It is the Halloween week, and an occasion to make your drinks bloody!
So this is the Halloween week. Time to put on your gory guise and do what fun-loving zombies in shapeless clothes do! Yes I know what you are thinking, celebrating Halloween in this part of the world is pretty new, and you would agree when I say it can also be called a market driven strategy launched on us considering the number of restaurants and pubs in Delhi celebrating the annual All Hallow’s Eve (this past Thursday). But what the heck if the idea is to have yet another occasion for fun and frolic with friends and family!
Every October 31, Halloween is celebrated in the Christian world to remember the dead, also saints (or hallows) and martyrs. Interestingly, some of us also remember our dead forefathers around this time. On the dusk of every Diwali eve, (which is called Chhoti Diwali in north India), my mother in Assam lights up 14 diyas in memory of the family’s dead. Each part of the house is lit up with the diyas including the bari (the front and the backyards) and the pond side. My father makes a mini bhoor (raft made of young banana tree trunk), puts pitha (traditional sweets made of rice and jaggery), khichri laced with homemade ghee and payox (payash) along with a diya and lets it float on the pond overnight for the dead to feast on. That night, among the dishes you take is one made with 14 types of greens meticulously collected from various neighbourhood backyards. And the conversation at the dining table would invariably be about your long gone great grandfather or great granduncle or aunt (spooky, isn’t it?).
Though our custom has remained strictly a custom, with the market taking over Halloween worldwide, it is all about a big fat happy party today, spilling on to the non-Christian world too. Along with options for fun getups, the market (ours too) also offers the reveller an arsenal of spooky games to play, blood red food to partake and creepy cocktails to say cheers to.
Gone are the days when in Halloween parties, you have the downside of downing only Bloody Mary the entire evening. The large pool of food and drinks blogs on the Internet is now a huge help to break this tedium. Last year, at a Halloween do, I was pretty excited to see a blue and orange drink handed down to me. The base was black Sambuca (an Italian Anise-flavoured liqueur) and dark rum rimmed with a thick line of orange sugar. The host called it Licorice Elixir based on a recipe downloaded from a food blog.
This time round, I also make a virtual trip looking for some awesome Halloween brews. There is of course the popular Blood Orange cocktail and yes, Zombie Gut Push too but there are also others. One looked real spooky, a blood red punch garnished with a plastic hand floating on top. But what I liked most are two preparations. One of course is the Licorice Elixir I had last year and the other one is Spiced Bourbon Pumpkin Milkshake. In case you are too lazy to surf the Net, I have the how-to methods for you here.
First, about Licorice Elixir. In a shaker, pour an ounce of any dark rum, one ounce of blue Sambuca and 1/2 ounce Crème de Cacao. Shake well with a few dollops of ice (you can use crushed ice too). Wet the rim of a goblet with water and turn it upside down on some orange sugar to get a thick line around the rim. Pour the chilled brew carefully into the glass and enjoy. This recipe is by Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark, who host Classy Ladies on America’s Cooking Channel. They ask the celebrator to toast the brew to black licorice being the underdog of the candy bowl.
The other blend needs a bit of work but I can promise you that the result is to be savoured. Take a blender, add 2 cups of vanilla ice cream, ½ cup pumpkin (you can roast it a bit if you like), 3 ounces of Bourbon whiskey, 3 tbsp maple syrup, and half a tsp of pumpkin pie spice and blend it fine. Pour the mixture into glasses and sprinkle a pinch of crushed cloves.
In case you don’t get readymade pumpkin pie spice in the market, make your own. Blend well 3 tbsp ground cinnamon, 2 tsp ground ginger, 2 tsp nutmeg, 1 1/2 tsp ground allspice, 11/2 tsp ground cloves and your pumpkin pie spice is ready.
Also, in case you are too lazy to make your own drink but are in a mood to be a goblin with a goblet, you can always walk into one of many watering holes celebrating Halloween in Delhi and NCR.