Take your pumpkin carving skills to a smaller medium by carving your garnish. This is a neat little trick that can go with almost any cocktail and is pictured here in this Jack O' Lantern made with (of all things) Jack Daniel's .
All you need is a knife or channel knife, a little patience, and some fruit to practice with. The orange is a perfect candidate because of its color and thick skin. The trick is to carve out the orange peel, leaving a thin layer of the white pith visible. The second trick is to carefully peel the circle you cut from the fruit. Like I said, a little patience and practice and you have a great garnish.
Try this technique with other citrus fruit as well, or you can do the same with hot pepper garnishes, cutting through the entire skin. Another great addition to the orange face is to burn it as you would any burnt orange peel.
We're not really talking about "slime" here, but more of a swampy sludge look that can be added to your drinks. This technique works best with drinks that include egg like the Bayou Slime pictured because of the foam that is created when shaking and straining these drinks.
The thick, white film that floats atop egg drinks is the ideal palate and any complimentary herb (in this case, mint) can be torn and scattered on top to complete the garnish. If an appropriate addition to the drink, add grated nutmeg or cinnamon for the look of dirt as well.
3. Pumpkin Top
This is a clever and easy garnish that can be used in a multitude of drinks, especially those with a concentration of orange juice, like this Jack O'Lantern Cocktail. By having the orange colored drink as a base and serving a it in a short, round glass the full effect of the pumpkin can be achieved.
Constructing this garnish is simple: Cut an orange wheel and a small lime peel. Twist the lime and poke it into the middle of the orange. This faux pumpkin cap will float on your drink and adding a straw to one side of the orange makes the cocktail below easy to drink.
The eyeball is a creepy organ and there is no time better than Halloween to bring them out. There are many ways to construct eyeballs to use for garnishes and which you choose is going to depend a lot on the style of drink you are serving.
One of my favorite eyeballs is in the picture and goes with the Mad Eye Martini, though it can compliment any number of light flavored or fruity drinks. This one is made with a lychee, a blueberry, and fruit preserves, which create the veins. It is a great concept and the lychee is the perfect candidate for the casing because of its texture and membrane-like feel.
Another eyeball you might try for savory drinks involves a radish and an olive. The idea is part of this Vampire Juice drink. If the radish isn't going to fit your drink, but an olive will, you may want to think about stuffing the olive alone to simulate an eyeball. A little pimento (veins) can be stuffed in either black or green olives, and maybe you want to add a larger stuffing of capers, garlic, or jalapenos on the inside of that to act as the iris.
So the effect of your eyeball creations is not lost, don't drown them in the drink, but skewer the eyes and rest it on top of the glass.
5. Bloody Rim
Drinks that call for a sugar rim, or that could be enhanced with one, can be transformed into a slightly creepier version for Halloween. This can be created by simply using red or black sugar as the Vampire Kiss Martini demonstrates.
There are two options for colored sugar. You can usually find it in the baking section of the grocery store. It is typically used for decorating sweets but makes a colorful rimming option well. The alternative is to add food coloring to white sugar to make any color you want. For Halloween, I prefer the latter because the liquid turns the sugar into more of a gooey substance that sticks easily to the glass, though does also clump more.
Also, try running the rim through grenadine for a red base before the sugar for a more dynamic effect.
6. Dripping Blood
We are going to use another Vampire's Kiss cocktail to demonstrate another bloody effect and this one is much easier.
Essentially, you are going to use a red or other dark syrupy liquid to drizzle over the finished drink to create the look of dripping blood. Grenadine and raspberry liqueurs are perfect for creating this look and are thick enough to suspend in the drink a little longer.
7. Spider Webs
I will admit, this is probably the most difficult garnish to pull off, but if you can get the technique down, your drinks will be stellar.
There are two ways to create the look of spider webs inside a glass. The more interesting and far trickier is demonstrated in the Spider's Kiss and involves drawing the web with chocolate syrup. The key here is to work fast and freeze the glass immediately to avoid too many runs in your syrup. Then again, dripping chocolate can be an interesting effect as well.
The other technique is seen in one of mixologist Victoria D'Amato-Moran's other Midori cocktails. In the Green Ghoul she uses black licorice strips placed along the sides and these are held in place by a generous pile of ice cubes.
Here is another very simple, yet effective, "garnish." Essentially, you're just adding a glow stick to your drinks. The dual advantage here is that you get a cool looking drink and a stir stick. An alternative to this is to wrap a glowing necklace or bracelet around the stem of a glass, securing it with glue on either end.
This cool effect does need some warning. The chemicals inside a glow stick are nasty (read more here) so be sure that the sticks you use are not leaking before placing them in a drink. The other point - and I would hope this would go without saying - is, please rinse the sticks before putting them in anyone's drinks... it's simple sanitation.
Dry ice is an ideal way to add a foggy atmosphere to a party and is perfect for use on a drink table or display.
A classic way to incorporate dry ice is to use it under a punch bowl illuminated by black lights. There are also these great dry ice ideas from About.com Chemistry Expert, Anne Helmenstine. The foggy drink and punch bowl hands are two of my favorites. Though it may be a neat effect, not everyone (myself included) enjoys dry ice directly in their drink and it has been known to have dangerous side effects. This is primarily due to drinkers unknowingly consuming the ice, usually because they do not realize (or are too drunk to know) that it is too cold to consume. Use caution when serving dry ice.
A unique dry ice idea comes from Nick Tether's La Dame Blasee cocktail. He uses dry ice as an aromatic back to the absinthe and vodka cocktail. A similar foggy cup could be used to compliment almost any cocktail.
The disclaimer first: Do not play with fire if you have been drinking. Also, be very careful anytime you light a drink on fire by being aware of surroundings, people, and other flammables nearby.
"Parental" warnings aside, fire is cool and drinks on fire are also cool. There's no dispute in that. You could try this Goblet of Fire, a classic Blue Blazer, a Flaming Spanish Coffee, or (for the more daring) a Flaming Dr. Pepper to add a little spark to your party.
Ice is essential in cocktails and if your Halloween drink menu includes those that are served over ice, you may want to use some ghoulish ice. One can find ice molds and trays in a variety of shapes, from skeletons and ghosts to fangs and pumpkins. It's a fun little addition to the party.
You can also add fruit to ordinary cubes to add the illusion of mysterious floaters.
Those that I would avoid are the reusable ice cubes. They may be fun, but the ice in our cocktails is not there for the sole purpose of keeping the drink cool. The ice's adds to the drink, mellowing it over time.