Some recipes are foolproof. Especially the ones composed of wonderful things that are delightful alone and are therefore even better together. This is one of those recipes. And I needed the kick off to Halloween season to be a good one. To me, Halloween is a season of atmosphere and flavor. But to most people, and pardon me while I make myself sound like an old codger, but to most people it’s all about the gore. And I hate the gore. When did Halloween get to be so gross? Was it the eighties? It was the eighties wasn’t it…I blame the rise of the slasher movie. Of course, I’m also a little weary of the gory side of Halloween because I’ve been to several terrifying Halloween events already. (Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream, Halloween Horror Nights, the Spooky Empire Zombie Walk, etc.) So you know what I need? I need a Norman Rockwellian holiday Halloween this year. I need leafy garlands and soft white, purple and orange twinkle lights. I need, as usual, a good stiff drink . . .
But it can’t just be that either. Because even as a kid I remember playing the game where you get blind-folded and feel peeled grapes and cold spaghetti and they’re supposed to be the guts of a witch. And even back then I remember thinking, “Ewwww . . . this is gross. And kind of inappropriate if you think about it for too long.”
To me, Halloween is apple cider, the charm of Harry Potter movies and the classic animated version of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. So I figured, why not combine them all and set them on fire? And set them on fire I did.
I started with a basic recipe for Hogwarts Pumpkin juice; now I live about half an hour from Universal Studios so I could’ve bought bottled pumpkin juice, but where’s the adventure in that? Heated apple cider, cloves, cinnamon, honey, brown sugar and ginger are all in the recipe. What could possibly go wrong? Allow me to tell you. The recipe also calls for pureed pumpkin juice. My juicer is currently sitting in my sister’s basement back in Indiana. So I had to buy canned pumpkin puree. But I accidentally bought a can of pumpkin pie filling instead. I don’t know what kind of explanation to give you, I think it may have been a serious case of subconscious laziness. Because honestly, who sells canned pureed pumpkin? (Not the Publix across the street from my house . . .)
But again, adding pumpkin pie filling to the apple cider and cinnamon? Not too shabby in the taste department. (The texture on the other hand…a little strange if left to cool. But heated, not so bad.)
Now here’s the best part. Add rum. That’s it. Just…add rum. I added one shot per cocktail, which might seem way too strong. But then, comes the second part . . .
Set it on fire!
As long as the rum you choose is over 80 proof (and all rum is) your pumpkin juice should flame on faster than the Human Torch. If you get an overproof rum (Bacardi 151 would do nicely) your flames will go even higher. Not only is it an impressive ode to the Headless Horseman and his favorite pastime of throwing flaming pumpkins at people (And what’s up with that anyway?) but it also does some nifty things with your beverage. It lowers the alcohol content by burning some of it away. It can also give the drink a nice caramelized flavor sometimes. I almost can’t explain it, but it just does something really nice and rich to the holiday drink.
One teeny tiny warning…don’t let it burn for too long. The flaming pumpkin juice should be served heated, but you definitely don’t want it boiling lava hot. Because it’s hard to feel like you’re on a charming Saturday Morning Post cover when your top lip is blistering up from a wicked apple cider burn. This should go without saying, but please remember to blow out the flame before you drink. This is a holiday treat after all and not a circus act. (Though that would probably be the world’s lamest circus act though . . . “Watch the amazing cocktail-drinking lady!”)
This is a really fun recipe for parties. One adjustment you can make would be to mull it like cider in a crock pot for the day you decorate or carve your pumpkins. You’ll get that lovely seasonal scent wafting through the house and you can add the rum as a shot and light it up at your leisure. Also, this is a delightful recipe without the rum.
However you choose to serve it, may you drink and enjoy! Here’s to a festive Halloween minus the witch guts!
FLAMING PUMPKIN JUICE COCKTAIL
Adapted from Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Makes enough for 8 drinks
- 2 cups of fresh pumpkin chunks from a ‘pie’ pumpkin, i.e., a sweeter pumpkin (you do need to seed your pumpkin but you don’t need to peel)**
- 2 cups of apple cider
- ½ cup of pineapple juice
- 1 cup dark rum
- 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- cinnamon sticks for garnish
- Juice the pumpkin pieces by processing in a juicer if you have one (preferred method); a blender or food processor will work too, you’ll just need to squeeze through a cheesecloth or pour through a sieve lined with cheesecloth
- Put pumpkin juice, apple cider and pineapple juice and pumpkin pie spice into a large container with a lid; shake until blended. You can also blitz in a blender if that’s easier
- NOTE ON PUMPKIN PIE SPICE: we started with 1 teaspoon and added until it was where we liked – about 3 teaspoons
- Shake or pour pumpkin juice over ice, place one cinnamon stick in each glass and serve
**SMITH BITES NOTE: We made this drink twice substituting fresh carrot juice in lieu of the pumpkin juice the second time around and could not tell the difference; both were fabulous! You use also canned pumpkin (28oz can) as Audrey did but you’ll need to cook pumpkin, cider, pineapple juice and pumpkin pie spice for 15 minutes and cool; if you don’t like canned pumpkin floating in the bottom of your drink glass (I don’t), then strain juice mixture thru a sieve lined with cheesecloth; add rum. Simply omit rum for kids – they’ll love it.
One more thing – I’m not brave enough to light anything on fire so BIG PROPS to Audrey for doing it! If that kind of thing tweaks your argyles and you like living on the edge . . .
Audrey served her recipe hot, we made ours cold – either way, this recipe is a winner!!