No Halloween-themed party is complete without a large bowl of festive, yet frightening punch made from mysterious ingredients blended together into an enticing brew. Punches can be either nonalcoholic for the kid and teetotaling crowd -- or spiked with vodka or other clear liquor for an adult party.
No better day exists than Halloween to concoct a party punch in a luridly bright hue, such as a blood-red made from pomegranate, cranberry or cherry juice. Alternatively, use grenadine and tropical fruit drink as the base, and add ginger ale or sparkling water plus fresh or frozen fruit to garnish. Mix a purple punch from grape juice concentrate, pineapple juice, sparkling water and sugar or lemon-lime soda and no extra sugar. To make a ghastly green punch, look for powdered drink mixes in the appropriate shade and add pineapple juice and lemon-lime soda. A bright orange punch of orange sherbert, orange soda and orange juice concentrate is also appropriate if not quite as spooky as some of the other choices. You can compensate for this by decorating the punch bowl with plastic spiders, gummy worms and other creepy-crawlies.
Turn any punch into a ghoulish centerpiece by adding ice in creepy shapes. Make an ice hand by filling a powder-free latex glove with water, tying off the top securely, then freezing it. Carefully peel off the glove and place it in your punch bowl. Prepare extras to keep the creep factor steady all night. You can also find ice molds for bones, eyeballs, brains, skulls and fangs. Remember, too, that you can use juice or other colored liquid rather than plain water to make the ice, which increases the scare element.
Here's a scientific punchmaking tip: The quinine that is used to give tonic water its bitter flavor glows when exposed to black light. You can use it to concoct a truly creepy glow-in-the-dark punch for Halloween. Mix lime juice, pineapple juice, orange juice and tonic water together and garnish with sliced fruit, or try substituting tonic for club soda in any punch recipe you choose. You may need to adjust the sweetening to accommodate tonic water's bitterness.
Chemically, dry ice is simply carbon dioxide, frozen solid. For special effects, dry ice is the stuff that magicians, stage managers and haunted houses use to create eerie mist on demand. Using dry ice to add a spooky fog effect to your Halloween punch requires some caution. It's best to sit your punch bowl, filled with punch, inside a larger bowl filled with chunks of dry ice, which will evaporate over the course of the evening. Never handle dry ice with bare hands; use heavy rubber gloves and tongs. And don't add chunks of dry ice to a drink directly, as stray slivers could burn your guests' lips, tongue and throat.