Halloween is a Saturday this year. A great chance to serve a few drinks. Our north Asheville friends are having people over again this year after the kids trick-or-treat. Always a great time. They’ve allowed me to contribute some booze. I’ve been trying to come up with something unique, delicious and worthy of Halloween night. I made a couple of false starts last week, pulled out some books from the cocktail library then had a revelation this past weekend.

I’m maintaining my love for the Manhattan that started back on July 4th with the Cherry Bounce Manhattan. That was a good drink. I pulled off a little of the Blackberry infused rye to make a few for a recent camping trip. Even better, a perfect combination with the light snow that was falling. For Halloween I want to add a little extra  <*punch*> to the drink. I played around with adding flavored liqueurs, but each one also added sugar. That made the combinations too sweet. The revelation was to infuse whatever flavors I want into the rye before mixing up the drinks! duh. Fortunately, I figured out this obvious solution while I still had time to get it done. I give you:

Fall infused Rye

  • 75cl Rye Whiskey
  • 12 oz frozen cherries
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon stick chips (~ 3 sticks)
  • 4 large strips of orange zest
  • grated zest of one orange
  • 10 allspice berries, crushed
  • 4-5 whole cloves

Infuse cherries and rye for 4-5 days. Add spices about 48 hours before straining. Add grated orange zest 12-24 hours before straining.

I’ve got some more Carpano Antica vermouth coming to mix up a few bottles of Halloween Manhattans. Why “Halloween”? Because that’s when we’ll drink them.

After having that revelation, I had another. Some people won’t drink brown liquors no matter how good the vehicle they come in. This came after discussing Martinis with a friend. He only drinks vodka based cocktails. Go figure. For those lost souls who want to party, but also want to keep the taste meter safe, I also have some vodka infusing with apples and cinnamon.  One of the false starts from the start of this process involved freshly made cherry syrup. I have a wine bottle’s worth of that left. I’m thinking it will be a good addition to the vodka, plus/minus some dry vermouth. Testing and final recipes formulation will occur on the 30th.

Apple infused vodka

  • 75cl Vodka
  • 6 apples, peeled. cored and diced
  • 1/8 cup cinnamon chips (~2 sticks)
  • 10 Allspice berries, crushed
  • 4-6 whole cloves

Infuse over 3-5 days, strain and bottle.

Can’t wait for Friday to take a first taste

Rye and Vodka getting ready for Halloween


Mid-July is when blackberries come in around here. I spent about 30 minutes yesterday morning picking at a nearby public park. About 80% of the berries were still not ripe, but I was able to come away with about 3 cups of good looking ones. Later we went by the weekend city tail gate market to pick up some odds and ends. I came away with 3 more cups of farm grown blackberries that were bigger and sweeter than the wild ones.

Wild  vs. Cultivated Blackberries

Wild vs. Cultivated Blackberries

I have been thinking about what to do with the berries once I had some. I still have a bit of last year’s blackberry liqueur left. That’s a fairly straight forward way to use them. I could do it again, this time cutting back on the sugar. I’m also still taken by the rye whiskey cherry bounce from July 4th.  It was really good. I was thinking about all of this while working in the yard yesterday afternoon when one of neighborhood black bears lumbered by. They’re coming down into populated areas looking for food. The first big crop every year are the blackberries. That clicked – it struck me that a blackberry infused rye could be very good, call it:  Black Bear Rye. I’m not sure there’s much connection between bears and rye whiskey, but they do like blackberries and the name sounds pretty cool. Using last year’s creme de cassis recipe, I had enough berries (6 cups) to infuse two bottles (750 ml each) of whiskey. I added equal parts wild and cultivated berries along with about a 1/4 of a cup of sugar to help the wild berries along. I’ll let it go all summer and hold off on drinking it until the fall. I’m thinking Manhattans, or whatever the flavor combo leads me to-

Black Bear Rye

Black Bear Rye

The Amateur Cocktail Spouse has a neat system for making one-off screened t-shirts. I’m working on a logo for the rye. Watch this space for info on getting yourself a copy.


Here it is:

Found a place that will make one or several shirts for $25 each. Any takers?