“Halloween on a Tuesday,” griped my friend Sarah. “That’s a long way from the weekend.”
“Call it pre-gaming,” offered friend Kathy. “We’ll do a party at my house with all the kids on the actual day — they can dump and munch while we sip and slurp. But I’m starting on Saturday the 28th at the Hotel Del’s Hallo-wine and Spirits. They’re doing American Horror Hotel as a theme, and I’m going for Best Costume as Carrie Nation.” Tickets run $150, which includes two drink tickets, reception, dinner, and wine tasting. Dinner runs 7–9 p.m., followed by dancing in the Crown Room. 21 and up. I suggested hearing eerie stories while touring the Star of India: October 21 and 28, 6–9:15 p.m. Tickets: $18 for adults, $13 for seniors and students, $8 kids 3–12.
“Trader Joe’s has a Haunted House Cookie Kit [$7.99] that’s kind of like a gingerbread house except it’s chocolate instead of gingerbread. You get your big bag of icing to use as glue like always, and you decorate it with bat- and bone-shaped candies. And, of course, if you get a bag of candy corn, you can go to town. Then, after the kids start twitching from the sugar high, you put them in motion. The Oriental Trading Company has an inflatable witch hat ring toss [$7.49] that we can set up inside, since everything’s soft and puffy and light. Heck, the grown-ups could use it later on after the traditional Halloween cocktails.”
“Ah, yes, the cocktails,” chirped Kathy. “I went to BevMo looking for colored vodkas. They have red Vampyre vodka [$24.99 for 750 ml, $19.99 with ClubBev card]. Just pop it in the freezer so it gets nice and thick. Or if you want to get all fancy, they all have Blavod black vodka [$29.99 for 750 ml, $21.99 with ClubBev card]. It’s infused with a botanical from the bark of the acacia tree, and it’s smooth with some berry notes. In the past, I’ve made their Berry Scari Martini: 1 cup ice, 1 oz. Blavod, 2 oz. cherry juice, shake vigorously, and pour into martini glass before garnishing with blueberries and raspberries. But be warned: it really does turn your tongue black.”
“Ooh, and let’s have dry ice around the bar,” added Sarah. “That’s campy good fun.” I called the San Diego Ice Company (619-688-1999) for info. “If you’re just using it for table decoration, you’ll want to get pellet-size dry ice — about five to ten pounds,” said Anthony. “It costs $1.10 a pound. We give it to you in a paper bag, and the best way to transport it is in a regular cooler. That’s the best way to store it, too — not in a fridge or a freezer, but a cooler. Otherwise, it will always be evaporating. And of course, once you put it out, it will start evaporating in earnest, giving you that smoky look. And if you put it in water, it will give off even more ‘smoke.’ But it will also evaporate faster. I think five pounds of dry ice in water should last you about an hour. And remember, you don’t want to touch it. Wear gloves when you’re handling it.”
As long as I was mixing showy ice and booze, Anthony suggested I consider an ice luge. “The half-size ($75) is good for a small event. It’s technically an ice sculpture, but it’s essentially a block of ice with grooves carved into it at an angle. You put the luge on a table and people pour shots or whatnot through the grooves. The ice chills the drink as it slides along. It weighs about 150 pounds, and we just give you the raw block of ice, so bring a blanket to wrap around it for transport.” Call ahead to order; San Diego Ice Company is open 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Monday–Saturday.
“Are we still doing costumes at our age?” asked Kathy. “Or does the alcohol make us scary enough? Because it might be a good middle ground to have a face-painting table with different spray-on hair colors. GTM in Lemon Grove [619-460-2990] is loaded with facepaint kits [$1.59–$3.99] and cans of colored hairspray [$1.59]. It washes out with one shampoo.”