Halloween is my favorite holiday. I don’t really care all that much about the costumes, but I do really enjoy getting drunk and carving pumpkins.
Sidenote: I guess I’m lying about the costumes. We don’t always bother with it, but this year I’m dressing up my rottweiler as Glitzy the Pig from Honey Boo Boo. True story. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, good for you, it means you still have all your brain cells). Whenever you pet him he grunts like a pig, which is adorable, so the pig costume makes sense, and the Honey Boo Boo part is just me escalating the situation because, you know, if you’re gonna dress up your huge handsome dog as a pig, you might as well put a tiara and a dress on him too. He’s excited, he told me. I haven’t really decided what I’m making for dinner; it will be something festive, but will not be shaped like ghosts or look like dead mummy fingers. I usually make something with winter squash, like this butternut squash bisque with coconut milk and lemongrass. I’ve also made dinners that are kind of Thanksgiving inspired – some kind of roast turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing. Halloween tends to mark a drastic change in the weather here, when it tends to go from nice and summery to freezing cold and rainy, and the date seems more appropriate as a harvest celebration than late November.
The one thing on the menu that never changes, that’s set in stone, that I know we’ll be having, is my boyfriend’s famous hot cider, known among our friends simply as “punch.” It is so, so good. It’s the perfect thing for when it’s ridiculously cold out and you want to warm up but also have cocktails. It’s a great for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Tuesdays and any other time you want to drink something amazing. It’s the kind of cocktail that tastes sweet and innocent but has a huge amount of alcohol hiding behind those spiced apples.Jason’s Punch
I don’t actually know his exact recipe; I don’t think there really is one. Usually making punch involves gallon jugs of cider and whole handles of whiskey. This is the closest I could come to replicating it in a batch size that seemed reasonable for normal people. If you decide to go big, you don’t really have to stick to to the recipe. The key is that the brown sugar and the honey hide the taste of the booze, so if it tastes too boozy, just add more brown sugar. Good luck!
Makes: 4 cocktails, which is most likely nowhere near enough…
Cook Time: 20 minutes or so
- 32 oz. apple cider or high quality apple juice
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 3 whole cloves
- a pinch of ground allspice
- a pinch of ground nutmeg
- 200 ml. dark rum (6 1/2 oz.)
- 1/2 c. whiskey – you can tell by our recycling bin that I like Crown Royal right now, but whatever you have on hand is most likely fine
- 1/4 c brandy – if you have infused brandy in your pantry, this is a great time to use some. I have a big jar of pear brandy that was perfect for this.
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 c. honey
- Optional fancy ingredients: 1 fresh bay leaf, 2 green cardamom pods
In a medium sized pot, combine apple cider, cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, brown sugar and honey. If you want to make even fancier, add the bay leaf and cardamom pods, but it’s totally fine without them. Simmer this mixture for about 20 minutes. You can remove the whole spices at this point, if you want, but I don’t usually bother. Turn the heat to very low and pour in the whiskey, brandy and rum. Serve, garnished with a cinnamon stick in each cup.
At this point, we leave the heat on very low so that it stays on the stove for people to go get more if they want. It’s so important that you do NOT let the temperature get any hotter that this, or else the alcohol will cook off and the cocktail will lose all of its punch, and that would be an absolute travesty.
Note: I just want to say, I rarely am organized enough to write blog posts with recipes for major holidays before the holiday actually happens, but this one is so ridiculously good that I actually managed to get it done. You should make this for Halloween. You’ll be happy, I promise.