Get in the spirit with spooky snacks

All you need for a shocktail is a good spirit, fresh fruit juices, creepy props and your imagination for coming up with a name for the drink.

Witch's Potion, left, and Floating Spiders, served with Reese's Spiders. (Bob Donaldson/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

Get in the spirit of the season with Halloween potions that are not tricky to make.

In fact, all you need for a shocktail is a good spirit, fresh fruit juices, creepy props and your imagination for coming up with a name for the drink.

Adam Henry, cocktail director at Independent Brewing Co. in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill, has five rules of thumb for Halloweencocktails:

1. "Absolutely go with punch," he says. It helps a host to spend more time with guests rather than be stuck behind the bar. Punch,which comes from the Sanskrit word panch, which means five, is made with five ingredients — spirits, some kind of a citrus, sugar, spices such as nutmeg and tea or prosecco, or even sparkling water.It is an inherent communal drink that can be stretched to meet the crowd size. And guests can return to the bowl for refills without feeling that they are over-indulging as punches have a low-alcohol content.

2. Consider adding seasonal flavors, such as apple brandy, cinnamon, pear and allspice, to your cocktail.


3. Opt for drinks in orange and black, after all they are the official hues of the holiday. An eerie black drink can be made with pulverized, activated charcoal or with squid ink, that is if you don't mind a briny cocktail that tastes like the ocean. Aperol is the go-to drink for that perfect orange color. The orange-flavored Italian aperitif is bittersweet, and pairs well with prosecco."There's also the turmeric root, but it is harder to work with,"Henry says. "It's not so much for flavor, and more for color."

4. It cannot be a Halloween party without the zombie. The quintessential tiki drink is so potent that it could have you walking like one those characters from "The Walking Dead." It is made with three kinds of rums, lime juice, grapefruit juice, cinnamon, falernum (a spiced, citrus Caribbean drink), grenadine and bitters. Created by Earnest Gantt, aka Don the Beachcomber, itwas the original farm-to-table drink, Henry says.

5. Create a smoky, spooky feel around the cocktail table by using dry ice. When warm liquid is poured over dry ice, it instantly produces a huge volume of dense fog for a dramatic effect, Henry says. But it needs to be handled with care because it can cause frostbite. Additionally, Henry cautions never to serve dry ice in a drink itself as it should not be ingested; but should be only used peripherally. So a bowl of punch should be placedinside a larger bowl containing dry ice and warm water.

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