The Thirteen Drinks of Halloween 2020 – Twelve

We are almost home and I have been looking forward to making this drink since we began. In fact, this is the drink that inspired me to take a shot at a Halloween series of drinks. It has the right look, the right ingredients and the right feel. This is what I have been looking for, a cocktail with class, created especially for the season. So, please join me now as we stand and make the elegantly understated, Vanished in the Dark.

This drink was created in 2017 by Ivo Peshev from the Flair Project, an LA based beverage consulting firm. This drink was imagined as an answer to all of the things wrong with Halloween drinks that we have explored in this series. As he says, “Halloween cocktails look like something my friends and I went crazy about when we were ten rather than a cocktail I would be intrigued by in my 30’s.” We have definitely seen that over the last couple of weeks. Hopefully, the Flair Project has found the answer to our seasonal cocktail woes, let’s make it and find out.
This one has a little bit of prep before you can get started, but at least you don’t need to begin yesterday in order to drink tonight. The first ingredient we need is Lapsang Souchong infused bourbon. This only takes an hour or two to make, so choose a suitable bourbon, I went with the end of a bottle of Gentleman Jack and add 1 teaspoon of Lapsang Souchong tea for every cup of bourbon you wish to infuse. Let that sit for about an hour before testing. You should get a nice dark color, nearly black with a strong smoky aroma. If you feel like you are there, we are ready to go, if not you can add a little more tea and more time. Depending on your tea and bourbon choices, your mileage may vary, so find something you like. While you are waiting, go ahead and brew a cup of this amazing smoky tea. Same measurements, 1 teaspoon per cup of boiling water, let steep five minutes and enjoy, I like mine with honey. I had heard of this one, but never tried it and I am in love with it now. Of course, that makes sense with my love of mezcal and Islay scotch. Colin Hay loves it too, as evidenced by the second verse of “Beautiful World“.

Now we are ready, so grab your tins and pop in 2 ounces of your Lapsang Souchong infused bourbon, 3/4 of an ounce of Creme de Mure blackberry liqueur, Chambord might also be nice here; 1/2 an ounce of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 3/4 of an ounce of egg white or aquafaba and 1/2 a teaspoon of activated charcoal. Add ice and shake hard to the beat of the My Chemical Romance classic “Welcome to the Black Parade“. When the big guitars begin to scream in unison, discard the ice and go for a reverse dry shake, to get that egg white really going. Strain over ice into a collins glass, top with orange La Croix and garnish with some of those beautiful Lapsang Souchong tea leaves.

First off, the color did not turn out as expected. Their version was pretty dark but with clarity. I ended up with a muddy grey. Probably due to different activated charcoal and perhaps my egg white muddied the drink. Still, it is pretty, just not as pretty as the one they made for their amazing photos. Just serve it in a low light setting and call it good. The taste is nice, I really love that smoky tea pushing through. I’m not as crazy about the mouthfeel, the charcoal adds a little grit that gets suspended in the drink. It’s not bad, just not my thing, you may love it. I did find the charcoal settled quite a bit, making a straw problematic. I made it a second time without the charcoal and enjoyed it more, but it was less pleasing to the eye. I might swap in squid ink for a more consistent color with less texture. 

There you go, for our penultimate drink, we hit on something dark and elegant, with layers of flavors and mouthfeel. This is closer to what I was hoping for when this all began. For a small party with suitable mood lighting, where you can take the time to make individual drinks, this one will be a hit. It is beautiful and tasty, plus they haven’t had anything like this on their local menus; probably. Who knows, maybe this is a thing now. I know I love the use of the tea infused bourbon and honestly, discovering this deliciously smoky tea is reward enough. Plus, we got to rock out to Black Parade, so that’s worth something. Make this one, even if you don’t have any activated charcoal. There are some concerns about ingesting charcoal in larger doses, mainly from its ability to bind to toxins and remove them from your body, including some drugs you may be taking on purpose. So make sure you aren’t taking anything that it adversely affects before having a few of these. It’s a small risk, but worth noting and a non-issue if moderation is your thing. As always, stay safe, stay hydrated and stay spooky, my friends.