Every Spooktacular Studio Soiree needs its own witch’s brew to keep the party going, and since it’s fall in Wisconsin, I decided to put a terrifying twist on the familiar favorite—the Wisconsin Old Fashioned.
A New Old Fashioned
When ordering an old fashioned, you usually choose between whisky and brandy, but for this mix, I chose to use both. Why skimp on the good stuff?
To make it really special and specific to the season, I added local apple cider, homemade maraschino cherries, and cinnamon candies along with the customary bitters.
The slight kick of cinnamon from the candies compliments the dark liquors and gives the drink a full, fall flavor that is irresistible on a spooky night. For an added layer of flavor, I smoked the cocktail with some hickory smoke using a tea diffuser over a drink jigger and wood pellets used in pellet smokers. I lit the pellets on fire using a butane torch, then blew out the flame and inverted the glass dispenser over the smoking pellets. When the container was full of smoke, the cover is quickly put back on top and the ingredients are added quickly using a funnel to prevent the smoke from escaping. Feel free to eliminate the smoke if it sounds like too much work. The final glasses were also garnished with a smoking cinnamon stir-stick.
Bone-Chilling Apple Skulls
Carved apples made to look like skulls topped off the creepy concoction while also adding a little natural apple sweetness. When floating in your blood-red old fashioned, they will certainly catch the eye and impress your guests.
To recreate the apples, first remove the skin. Then, use a small melon baller or paring knife to create the eye sockets. In relation to the eyes, carve the mouth and nose. Then, shave the sides of the apple to give the illusion of gaunt cheekbones. Soak the apples in lemon water to prevent browning. Ours were dehydrated overnight, but you can also cook them in a 175 degree oven for 4 hours.
I made a big batch for our large group of guests, but you can easily pair down this recipe to a pitcher or even an individual glass. Guests were impressed with my Halloween interpretation of a beloved drink. I was just happy to live up to high Wisconsin standards. At your next event, make sure to keep your audience in mind, and remember to cook with love and live to cook.
Jim & Jena
- 1 jar luxardo or maraschino cherries, or homemade, stemmed with liquid
- 16 dashes cranberry or angostura bitters
- 1 container small red hot candies, optional
- 1 gallon Fresh apple cider
- 1 bottle(750 ml) Brandy
- 1 bottle(750 ml) Bourbon
- 2 bottles(12 oz) Ginger beer such as Gray's
- 6 ea. Cinnamon sticks
- 6-8 ea. Granny Smith apples, carved into heads and dried overnight
- In a blender, combine cherries, bitters and cinnamon candies. Blend into small pieces. Pour mixture into a large glass drink dispenser.
- Add cider, and remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, add ice and serve with cherries and cinnamon stir sticks for garnish.