You’ll find plenty of Hallowe’en ales on the market in the run up to October 31st, so make sure you stock at least one for the night.
I am sure there are plenty of dark red cocktail recipes you can find (my favourite from the website is the Jelly Bean) to make up in pitchers/jugs to either give away or sell. The trick to making them into a witches’ brew is to make some squidgy edible eyeballs up to garnish the drinks.
Buy some canned lychees (a 200gm tin will give you 15 – 20 pieces of fruit) and some fresh blueberries. Take a blueberry and insert it into the hole in the middle of the lychee and then thread the lychee/blueberry onto a cocktail stick firmly fixing both fruits. Now back to the red food dye – using the same techniques as above draw some blood shot veins onto the lychee. Result? Eye of Newt or whatever else you want to call it.
To get you started here’s a free pdf to download with some 5 Hallowe’en Cocktails
Top Tip – if you’re offering a punch bowl, the night before your party, fill a few latex gloves with some filtered water, tie them up like you would a balloon and freeze overnight. Float in punch bowl.
Fancy Dress & Entertainment
Hallowe’en, is of course, the ultimate fancy dress occasion and as we all know people love an excuse to dress up so make sure part of your pagan festivities are fancy dress oriented. Customers and staff alike will relish the opportunity to raid their dressing up boxes and you should be careful to reward them.
Firstly, make sure that every costumed reveller is offered one of your free scary cocktails, it’s the least you can do and is your first opportunity to thank them for their efforts and more importantly for their continued custom.
Secondly offer up at least three good prizes for your fancy dress competition (if you’re running one) – remember some of your customers will really go to town on their costumes and I have known some who have spent significant amounts of time and money on their monstrous creations. I can’t tell you how much to spend on prizes, just suffice it to say if you skimp on them you’ll not be remembered favourably and remember cash prizes are a pretty safe bet, especially if they end up being spent over the bar.
Thirdly make sure you have a program mapped out before the night, be it quiz, fun & games, disco or whatever, plan it out and ensure all your staff know what is happening and when.
Another way of rewarding your customers (even those who don’t go the whole hog and dress up) is to run a “bran tub”. In effect, an opportunity to win small and large prizes every time they buy a drink, for instance. A bag of cheap plastic fangs, some bags of sweets, a few free shots / pints and then some Hallowe’en related prizes such as DVD’s won’t break the bank but will be remembered as your pub going the extra mile for its customers.
Top Top – don’t forget the freebies you will be offered by some suppliers or brand owners for purchases made prior to Hallowe’en should be freely distributed (forget whatever mechanic the supplier/brand owner demands – you are promoting your pub brand not their drinks brand). No customer wants to have to collect umpteen tokens from purchasing the drinks they would already have bought just to get a tee-shirt or a key-ring … give them away! As with any bran tub there should always a fair quantity of non-winning tickets, after all, your pockets aren’t bottomless (something customers need to be reminded of from time to time).
Fun & Games
Any good party, as we will all remember from our respective childhoods, will include some fun and games and your Hallowe’en party should too. If you can, be the Master of Ceremonies (MC) yourself, if you can’t then appoint a well known customer or if you have one a resident DJ or Quizmaster. You’ll need an MC for several of the games and activities listed below.
Even though your customers may be regular or locals, as often is the way in pubs, sets of customers don’t necessarily know each other well beyond being nodding acquaintances. To break the ice and introduce customers to each other try borrowing an idea from the nightclubs – “shag tags” – nothing improper I promise you. Make up a list of couples from history, film and literature (preferably with a Hallowe’en or horror connection) and write down the names, here are a few examples to get you going:
- Frankenstein & The Bride of Frankenstein
- Buffy Summers & Angel
- King Kong & Fay Wray
- Lucrecia & Gomez
- Batman & Catwoman
- The Mummy & Queen Nefertiti
Get the idea? Now make up some self-adhesive labels with the individual names written on them and as customers arrive for the party randomly label them (or if you know customer sets well enough mix them up a bit) and tell them to find their “other half”. As a prize they should return to the bar with their respective partners to claim a free drink (perhaps one of your cocktails) or report to the MC for a drinks voucher. Make sure the list of partnerships includes some really obscure ones as well as a smattering of really easy ones to keep things interesting and accessible for the majority of your customers. I have always found this to be a fun way to get a party off to a flying start and sometimes leads to new friendships being established, which, is always a good thing.