The fright stuff

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It's time to go for the jugular and make the most of the Hallowe'en opportunities. Ben McFarland offers advice for getting into the spirit.It's not...

It's time to go for the jugular and make the most of the Hallowe'en opportunities. Ben McFarland offers advice for getting into the spirit.

It's not enough these days to simply gouge some shapes out of a manky old pumpkin and put a white sheet over your head by way of making an effort this Hallowe'en.

But fear not, for thePublican.com has got on its broomstick, fired up its cauldron and gone to the hubble, bubble, toil and trouble of scouring the trade for some hot Hallowe'en tips designed to make some spooktacular profits.

Now Hallowe'en may not provoke the same kind of interest in the UK as it does among our American friends, but it is nevertheless becoming an increasingly important date on the pub calendar.

With Hallowe'en falling on a Thursday this year, more people are likely to be making a night of it and there is also the added opportunity for willing licensees to stretch the frightening festivities over the weekend.

The Marlborough, a pub in Mayfair just off London's Oxford Street, has gone the extra mile and launched "Halloweek", a five-day celebration of all things ghoulish.

The Marlborough is one of eight outlets that form the Eerie Pub Company, a chain of Scottish and Newcastle theme pubs designed to send a shiver down the spine of customers 365 days a year.

They boast Hammer horror furnishings such as rotating bookcases, menacing gargoyles and glass cases featuring skulls, dusty books and bottles of bubbling chemicals.

Drinkers are greeted with bloodcurdling sound effects (from the speakers not the cubicles) in the ladies and gents.

Not surprisingly, late October is the busiest time of the year for manager Mark Butcher and, following on from last year's theme of the seven deadly sins, he is running a "scare yourself senseless" promotion, during which a different sense will be explored every night.

  • Monday October 28​: "Get a whiff of it... SMELL"
    A competition using aspirators and essential oils. Customers have to guess the smell in exchange for prizes. Witch's noses will be given away.
  • Tuesday October 29:"Now the screaming starts... HEAR it coming"
    Mark will play howling noises through the sound system and the first 10 people to get to the bar when they hear the shriek will receive a free drink. Werewolf ears are to be given out.
  • Wednesday October 30:"SEE... the big day coming"
    Tarot card readers and clairvoyants will be mingling with drinkers and looking into the future for them. Mark has also raided the piggybank and invested in those comedy spectacles with eyeballs on springs.
  • Thursday October 31:"TOUCH... your fear"
    The big night! Wizards and magicians will entertain pub-goers and face painting will be actively encouraged. Witch's hats will also be distributed in an attempt to get customers in the swing of things.
  • Friday November 1:"AfterTASTE... relive the nightmare Friday"
    Designed to reward those people that were there the night before. More giveaways and ghoulish goings-on.

A Hallowe'en evening is not complete without a collection of creepy cocktails.

Mark's concoction, the Spine Chiller, is to run for the duration of Halloweek and he has teamed up with Smirnoff Black Ice in an effort to boost sales.

Black and red jelly beans have been placed in some ice cubes and anyone who spots one in their Spine Chiller will receive a free bottle of Smirnoff Ice or Smirnoff Black Ice.

"We've been testing the idea in advance, it's created a real buzz. It's really uplifted cocktail sales and people are dying for them," added Mark without excusing the pun.

Other cocktails named after the members of the Addams family, available by the glass or in a "jug-ular", will also be pushed, as will a range of shooters served in test-tubes and based on the seven deadly sins.

Prior to the festivities, staff dressed up as ghosts, ghouls and skeletons will recruit drinkers by patrolling Oxford Street on foot and in a limousine, after Mark failed in a bid to get hold of a hearse.

"No-one wanted to give us one and I had the phone slammed down on me a few times," he said.

Creepy Cocktails

Bloody Eyeball Cocktail

  • one radish
  • one pimiento stuffed green olive
  • 25ml shot of vodka or tequila
  • half tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • quarter tsp. horseradish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of Tabasco sauce
  • tomato juice
  • small lemon or lime wedge

Method:

Prepare ice "eyeballs" at least a day before use. Peel radishes, leaving thin streaks of red skin on. Scoop out a hole in each radish, roughly the size of an olive. Stuff a green olive, pimiento side out, in each hole. Place one radish eyeball in each section of an ice cube tray. Fill the tray with water and freeze overnight. Fill a cocktail glass with three eyeball ice cubes, add ingredients in the order given and shake.

Brain Hemorrhage

  • 50ml peach schnapps
  • 25ml Bailey's Irish Cream
  • two drops of Grenadine

Method:​ pour the peach schnapps into a large shot or shooter glass. Slowly add the Bailey's and top with the grenadine.

Hallowe'en beers

If cocktails don't rattle the bones of your regulars, why not have a hoppy Hallowe'en and take your pick from an array of Hallowe'en beers.

Sales of Pendle Witch's Brew, a premium beer from the Moorhouses Brewery in Lancashire, triple during October and it has developed a cult following. It is named after the 19 witches who allegedly haunted Pendle Hill on midsummer's night.

Other possibilities from Moorhouses include Black Cat (3.4 per cent ABV), a winner of the Champion Beer of Britain in 2000, and Witchfinder General (4.4 per cent ABV), a brew tailor-made for the Hallowe'en period.

From Wednesday October 30 to Sunday November 3, JD Wetherspoon is running a Hallowe'en Beer Festival featuring up to 30 real ales, some of which have been brewed especially for the occasion, such as B&T's Phantom Thirst and Bateman's Salem Porter.

The list below is for England and Wales only. There is a separate list for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • Banks & Taylor Phantom Thirst​ 4.5% ABV
    B&T Brewery
  • Batemans Salem Porter​ 4.7% ABV
    George Bateman & Son
  • Hop Back Hop Bat​ 4.0% ABV
    Hop Back Brewery
  • Smiles Looming Lantern​ 4.3% ABV
    Smiles Brewing Company
  • Caledonian Trick or Treat​ 4.5% ABV
    Caledonian Brewing Co
  • Thwaites Daniels Hammer​ 5.0% ABV
    Daniel Thwaites Brewery
  • Phoenix Navvy​ 3.8% ABV
    Phoenix Brewery
  • Camerons Cauldron​ 4.4% ABV
    Camerons Brewery
  • WADWORTH MALT & HOPS​ 4.5% ABV
    Wadworth & Co
  • Cains Formidable Ale​ 5.0% ABV
    Robert Cain & Co
  • Brains Reverend James​ 4.5% ABV
    SA Brain & Company
  • Hook Norton Steam Ale​ 4.4% ABV
    Hook Norton Brewery Co
  • York Centurions Ghost​ 5.4% ABV
    York Brewery
  • Orkney Red Macgregor​ 4.0% ABV
    Orkney Brewery
  • Dublin D'Arcy's Dublin Red​ 4.2% ABV
    Dublin Brewing Company
  • Coach House Gunpowder Mild​ 3.8% ABV
    Coach House Brewery
  • Hall & Woodhouse Golden Glory​ 4.5% ABV
    Hall & Woodhouse
  • Oakhill Black Magic Stout​ 4.5% ABV
    Oakhill Brewery
  • Highgate Be-Fuggled​ 6.0% ABV
    Highgate Brewery
  • Oakham White Dwarf​ 4.3% ABV
    Oakham Ales

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