Halloween Hooch: Spirit of the Movies

All photos by Danielle Macdonald. 


Fall is an enchanting time filled with pumpkins, dressing up, and an obsession with the after life. The clocks fall back and the nights become longer. It is a perfect time to watch a scary movie and indulge in your favorite potions! While viewing your spooky movie of choice, see if you can spot the alcoholic beverages which are often used to enhance a plot or add to a character’s development. Many drinks also appear as paid advertising, but that’s an entirely separate article.

Murder (Alfred Hitchcock, 1930)

Hitchcock was known for his fondness of food and drink, and this obsession often spilled into many of his films as a recurring motif. The outline of this movie starts with the murder of an actress who is traveling on a train with a theatre company. Another actress in the group is found suffering from amnesia, standing next to the body. She is soon on trial for murder and sentenced to the death penalty. Herbert Marshall plays a character who is an actor named Sir John (Menier), who also happens to be on the jury, and later believes she is innocent and must prove so before it's too late.

One of Hitchcock’s director traits was his obsession with guilt and innocence. Alcohol would often coincide with this sub text, offering a glimpse into the character’s inner thoughts. In Murder, the character of Sir John is listening to the announcement of the death conviction on the radio. He is starting to doubt the conviction when his servant brings him a brandy cocktail. He picks up the drink and through voiceover, he is heard pondering the trial. He takes a sip of the drink and shouts out: “The Brandy, who drank the Brandy?!!!” realizing whoever drank the brandy must be the murderer.

Hitchcock’s clever use of brandy was the clue that may have saved the convicted, and the favorite drink also appeared in at least one shot of every film he directed.

Why not celebrate Hitchcock’s love of brandy and pour yourself a glass of 2017 New York International Spirit Competition gold medal winner Van Ryn's Distillers Reserve 12 YearThis rich and flavorful South African brandy is just the thing to calm the nerves on a spooky night or after a scary long day.

The Shining
The Shining

The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)

Based on Stephen King’s book, The Shining, Kubrick focuses on the character Jack Torrance, a wannabe writer and recovering alcoholic. Jack takes a job as an off season caretaker at the historic Overlook Hotel and brings his family along too. His five year-old son Danny has mental abilities referred to as “The Shining”, enabling him to see the horrific past happenings that occurred in the hotel. While in the hotel, there is a large snow storm that leaves the family stranded and the supernatural powers start to influence Jack’s state of mind, leaving his family in grave danger.

Alcohol is used as a motivation for many of Jack’s decisions with his choice of drink being bourbon. One of the most famous scenes in The Shining, is in the hotel bar. Jack is becoming unhinged saying to the Phantom barman, “So here’s what you slip me, a bottle of bourbon, a little glass and some ice. You can do that can’t you Lloyd?”

In an additional scene, Jack’s swears he would sell his soul to the devil if he could have a drink. The audience is left wondering if the demons are all in his mind or if the supernatural occurrence is really happing.

Release your death grip on the pillow and go pour yourself a glass of 2017 NYISC silver medal- winning Crooked FoxBourbon Whiskey. Flavors of smokey maple and nutmeg are wrapped around hints of whole vanilla pods, closely followed by the warmth of malted barely, with a spicy hint of rye.

Nightmare on Elm St
Nightmare on Elm St

Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984)

The idea of something horrible coming to get you in your sleep is every child’s worst nightmare. Let’s be honest here, as an adult this movie can still give one the goose bumps and make you check under your bed before lights out. The ghost of Freddie Krueger is hunting down teenagers in their sleep and slaughtering them to seek revenge on their parents. They had burnt Krueger to death for the crimes he had committed.

In a majority of 80s horror movies, you will often find a drunk - a character who is out of control and easy pray for the horrors to come. The audience is helpless, frustrated and knows at some point the token drunk is bound to meet a ghastly death. In this case it’s Nancy’s vodka-swigging mother, who meets her end in the last few shots of the movie. Nancy waves goodbye to her mother only to discover they are still in a dream and Krueger is still alive. This nail-biting ending paved the way for one of the most well-known horror sequels and franchises in the world.

Nancy liked to guzzle her vodka straight. We suggest you purchase a good quality vodka like 2017 NYISC gold medal winner, Hell’s Half Acre 1885 from Fort Worth Texas' Panther City Distilleryand either have it on the rocks or add it to a cocktail. Using organic dextrose from the cassava root, it starts as a powdered tapioca starch. The fermented sugar is double the sugar you find in standard potato, corn or grain vodka, which lends a smooth, rounded sweetness which is full on the palette. The nose has traces of spring flowers, which carries a lightness to counter the dark movie you are watching.

From Dusk Til Dawn
From Dusk Til Dawn

From Dusk till Dawn (Robert Rodriguez, 1996)

Directed by Robert Rodrigues and written by Quentin Tarantino, this tongue-in-cheek horror flick has the added benefit of the excuse to stare at George Clooney. The movie summary is of two immoral brothers who rob and murder their way across America, eventually fleeing over the border to Mexico. Once south of the border they stumble across a dodgy-looking trucker’s bar and soon discover this is not your run-of-the-mill, down-and-out bar, but a vampire-infested, blood-sucking hell fest. To authenticate and create sense of place, tequila was the drink of choice throughout this movie, strategically placed in many of the bar scenes.

If you are not keen on drinking tequila neat (or if you must, with salt and slice of lime), why not make a Margarita? Just shake 2 oz with a 1/2 oz each of fresh lime juice and agave nectar. Our tequila of choice is 2017 NYISC silver medal award-winning Padre Azul Añejo, which is aged in oak barrels for 18 months. Chocolate and vanilla cover a full basket of dried fruit flavors and cinnamon. Complex, yet incredibly smooth, it is a pleasure both on the rocks or in a cocktail. Its appearance is apt for this film, with its leather jacket-covered, hand blown glass bottle and a solid metal skull fastening which is a bow to Mexico's Day of the Dead culture.

Enjoy your evenings of scare fest and don’t forget, Fall would not be so wondrous without the added spirits!