub.
Stab those orbs with a spike and use them to garnish your cocktail, she offers.
Zombie Eyes. (They’re watching you – you, in the Ylvis “The Fox” costume.)
There’s nothing you can’t stab or make more ghoulish on Halloween, and the beauty of the day is that you can’t possibly do too much. Overkill is just fine on Halloween, as is tacky.
Benoit, who is hosting a big, pre-Halloween party tonight, has turned her pub into a haunted Little House for the occasion. She’s also shared with us a menu of spooky bites and cocktails that are easy enough to make at home (she’ll be serving some of these at her party).
Wicked Elderberry Potion
“When elderberries are cultivated, they are poisonous. Once cooked, they are medicinal,” Benoit notes.
Which make them the perfect Halloween ingredient. She makes a “potion” using elderberry cider from the Original Sin Brewery. She adds a shot of apple brandy and a lemon twist for a tart, sinful sip.
“Will it poison you or heal you?” she asks.
Why, you ask, would anyone choose sangria as a Halloween drink? The word itself is steeped in meaning. Sangria comes from “sangre real,” or royal blood.
“This is a fun take on sangria,” says Benoit. “With gummy worm ice cubes for garnish.”
The wine cocktail is made with red wine, brandy, strawberries, blueberry and, she adds, “evil red apples.”
To make the gummy worm ice cubes, you’ll need ice cube trays, gummy worms and a bottle of Sprite. Stuff sour gummy worms into the ice tray molds and fill with Sprite. Freeze.
To make the Graveyard Sangria:
(Makes 16 12-ounce glasses)
1 unpeeled apple, sliced, with core discarded
1 pound strawberries
1 pound blueberries
4 ounces brandy
3 liters red Burgundy-style wine
In a large pitcher, stir together fruit, brandy and wine. Let it sit at room temperature for 8 hours, when it will be ready to drink.
Or you can make the sangria ahead of time and chill in the fridge for two to three days.
When pouring the sangria, use 6 ounces of ice and 6 ounces of sangria to allow the cocktail to dilute a bit.
Top the sangria with a couple of worm-filled ice cubes.
When it comes to Halloween cocktails, garnish can be everything.
“The garnish is the fun part,” says Benoit.
Stuff lychee fruit with maraschino cherries, then poke chocolate chips into the cherries to make them look like eyes.
Use a couple of these Zombie Eyes to garnish a cocktail of vodka, lychee syrup and watermelon pulp, all to taste. Shake the cocktail well with ice and serve it with two spiked “eyes.”
Dredging the River
This smoldering cocktail calls for horchata (see note below), Patron XO coffee-flavored tequila and chocolate liqueur.
You add the ingredients to taste, plus ice, to a cocktail shaker. Shake well.
Drop two small cubes of dry ice into the bottom of a cocktail glass and pour mixture into glass, atop ice. Sprinkle the milky, smoking cocktail with ground cinnamon.
“It looks like muddy water with dirt on it and mist pouring off of the top,” says Benoit.
Note: to make easy horchata, blend 1 cup of uncooked rice until just broken. Add rice to 5 cups of water and set aside on the counter for 3 hours. Strain the water into a pitcher and discard rice. Stir in ½ cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 2/3 cup sugar. Chill mixture and stir before using.
To make these Mummy Empanadas, use the round, frozen empanada shells and your choice of fillings.
Cut strips of dough and press strips across the top of the empanadas to resemble mummy wrappings.
Use green, pimento-stuffed olives as eyes that peek through the mummy wrappings.
These are easy and cheesy: Slice hotdogs into thin strips. Place them on a bun that’s spread with spicy mustard.
The result: a bun that’s crawling with earth worms.
Halloween at Little House
Chrissy Benoit’s Little House is hosting a costume bash tonight at the pub, with drinks, bites and live music.
When: Party starts at 5 p.m.
Where: Little House, 480 E. Ocean Ave., Boynton Beach; 561-420-0573
Admission: $10 (one free drink)
Charity: Proceeds go to providing Thanksgiving dinners to less fortunate families.
Cantina Laredo: All day Halloween, the modern Mexican cantina is serving a $5 Ghost Flower Margarita made with 1800 Silver Tequila, house-made hibiscus syrup and Cointreau orange liqueur. Floating atop it: a ghostly flower.
Cantina Laredo: 4635 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561-622-1223; CantinaLaredo.com
Bad Ragaz Hall: The biergarten is pouring 5-buck draft beers, 3-buck pumpkin beers and 2-for-1 cocktails all night on Halloween. The specials start at 5 p.m. and go on to closing time. Costumes are welcome, as are those who want to celebrate without “all the Halloween fluff.”
Bad Ragaz Hall: 1417 S. Federal Highway, Boynton Beach; 561- 336-3297; BadRagazBiergarten.com
Chipotle: It’s called “Boorito.” Dress in costume, get a burrito, bowl, salad or tacos for just $3 from 4 p.m. to closing time. It’s a standing tradition at Chipotle Mexican Grill, which donates proceeds from the day’s fundraiser to its Cultivate Foundation, which supports efforts in food sustainability.
For more information or to find a Chipotle location near you, visit Boorito.com.
Buddha Sky Bar: This bar promises its first Halloween Buddha Ball will be the hottest party on Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach on Thursday night. There’s no cover charge, but you must be wearing a costume to enter. The first 100 costumed revelers will get VIP access to the party’s tequila lounge and a goody bag. Expect DJ music and a batch of prizes. The party goes from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Buddha Sky Bar: 217 E. Atlantic Ave.; 561-450-7557; BuddhaSkyBar.com
Tin Fish: Bartender Kelsey Simon is stirring up a Witches Brew Sangria, a Drunken Pumpkin Pie cocktail and a Monsters Inc-inspired rum drink called the Mike Wazowski. The cocktails will be available through Sunday.
Tin Fish: 118 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-223-2497; TinFishClematis.com