Halloween cocktails and tales

If the world was a sensible place, this Saturday would be Halloween.2015-10-31-20-03-53

See, some 2000 years ago the Celts decided that on the night before Samhain (pronounce it “Sow’in” to sound smart – it marked the end of harvest and the beginning of winter) on November 1, the dead would return as angry ghosts so we should all put food and wine outside our houses to keep the marauding ghouls happy.

And if you had to leave your house, you would, of course, dress like a ghost.

halloweensoulcakesFast-forward a few centuries to a charming practice where the poor would receive soul cakes in return for praying for the cake-giving family.

Maybe if the wealthy families just shared their cakes with the poor people they wouldn’t have needed other people to pray for them, but that’s another matter.

It is easy to see the path this took to turn into modern Halloween.

Given we’ve learnt a few things in the last 2000 years (we’ll call those “science” for short), maybe we accept that November 1 isn’t likely to be the end of the world, so no need for Halloween to be stuck on 31 October.

This is especially true here in Australia where winter is a distant memory and our biggest Halloween challenge is stopping the sweat from washing away our fake blood as we traipse around the streets.

But Monday it is. The least fun night of the week for kids and adults alike.

So what’s the cocktail equivalent of a fake miniature cauldron full of lollies given to you 2014-10-31-17-56-42simply for dressing up and walking the neighbourhood with your friends?

Every single time you enter a good cocktail bar without children – dressed up cutely or otherwise – and order whatever gives you most joy.

That’s the cocktail equivalent.

If you’re keen to stay on-theme with your cocktail though, there is a clear winner (which also offers the bonus of a return to Shake, Stir, Muddle tradition by reviving our “best efforts but no promises” policy of profiling IBA Official Cocktails).

The Vampiro.

It’s unclear where or why Vampiro was invented, but it gets its name from its colour – red – and joins that other famous red cocktail, the Bloody Mary as an all-day or morning-after cocktail.

Here’s the official recipe – but there are better variations (like this variation at Drink, Play, Love which incorporates grenadine and tabasco and leaves us our onions to eat like apples, as normal people do…)

50mL Tequila (silver)photo-143

70mL Tomato juice

30mL Orange Juice, fresh

10mL Lime juice, fresh

1 teaspoon clear honey

Half slice onion finely chopped

Few slices fresh red hot chili peppers

Few drops Worcestershire sauce



Despite joining better-known names such as the Pisco Sour and the not-a-real-martini Espresso Martini on the list of IBA “New-Era Drinks” (which, to be frank, is the shittiest of their three categories), Vampiro’s namesake has been around in literature  – drinking blood, avoiding sunlight and generally engaging in anti-social but sartorially-elegant behaviour – for centuries.


My second-favourite is Sesame Street’s resident arithromaniac vampire Count von Count (and my thanks and respect to Jerry Nelson who voiced him for forty years until his death in 2012).

If you were worried about this good-hearted character being lonely in his castle, with only his pet bats for company, I’m happy to advise that the Count does have a lady friend, Countess von Backwards, but it is not clear whether she is a vampire so I don’t know the mechanics of that relationship.


(Apropos of nothing, here is a picture of someone who was my boss for a short, tumultuous time.)


But back to the subject matter at hand. Blood-sucking parasites.

Female vampires have not been as well-represented in literature as their male counterparts (surprise surprise), and when they are there, male writers seem unable to resist writing in lesbian themes.

The genesis of the theme seems to be Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1871 gothic novella “Carmilla”, which pre-dates Bran Stoker’s Dracula by 26 years which, typical of its era, hints at it rather than address it head-on.

While eye-rollingly predictable, it is unclear why the lesbian vampire theme is so persistent – perhaps it is unpalatable for a member of the fairer sex – even a female vampire – to be able to physically over-power a mortal male.

Try to find a Halloween costume that is a female vampire, and you will inevitably be offered “sexy vampire” like the below (and please read these excellent reviews of Amazon’s “Sexy PhD costume” offering from last Halloween).


Now just to be perfectly clear here, the Vampiro cocktail will NOT provide any assistance at all in protecting you from vampires. General consensus here seems to be that you should keep the lights bright and the garlic handy (neither of which precludes cocktail drinking by the way).

Above all, remember our lesson from Joel Schumacher’s excellent 1987 horror comedy offering The Lost Boys: don’t ever invite a vampire into your home.



It renders you powerless.

If you missed it, catch up now. Not only is it a genuinely entertaining movie (scoring bonus points for having a vampire named Dwayne), it gives you a clear insight into teenage girls in the 1980s.

220px-lost_boysThe Lost Boys starred basically everyone girls aged 13 to 20 could possibly have been in love with in 1987 – the broody Jason Patric, the intense Keifer Sutherland, both Coreys (not as fun to watch now we hear both boys were being passed around studio execs for widely-known sexual abuse at the time).

Plus the very beautiful Jami Gertz as female half-vampire Star. Gertz appeared in everything that was GREAT about entertainment’s peak decade – Endless Love, Square Pegs, Sixteen Candles, Less than Zero – and is now a noted philanthropist.

If you didn’t love her, you wanted to be her. Most likely both.

So there.

On Monday night, dress up, drink up, enjoy your neighbourhood and lobby for Halloween to be scheduled for the last Saturday in October in 2017.


2 thoughts on “Halloween cocktails and tales

  1. Halloween in Australia- ghastly. nearly as bad as David Niven in “Vampira” (circa 1974)- but aside from those two grotesque references, another joyous read on a Friday pre- drinks. I might make a “Vampiro” for Monday night, sipping it in the front garden whilst I turn the hose on those children who come scavenging for half melted chocolate……

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