My husband’s birthday is two days before Halloween; inevitably the events amalgamate and he has an excuse to dress-up in some ghoulish garb. In recent years, he’s been The Joker from Batman, a horned demon, a hatchet man and the Grim-est Reaper.
This year, who knows what he’s got up his sleeve? He asked me to extend a fancy-dress party invite to all our friends, and I did a little half-heartedly, adding ‘fancy dress is certainly not compulsory.’
I’ve never been a great fan of fancy dress, for this reason Hallows' Eve makes my heart sink a little. I don’t mind very well-done fancy dress on other people, it’s just that when I wear it, I lack any credibility and find myself apologising for my shoddy-outfit to those born to shine in frippery and trinkets . The truth is, I just feel silly in fancy dress.
It’s not like I’ve imposed a blanket ban on wearing it to be a party-poop; my arm has certainly been twisted when told I’ll be the only person not wearing it, or if I’m convinced to be part of a fancy dress team (that I can hide behind.)
My husband jokes I’m not into fancy dress because I’m scared my second self will escape and take me over … me and myself are still laughing. As far as fancy dress etiquette goes, I think : never force anyone to wear it and only do it you are good at it.
So, the good thing about having a loved one’s birthday this time of the year is that there’s many delicious and inspiring ingredients for a crisp, Autumnal menu. I’m posting my recipe for a scrumptious Toffee Apple Cocktail that can be served hot or cold (serves 4)
Toffee Apple Vodka Cocktail Recipe (serves 4)
For the toffee syrup, melt 120g of unsalted butter in a saucepan on a low heat with 120g of Muscovado sugar until dissolved. Add 300ml of warm water, a pinch of sea salt, pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon, a split vanilla pod with its scraped-out seeds and three cloves. Bring to the boil and simmer, and keep stirring until the syrup has thickened and glazes the back of a spoon . Immediately take off the heat and strain out the spices. You can easily increase the quantity, and store the syrup in a sterilised wine bottle in the fridge.
To serve a cold version of this cocktail (per person) blend 50ml cooled toffee sauce, 50ml Crystal Head Vodka or any your preference , a couple of ice cubes and 75ml of organic apple juice. Serve with apple slice that’s been soaked in lemon juice.
For the warm version (per person), warm 50ml of warm toffee sauce with 100ml of apple juice in a pan, and stir in 50 ml of vodka before serving.
What’s your view on fancy dress etiquette?
Have a happy Halloween… I’ll leave you with the haunting words of Clive Barker:
“Everybody is a book of blood; wherever we're opened, we're red.”