For all you candy-lovers, inner children, costumer party enthusiasts, sweet tooth-aholics and regular alcoholics, this one’s for you. Who says kids get to have all the fun on Halloween? Fun-haters, that’s who. This year, take your fright-fest frivolity to the next level by making an educated choice in pairing Halloween treats with equally tasty tricks, of the alcoholic variety.
Treat: Peanut M&MS
Trick: Sandeman 10-year Tawny Port
Trivia: Port, if you aren’t familiar, isn’t just a dockside locale for imported goods to check-in; it is also a sweet, fortified red wine that hails exclusively from Portugal. The grapes are fermented like regular red wine but, when the ideal sugar level hits during this sugar-to-alcohol conversion process, the fermentation is stopped before it is complete when spirits (usually grape brandy) is added in, thus fortifying the mostly fermented juice.
Legally, the bottlings have to be at least 17.5 percent ABV, so most makers use about 30 percent brandy to jack it up, and the finished product must be aged for a minimum of two years. Long story short, this Tawny port was aged for 10 years in barrel and shows off flavors of prune, vanilla, strawberry jam and nuts, which make it a reciprocal match for a bag (or six) of peanut M&MS.
Treat: Jolly Ranchers
Trick: Domaine Neige Première Ice Cider
Trivia: The world’s first ice cider, Neige was released onto this planet in just 1995. Created in Québec’s praised Montérégie region, the province’s fruit basket of agricultural fame, and modeled after ice wine, ice cider is made in two different ways: cryoconcentration (apples are picked, pressed for juice and the juice is left outside to freeze once the weather is cold enough) and cryoextraction (apples are harvested in late winter, as opposed to early fall, when they are naturally dehydrated, concentrated and frozen). This golden pour is a vibrant syrupy delight of white flowers, baking spices, tart apple and caramelized citrus, all leading to a symmetrical, tart-and-sweet equal to favorite Jolly Rancher flavors, like Cinnamon Fire, Green Apple and Blue Raspberry.
Trick: Larcerny Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Trivia: Kentucky is hallowed ground for the barrel-aged American whiskey better known as bourbon. By law, bourbon whiskey’s mash bill (the “recipe” of grains used) must be 51-80 percent corn, it must be aged for a minimum of two years in new white oak barrels, nothing but water can be added at bottling (like flavoring) and the ethanol alcohol percentage (proof) must sit between 80 and 125 proof. Although the spirit is now produced in everywhere from Seattle to Tokyo, bourbon originated in the Bluegrass State’s Bourbon County and must be produced within state borders to call it Kentucky Straight Whiskey.
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This small-batch straight bourbon whiskey is true to the cause, blended from barrels that are aged anywhere from six to 10 years and is bottled at 92 proof. The amber-hued spirit fumes of creamed corn, maple, freshly baked pastries and caramel, with similar oaky traits on the palate, sealing with a caramel-coated nutty kiss. Snickers — in all of its caramel-and-peanut-topped nougat glory, covered in a cushy blanket of milk chocolate — is the icing on the bourbon cake when it comes to harmonious pairing. Must find Snicker bourbon cake recipe…
Trick: Georgetown Brewing Bodhizafa India Pale Ale
Trivia: In a British solution to exporting ales eastward, specifically to India, brewers would increase the amount of hops used to preserve the beer throughout it’s long — and usually humid — trip. Turns out the naturally growing plant would also increase the bitterness in the ale, a flavor profile that has a cult support base today.
Georgetown Brewing’s Bodhizafa IPA, named for Patrick Swayze’s character in the 1991 movie “Point Break,” won the coveted “Best American IPA” gold medal this year at the Great American Beer Festival and rightly so: it’s friggin’ delicious. Juicy with explosive citrus aromas and flavors (mandarin, grapefruit and candied lemon), resinous hops lay down the bitter law, making exceptions for creamy malts and a crisp, citrusy finish. Like Bodhi on his surfboard, this beer is all about gravity and balance, complementing the juicy quality of Skittles and countering the candy’s sugar with bitterness and acid.
Trick: Smatt’s Silver Rum
Trivia: Coconuts and rum go together like… pirates and rum. The 17th century sugar-based spirit even spans musical history, from seafaring sing-alongs (yo-ho-ho) to R. Kelly’s “Remix to Ignition.” Fermented and distilled from sugarcane byproducts (typically molasses), rum comes in various grades, from spiced and dark (color derived from caramelized sugar and/or barreling aging) to light (or white/silver) rum, such as Smatt’s Silver. This colorless, filtered rum bursts with notes of coconut, caramel and banana, with vanilla laced through to the pure and clean finish. Coconut is crucial here, making this rum an easy drink pick when sipping and mowing down on a milk chocolate and coconut Mounds bar, matching sweetness for sweetness, fruit flavor for fruit flavor.