The Thirteen Drinks of Halloween 2020 – Eleven

The things that really frighten us aren’t witches or ghosts or werewolves or zombies. Sure, those are great for jump scares in the cinema, for scary stories around the campfire during a full moon, but they are also a safe kind of fear. Things we, as a culture, have decided are an acceptable form of scary. But for something truly frightening, something dangerous, we have to look no further than ourselves and the secrets in the human heart. So join me now as we stand and make, In Cold Blood.

This drink was created by Andrew Volk at Portland Hunt & Alpine Club in Portland, Maine. I’ll have to say that Portland is an overlooked corner of gastrological pleasures. Some of the best meals, coffees, donuts and drinks I have ever enjoyed came from this wonderful little seaside town. Get thee to Portland, seriously. Check out the great bars and restaurants, arcades and speakeasies, if you can find them. Honestly, we spent more time looking for the entrance to Lincoln’s than any other speakeasy, ever. You could make a batch of these drinks, serve them, make some nachos and a second round in the time it took us to get in, if you were really leisurely about things.

This is an equal parts drink, so grab your mixing pitcher and pop in 1 ounce each of rye whiskey, I went with Crater Lake Reserve; that wonderful artichoke based Cynar and sweet vermouth. Add ice and stir well to the beat of “The Evil That Men Do” by Iron Maiden. Strain into a rocks glass over one large, artisanal block of ice; garnish with an expressed lemon peel and a pinch of kosher salt.

Oh, that is nice. Well balanced, the Cynar knocks the edge off that rye, which can be a little hot sometimes. Not too sweet, not too bitter. Campari would be too much here, but Cynar just nails it as a bittering agent to balance that vermouth. Yeah, definitely worth making.

I can only assume that the drink gets it’s name from Truman Capote’s non-fiction novel. In Cold Blood was the first of the “true crime” genre and is considered the first non-fiction novel, though there are some arguments about this. It explores the true story of a quadruple homicide committed by two recently paroled convicts. Based on rumors shared by a fellow prisoner, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith sought out a safe filled with cash on the Clutter farm. After taking the family prisoner, they discovered that the safe was a fiction and there was little else of value in the house. In order to leave no witnesses to their failed robbery, they slit the fathers throat before shooting him. They followed this act by killing his wife and two children, each with a single shotgun blast to the head. They killed four people, in cold blood, for a portable radio, a pair of binoculars and less than $50 in cash. The murderers were captured, convicted and executed for their crimes, but the evil they did remained.

A wolf may attack you, to defend it’s pups or to feed, but not from malice. You may die in an avalanche, but the snow bears you no ill will, it is simply nature and bad luck that put you in the wrong place at the wrong time. That is why people are so frightening. Only humans are capable of true evil and we are responsible for it’s existence here. We have the ability to walk away or show mercy, but some choose to destroy. That choice, to intentionally hurt another, that is evil. That capability to choose death over life, harm over caring, is what we should truly fear. Better to not think about that, though. So we choose safe fears, like vampires and ghouls, always aware that the truly dangerous beings are the ones looking back at us from the mirror. Shakespeare was right, as usual, when he said, “Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.” It is all about the choices you make, the things you support and whether you hold others accountable for their choices. Don’t be evil. When you can help, do. When you can’t help, at least do no harm. It’s the least we can do. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay spooky, my friends.