It’s nearly Halloween, and I know what you’re thinking: “How do I cram more candy into my body?” Eating candy as a snack is a good start, but for a well-balanced Halloween, it’s important to incorporate sweets into your beverages, too. As you plan for this weekend’s festivities, consider buying extra candy to jazz up your creepy cocktails with a candy garnish. They can be a lot more complimentary than you may have thought (read here for pairing ideas). They also significantly raise the festive-factor with their bright colors and flashy packaging. You can garnish your drinks in three spooky ways: rotisserie-style, the simple drop-in technique, or frozen into an ice cube.
I recommend the rotisserie-look for most chocolate candies, like fun-size Milky Ways or Snickers, because what’s the point of fun-size anyway if not for fitting on a skewer for your drink—and you can keep the glitzy metallic wrapper on. The wrapper helps your guests identify the candy they like and, well, unwrapped chocolates are rather turd-shaped and generally don’t look very attractive at the bottom of a Manhattan. (It looks more like the bottom of the East River.)
Additionally, you can skewer them in advance without touching them all, so you can have a pile at-the-ready to drape over cocktails as guests arrive, without the candy being exposed to the elements. It’s also a great option if you’d like to give your guests a choice of whether or not they want candy at all. I used a bamboo skewer, cut in half, but you can purchase large toothpicks that are just as effective. Just make sure the length is longer than the mouth of the glasses you’ll be using.
You can skewer, rotisserie-style, any other soft candies, but do take advantage of themed shaped sweets like gummy vampires, skulls, or gummy eyeballs, though I think those candies are more effective as a drop-in garnish. Eyeballs and gummy worms are fantastic because they look ghostly and warped at the bottom of a martini glass. The cloudier the cocktail, the better. Especially if you’re trying to surprise some guests. Gummy candies are especially great because, unlike Skittles or M&Ms (decidedly non-scary candies), the gelatin keeps them from being readily soluble in water. Gummies won’t dissolve into your drink, so you won’t alter the flavor of the cocktail or the candy by the time you get to the bottom of it. Be aware that sour gummies should match up with the drink you’re putting them in: The sour powder and granulated sugar are exposed on the surface of the candy, and they’ll dissolve into the drink rather quickly. If you decide to use sour candy, stick with garnishing tangy, citrusy cocktails.
The ice cube method is one of my favorite ways to use candy garnishes. Simply prepare an ice cube tray half-filled with water. Insert any small festive candies that you like. Once again, I suggest candy that doesn’t dissolve quickly, so leave the Smarties alone. (Actually, leave those at the store.) On the bright side, if you do use dissolving candies, you’ll get a colorful ice cube. Gummy eyeballs and vampire teeth look great in cubes. Place one or two candies into each divot—it’s OK if they stick out slightly, sometimes that’s even better. Pop them in the freezer for about three hours until thoroughly frozen. The cubes will cloud up slightly, leading to a sufficiently creepy cube. Dislodge one from the tray, drop it into a rocks glass for a fabulously freaky cocktail, and enjoy the burst of energy from these candy-laden drinks.
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