Let’s imagine that it’s already Halloween, you have your patio lights up and a few carved gourds on the porch, and the important question lingering in the fall air is: what on earth are you going to be serving to your thirsty, be-costumed guests?
Grog, fellow drinkers. Go with grog.
Because there is no better complement to a night dripping with zombie anythings and sexy everythings than a drink whose last true heyday was in the Dark Ages.
The following is actually something of a cross between grog and mulled wine, but no one will care, and it will be delicious and warm, and your guests will wrap themselves around many a mug over the course of your fabulous party.
Bonus authenticity points if you serve it in chalices and provide only long-haired dogs in place of napkins.
You’ll need some dry ingredients:
3-4 pieces whole star anise
1-2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange (specifically, the whole rind)
(optional) vanilla pod
(optional) spoonful of cloves
And you’ll need some alcoholic ones:
A bottle of full-bodied wine (Cabernet or Merlot—Charles Shaw is a lovely choice)
Spiced rum (Sailor Jerry's or Captain Morgan, for the spicy version)
Cointreau (for the sweet one)
Empty your bottle of wine into a pot and put it on the lowest heat possible. We mean low.
Combine your dry ingredients in the cheesecloth and make a kind of sack by tying it off with string. Place this into the pot.
Heat for about 20-30 minutes. Simmering is okay, but you don't want it to go anywhere near boiling.
After you take the wine off of the heat, add either 4 oz of spiced rum OR 2 oz of Cointreau (former if you like it spicy, latter if you like it sweet. We prefer it spicy). Add more to taste. (We like to add more.)
Garnish with fresh orange peel.
Final word to the party-wise: if you have a crock pot, just keep the wine in there on low heat during your shindig and make new batches as necessary. The cheesecloth sack of spices will smell delightful afterwards, too, so you can get creative with what you do with it!