High-Class Halloween

The tricks and treats for throwing a standout Halloween party at home.


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Halloween isn’t just for kids anymore. Like New Year’s Eve, for every reveler planning to party until dawn in an overcrowded club, many of us like to celebrate at home with other adults. Here are our tips for throwing a Halloween party at home:

• Greet guests with a bright orange or blood-red cocktail. Get your color by using Campari, Aperol or blood orange juice. (Cocktail recipes below.)

• If you’re planning a dinner or buffet, let guests know in advance and suggest they wear costumes that don’t include gloves or masks.

• Mini sandwiches, bruschetta and single-bite hors d’oeuvres are easiest to handle with a glass (or magic wand) in one hand.

• Choose wines with eerie names, such as Ghost Hill Cellars (Yamhill-Carlton, Oregon), Vampire Vineyards (Beverly Hills, California) and D’Arenberg’s Dead Arm Shiraz (McLaren Vale, Australia).

• Bats and pumpkins are no-brainers when it comes to decorating, but creating a harvest theme using gourds, sheaves of corn and autumn leaves is a bit subtler and can also stay in place through Thanksgiving.

• Anyone can blast Halloween classics like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on the sound system, but for variety, seek out tunes like The Talking Heads’s “Psycho Killer” and Radiohead’s “Creep.” If you’re having a dinner party, play the loud stuff during cocktail hour, and keep things mellow while dining.

Serve Scary Sips

This Halloween, leave the sweet treats and the sugary drink mixes for the kids, and serve your friends grownup cocktails that get their blood-red or bright orange color from spirits and bitters.

Spooky Sparkler

Recipe courtesy Jonathan Pogash, beverage consultant

1 ounce Van Gogh Blue Triple Wheat Vodka
¾ ounce blood orange juice
¼ ounce almond liqueur
1 ounce sparkling wine
Candy eyeball, for garnish

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the vodka, blood orange juice and almond liqueur. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Top with the sparkling wine and garnish with a candy eyeball.

Crime of Passion

Recipe courtesy Alexander Fairgrieve, bar manager at H2o in Nerja, Spain

1¾ ounces white rum, like Brugal Extra Dry
¾ ounce Absolut Mandarin Vodka
¾ ounce simple syrup  
¼ ounce lemon juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 sliver of orange peel
3 whole cloves

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the rum, vodka, simple syrup, lemon juice, bitters and black pepper. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with the orange peel and cloves.

Halloween Howler

Recipe courtesy Daniel Brancusi, bar manager at Vitae in New York City

3 crushed cardamom pods
¾ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup
1 ounce Aperol
1 ounce Bastille Hand-Crafted Whisky 1789
2 orange wedges
1 dash Angostura Bitters

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the cardamom with the lemon juice and simple syrup. Add ice and the remaining ingredients. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled coupe glass.

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