Spooky holiday a reason for dreaming up inventive drink and party ideas

2012-10-31T00:00:00Z 2012-10-31T20:44:08Z Spooky holiday a reason for dreaming up inventive drink and party ideasPhilip Potempa (219) 852-4327, philip.potempa@nwi.com nwitimes.com

Hearing Donald Trump's distinct voice booming the words "You're Fired!" might sound scary to contestants on his NBC series "The Apprentice."

And his formidable businessman approach still ranks him as a favorite creative Halloween alter ego costume.

But The Donald's ability to send shivers down the spine of those gathered in his famous boardroom has nothing to do with the list of spooky cocktails on the menu at his Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago.

Until midnight tonight, Michael Koury, manager at Rebar, the exclusive chic mezzanine-level cocktail lounge at the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago located at 401 N. Wabash Ave., says guests can select from delicious Halloween-themed specials while enjoying festive décor.

There's the Dra-Kahlua ($15), a haunting blend of Kahlua, Martell V.S.O.P., cognac, triple sec, lemon juice and a splash of simple syrup; and the popular Pump J.R. ($18), a festive delight of pumpkin liqueur, Godiva white and vanilla with a hint of cinnamon.

"We love dreaming up fun cocktails for Halloween," said Koury, who has worked at the property since it opened about four years ago.

"Halloween is like our warm-up to New Year's Eve. We have three bartenders on staff, and they are really our drink designers."

Koury said all of the drinks served this year are new, with the exception of one holdover: the Pump J.R.

"We've been serving our pumpkin cocktail for the past four years and it's just too good not to bring back each year," he said.

"Just like picking out a Halloween costume, Halloween cocktails are all about a unique and creative approach."

Also known for their sushi menu, Koury said spooky specialty maki rolls on the menu include the Trick-or-Treat, with sweet potato tempura, tempura asparagus, marinated squash, and warm teriyaki dressing, topped with a festive selection of tobiko ($20); the Midnight Light, offering spicy octopus and avocado topped with marinated scallop dressed with a wafu dressing and gold flakes ($25); the Tarantula with cucumber and avocado soft shell crab topped with tuna and salmon Hamachi, sweet chili dressing and a festive selection of tobiko chives ($22); and the Full Moon, Japanese pumpkin tempura topped with unagi and fresh ground sesame seeds with unagi banana dressing ($24).

It's not enough for Halloween drinks to be delicious; they also have to be creepy, according to Associated Press contributing writer Alison Ladman.

"That's where we drew our inspiration for these beverages — a kid-friendly, delightfully slimy grape 'eyeball' punch and a not-so-kid-friendly murky and thick 'orange haze' that blends orange liqueur, chocolate liqueur and honey," Ladman said.

"To up the creep factor of the eyeball punch, you can peel the grapes before adding them to the other ingredients. There are two ways to do this. You can freeze the grapes, wash them, then arrange them on a rimmed baking sheet keeping them apart, then freeze, then run them under warm water to loosen the skins. Alternatively, you can plunge fresh grapes first into boiling water, then into ice water to loosen the skins."

Sometimes, it's the season's hottest new Halloween costumes that can also inspire new cocktail creations.

The makers of Portón Pisco, an ages-old brand of brandy, decided to give a new flavor and themed spin on the traditional Bloody Mary recipe in tribute to the film villain of last summer's latest Batman movie, Bane, which ranks as one of 2012's popular Halloween characters.

And no two monstrous tastes are ever the same on Oct. 31 for dreaming up nightmarish menu options.

At the DMK Burger Bar, with Chicagoland locations in both Lakeview and Lombard (dmkburgerbar.com), the favorite appetite conversation starter on the menu, at least until midnight, is something called The Bloody Burger, comprised of steak tartare, topped with a fried egg, garlic aioli and salt and vinegar chips, served on garlic bread for $12.

To make the Halloween meal extra bloody, guests can also add a half-pint of the house Bloody Mary for $3.

Grape Eyeball Punch

8 cups grape juice

2 cinnamon sticks

1 tablespoon whole cloves

1 tablespoon whole allspice

Three 1-inch slices fresh ginger

3 cups green grapes, peeled or not

Three 12-ounce bottles ginger beer or ale, chilled

DIRECTIONS: In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the grape juice, cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice and ginger. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Allow to cool to room temperature, at least 1 hour. Strain out and discard the seasonings, then transfer to a large pitcher or punch bowl and chill until cold. Once chilled, add the grapes and ginger beer or ale. Makes 8 servings.

Orange Haze

3/4 ounce orange liqueur

3/4 ounce milk chocolate cream liqueur

1/2 teaspoon honey

Orange zest, to garnish

DIRECTIONS: Pour the orange liqueur into a shot glass. Very slowly pour the chocolate liqueur down the side of the glass, then drizzle the honey over the top. Garnish with orange zest.

Bane's Bloody Mercy

1-1/2 shot glasses of Portón

4 shot glasses of tomato juice

2 teaspoons horseradish

1/2 shot glass of Worcestershire sauce

2 dashes of hot sauce

Squeeze lemon

Squeeze lime

Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS: Combine ingredients in a Collins glass with ice, and stir. Do not shake. Garnish as desired. Makes 1 cocktail.

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