Depending on how much you have in common with Martha Stewart, this may be the time of year when pumpkins, scarecrows, and hay bales are appearing on your front stoop and you’re musing over such questions as, “How can I make hors d’oeuvres that look like bugs and severed fingers?” and “How can I make a Halloween cocktail that’s spooky but not cheesy?”
Ever since I stopped feeling totally fine after eating a pillowcase-full of Milky Ways and Three Musketeers in a single sitting, I haven’t gotten that jazzed about Halloween. However, when someone asks me how they can make a Halloween cocktail that isn’t totally cheesy, well then I perk up, ready to start participating again.
I floated the question by a couple of our bartenders at our distillery and we brainstormed how one could make a black cocktail (squid ink cocktail? maybe?) and tossed around ideas for a blood red Campari punch with ice hands floating in it (sounds like a good idea) or a Bloody Mary punch bowl with calamari pieces floating in it like entrails (sounds awful).
Then our bar manager said, “What about something gooey like tapioca or chia that would be like frog eggs?" and I knew we were onto something. I thought instantly of the large, wobbly tapioca balls in boba tea. I know many will disagree with me, but I find them utterly disgusting. They remind me all too much of eyeballs and frog eggs. And since they’re apparently fit for drinking, being a tea ingredient and all that, a boba bubble cocktail had to be workable.
I also knew I wanted the cocktail to be slimy, lime green so that the whole thing would look like a devilish witch’s brew. Chartreuse felt like an obvious choice, it being so shockingly green that the color chartreuse is actually named after the liqueur (also, I absolutely love it and am always looking for an excuse to use it).
I added a bit of gin for depth, mint to build on the strong herbal flavors in Chartreuse, lime for impish tartness, and simple syrup to balance the citrus. This, with black boba tapioca balls swirled through looked wicked enough, but then I decided I wanted to drizzle a couple spoonfuls of Aperol over the top. I hoped it would look a bit like a layer of blood, but it mostly sank into the cocktail in clay-colored streaks (ugly enough to make my stomach turn slightly), all while adding lovely complementary citrus and floral notes.
Serve with a big straw for slurping, plus a couple hors d’oeuvres that look like bugs and body parts, and you can feel classy and ghoulish all at the same time. What more could you really want from Halloween (other than a pillowcase of candy)?
1/2 cup boba tea tapioca pearls (I used black ones I found on Amazon)
1/4 cup sugar
20 fresh mint leaves
4 ounces green chartreuse
4 ounces gin
4 ounces fresh lime juice
4 ounces simple syrup
1 ounce Aperol (or Campari)
Photos by Emily Vikre