Cocktails for a snowy Halloween

It's a snowy, sloppy Halloween here in the Chicago area.

For some reason, my tart-cherry-infused Russell's Reserve 10-Year made its way up from the basement – maybe the snow has me lamenting the all-too-quick change in seasons, or maybe I'm just looking for a warmer, fuzzier Manhattan, but there you have it.

I've also been a huge fan lately of recent entrant New Riff, despite how rye-forward it is – it's fantastic all by its lonesome, but it also holds its own in a cocktail better than almost anything else I've tried. The price point makes it hard to completely part ways with the likes of Buffalo Trace and Knob Creek as go-to cocktail bourbons, but wow, what a versatile and delicious option.

I managed to pick up a Binny's barrel pick of the stuff, which the liquor store chain describes as, "Polished oak, caramel corn, and citrus opens into flavors of warm butterscotch, black pepper, and cinnamon. Spicy, rye forward finish."  Hmm. What could be more perfect on Halloween than caramel corn?

I know this is a quick post, but I wanted to share a few warm-and-fuzzy cocktail recipes that can stand up to all this snow as you dole out chocolate to the brave young souls seizing the day.

Strange Manhattan

2 oz cherry-infused bourbon*
1 oz Oloroso sherry
Luxardo cherries
Scofflaw BCBS Reserve Bitters if you can find it, otherwise go with Peychaud's

Combine whiskey and sherry over ice in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass and stir. Strain into your choice of glass/chilling mechanism – I like mine in a tumbler over ice, but go with a chilled coupe if you like your manhattans straight-up. If you have the BCBS Reserve Bitters, give it an entire dropper – more is better. Otherwise, a dash or two of the Peychaud's is fine. Garnish with cherries.

* Please, please, do not buy Red Stag. If you can't/won't infuse this yourself, use unflavored bourbon and add some syrup from the Luxardo jar. Seriously, I don't get snobby about much, but artificially flavored booze is pretty close to the top of that short list of pet peeves.

Halloween Apple Toddy

6 oz rye-forward bourbon, or rye whiskey would also work well
2 oz Koval Ginger Liqueur
32 oz fresh apple cider
2 T whole mulling spices
6 cinnamon sticks
Four 12-oz. ceramic mugs

In a saucepan on your stovetop, simmer the apple cider and spices over low heat until hot and fragrant, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, core the apple if you feel like it and slice into cross-sections no more than 1/2-in thick.  Choose your favorite four slices, gently slice a notch in the bottom of each, and perch onto the lip of each mug.

Once time is up, remove the cider from heat, strain out the spices, and divide between the mugs.  Top each with 1.5 oz whiskey and .5 oz Ginger Liqueur, plop in the cinnamon sticks, and give each a stir before serving.