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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Scary Sweet: Your Definitive Halloween Candy and Spirits Pairing Guide

Gird your loins – the average American consumes 24 pounds of candy each year, a huge portion of that coming at Halloween. Problem is there’s always so much of it leftover, which you might feel compelled to snack on, bake with, or pass on to unsuspecting co-workers. This year make your candy crush a little more compelling with these 10 spirits and candy pairings. (NOTE: This article first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter)

Skittles w/ Caliche White Rum: Skittles has a rainbow of flavors (actually they’re all pretty indistinguishable) but the sugary citrus of the Skittles is balanced out by the semi sharp alcohol of this rum (Cindy Crawford’s other half Randy Gerber is co-owner), which offers its own subdued citrus and lemon punch when consumed after the Skittles. It’s a like a happy citrus explosion.

Butterfinger w/ Cointreau: Butterfinger’s brown butter and chocolate crunch with toffee is widely known, so the orange notes of the Cointreau boost the simple flavors of the Butterfinger to a bit more sophisticated level. The viscosity and creaminess of the Cointreau works with the aggregate nature of the Butterfinger and the sweet alcohol suppresses the sweet of the candy.

York Peppermint Patty w/ Ketel One Vodka: The sheer potent mint of the York patty fills the palate and like a good chaser the Ketel One, with a hint of its own minty background, provides a citrusy counterpoint, muting the mint and allowing the resin and eucalyptus flavors of the vodka to come through. This combo is pretty much seamless flavors as if they were made for each other.

Milky Way w/ Tap 357 Maple Rye Whiskey: Milky Way bars have been around since 1923 and everyone knows they are gooey caramel, nougat and milk chocolate. By contrast this new Canadian-made maple whiskey with its substantial maple and rye bourbon notes compliments the multi-flavored bar while the slightly sharp pinch of the rye balances out and partly cuts the caramel in the Milky Way.

Candy Corn w/ Pernod Absinthe: The clear leader in terms of Halloween candy (some 20 million pounds of candy corn are sipped into kid’s bags) the unique sugary triangle shaped corn nearly replicates the essence of the absinthe. The licorice notes of the “green fairy” (sans wormwood) stabilizes the one note flavors of the corns We suggest a sip of the slightly chilled absinthe first, then pop the candy corn for a truly peculiar but intriguing combination.

Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups w/ FEW Bourbon Whiskey: 

No matter the shape it takes everyone loves Reese’s to pieces. This bourbon whiskey offers deep penetrating citrus and wood notes, and accents the peanut butter and chocolate. The slight peat and char in the FEW makes a palate sensation both savory and tingly, and the sugary nature of the candy is cut by the Few making this the most.

Peeps w/ Aga-Vie: The citrus sweet of this unusual distilled agave (tequila but we can’t call it that since it’s made in France) and cognac blend offers subtle notes of resin, mint and orange. The Peeps are surprisingly not overtly sugary-sweet but you do get the marshmallow and the aggregate sugar granules on top of this candy, but it's a basic flavor, which is why the Aga-Vie works so well because its own sweetness actually highlights your Peeper.

Wax Lips w/ Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur: The overtly sweet liqueur, best used as a cocktail mix given its ripe and potent cherry, is the counter point to the subdued strawberry/cherry-ish perfume chewing gum flavor of the (surprisingly soft) voluptuous lips. And frankly after this paring who wouldn’t want to kiss you? You’ll smell fabulous.

M & Ms w/ JR Ewing Bourbon Whiskey: You can't not love M&Ms but the reality is that they are pretty basic sugar and chocolate concoctions. So the smoky citrus oaky resin of this bourbon inspired by the Dallas TV character, and actually made in relationship with Warner Brothers, pulls down the sugar from the M&M's but also highlights the sweetness of the bourbon with a muted rye back note.

Apple w/ Calvados Boulard VSOP: The old standby, the apple (yes real fruit) is not as common as it used to be, but you still might get this witches’ favorite in your basket. If so the sweet crisp nature of the apple sets up the palette for the softness of this apple brandy as the alcohol mitigates the texture of the apple. The VSOP contains a balance between vanilla and apple compote and the real apple and apple distillate blend together seamlessly.

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