It’s another six weeks until Halloween, but already the pumpkin pie spice craze is in full swing not only across the United States, but all over the globe. In India they now celebrate Halloween in parts of the subcontinent as “Dress Up Night,” and celebrants spend all day scooping out pumpkins — but not to use as jack-o-lanterns. Instead, they fill the hollowed out pumpkins with savory and sweet mixtures and then slow bake the entire thing in clay ovens. The result is a culinary delight that is sliced up and served to guests when they come over to show off their costumes. In Germany All Hallow’s Eve, as Halloween is called, is not so much about scary costumes as about serving up cinnamon flavored mashed turnips and little cinnamon cookies with an almond paste cross on each one. Even the Chinese are getting into the spirit of the thing, with cinnamon and nutmeg flavored fried rice being offered by street vendors in places like Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Pumpkin pie spice contains some wonderful spices that have long been noted for their alleged medical benefits. Nutmeg was used throughout the Middle Ages in Europe to ward off the Black Plague. It was literally worth its weight in gold to people anxious to avoid the dread disease. And cinnamon is currently being studied by medical research groups across the world to understand why it is such a good settler of upset stomachs and even helps prevent dental caries and ulcers.
And best of all, mixologists for hire are serving up cinnamon themed cocktails that are not only stimulating, but may even be a bit healthy — in moderation. Try one of these at your next adult Halloween party:
Cinnamon Zombie —
Fill shaker with crushed ice.
Add one jigger of vodka.
Add one of Triple Sec, Raspberry flavor.
Add one of brown sherry.
Then add 2 drops of food grade cinnamon oil. (Cinnamon oil is a very powerful irritant in its concentrated form, so don’t get the kind that is used for massage therapy confused with the kind that is used to flavor sweets. The bottle will be clearly marked “FOOD GRADE.”)
Pour into ceramic pumpkin mugs and top off with creme de menthe.
Rum Zinger Punch —
In an iced punch bowl blend one pint of raspberry sorbet with a quart of club soda. Then slowly add a pint of spiced rum while stirring. Most recipes call for a combination of 2 drops ginger oil and 2 drops cinnamon oil, but be aware that ginger oil does not mix with liquids, even alcohol, and will stay floating on top of the punch as pungent little dots. Some people love them, some people can’t stand them. So be prepared for feedback either way.
Calypso Coffee —
To a cup of dark Arabian blend, add one shot of single blend malt whiskey and one shot of Baileys Irish Cream, then stir with a cinnamon stick until the stick is nearly dissolved. This drink is supposedly a fall and winter favorite of Meghan Markle.