Here's a quick analogy for you: At Halloween, children are to candy what adults are to _________.
If you answered "cocktails," you're a winner. Drink up.
Responsibly, of course — designate a driver, app an Uber, get a room.
Or you could stay home and mix your own libations. Again, responsibly. Wherever you're drinking, potent potions cause wicked hangovers when consumed in excess.
As Halloween traditions go, throwing or attending a party is on the agenda for 32% of Americans this year, according to the number crunchers at Statista.com. That's more than are planning to take the kids trick-or-treating, which accounted for 29% of survey respondents.
But why not do both? With Halloween still eight days away, you can have a little 21-and-older fun this weekend and do the candy crush with the little monsters on Oct. 31.
For inspiration, we checked in with several Chattanooga bartenders and professional party planners to see how they'll be mixing boos with booze. Part of the fun seems to be in naming the creative concoctions.
A costume party at Chattanooga Cigar Club on Saturday will feature drinks called Witch's Brew, Purple Haze and Arnold Embalmers.
Bars in the West Village around the Westin hotel will be serving drinks called Friend of the Devil, Goosebumps and Last Word, among others.
The Freakers Ball on Station Street will stir up Monster Mash at Regan's Place, Witches Brew at Westbound Bar and Candy Apple at Songbirds. The signature drink coming from Stir is still shrouded in mystery, but a favorite from the four establishments will be chosen by the end of the evening.
"It'll be a competition between bars to see who has the best drink made by Wheatley vodka," says Duane Carleo of Regan's Place.
One of the largest parties in town, Cirque du Freak: Spooktacular Gala, at 901 Lindsay Street, will serve The Killer Clown as its signature cocktail. It looks innocent enough, but this is not kid stuff, despite the magic involved in its making.
A main ingredient, a handful of pink cotton candy, actually dissolves, melts, disappears as a shaker of Kinky Pink liqueur, Smirnoff Whipped Cream vodka and cranberry juice is poured into the martini glass. A bobbing red gumball — a clown nose — then appears in the murky mixture.
Keegan Chitwood, whose Keegan Chitwood Events & Design company is planning this second-year gala, says he chose the circus as this year's theme without realizing "It: Chapter Two" would be in theaters and that clowns would figure so prominently in the mass merchandising of Halloween.
If you're keeping score, Google Trends' FrightGeist ranks "It's" sinister Pennywise as the most-searched costume in the nation, and "clown" is No. 6.
"They're everywhere," Chitwood says.
The pop-culture influence only adds to the aura of the party, which is based on a vintage circus. The venue will be draped in fabric to resemble a big top, and performers from Chattanooga Fire Cabaret will juggle, blow fire and walk on stilts.
Chitwood says guests "love the atmosphere of a themed event," and the signature drink is just one more extra that sets the mood as partygoers arrive.
"People love not having to make a decision [about a drink] when they come in. They'll say, 'Just give me that one.'"
Here's a selection of drinks being served at Halloween parties around Chattanooga this weekend, plus one from chef and food personality Leigh Ann Chatagnier, who compiles the food and lifestyle blog My Diary of Us.
The bartenders concocting drinks for the competition on Station Street this weekend wouldn't share specifics, but they did divulge the main ingredients if you want to play around with your own potions.
* Monster Mash at Regan's Place: Wheatley vodka, melon liqueur, blue curacao, sweet-and-sour and a splash of cranberry.
* Witches Brew at Westbound Bar: Wheatley vodka, raspberry liqueur, blue curacao, sweet-and-sour and a splash of Sprite.
* Candy Apple at Songbirds: Wheatley vodka, apple schnapps, splash of Sprite and a dash of grenadine.
The Killer Clown
1 ounce Kinky Pink liqueur
1 1/2 ounces Smirnoff Whipped Cream vodka
1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
Mix liqueur, vodka and cranberry juice with scoop of ice in shaker. Pour over a handful of cotton candy in a martini glass. Garnish with red gumball.
— From Keegan Chitwood Events & Design and A Silverware Affair
2 ounces Midori
1/2 ounce triple sec
1/2 ounce blanco tequila
1 ounce lime juice
1 ounce pineapple juice
This shaken drink is "dashed across the rocks" and poured. Garnish with gummy eyeballs.
— From Citron et Sel at the Westin hotel
Friend of the Devil
1 ounce Rittenhouse Rye 100
3/4 ounce vermut noir (dark vermouth)
.666 ounce Chambord raspberry liqueur
3/4 ounce orange juice
Shake and strain into a glass.
— From Paloma Bar de Tapas at the Westin Hotel
Spiced Caramel Apple Hot Toddy
Chef Leigh Ann Chatagnier says she serves this throughout the season.
"I love a warm and cozy cocktail as soon as fall rolls around, and I thought how fun is it to make a drink that is spooky enough for Halloween," she says. "This is the perfect drink to mix up in a large batch and serve it pitcher style in a Thermos if you are having a Halloween party for adults."
1 cup apple cider
1/8 cup fresh orange juice plus 1 whole orange slice
8 caramel candies
1 splash water
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
8 whole cloves
3 ounces Bulleit bourbon
Apple slices for garnish
In a small saucepan, combine apple cider, orange juice, 4 caramel candies, cinnamon stick, star anise, orange slice and whole cloves, and simmer for 15 minutes until fragrant and caramels have melted, stirring occasionally.
In 2 heat-safe glasses, add 1 1/2 ounces of bourbon each.
Take the remaining caramels, add a splash of water to a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute until caramels are melted and smooth. (Alternatively, you can melt on the stove.)
Strain the warmed spiced caramel apple cider into each glass equally, stir with the bourbon, and garnish with an apple slice and drizzle the melted caramels over the rim of each glass.
Serves 2. Serve immediately.
— From Leigh Ann Chatagnier / www.MyDiaryofUs.com
Contact Lisa Denton at email@example.com or 423-757-6281.