21 of the best ways to celebrate Hallowe’en with ghoulish cocktails and fiendish food
While Hallowe’en is often thought of as an American celebration, over the years Britons have come to embrace October 31 as an occasion for dressing up as well as an excuse for some devilishly good food and drink.
While most physical events were called off last year due to Covid restrictions, Hallowe’en is back with a bang for 2021.
Whether you’re looking for a night out at a bar sipping some spooky cocktails, something to do with the kids, or a feast of at home activities, there’s something for everyone.
Here are some of 2021’s highlights…
1. Spooky Hallowe’en Buns in Chinatown, London
In China pumpkins symbolise prosperity and abundance, and they are the inspiration for these Bun House creations. The speciality buns are available in three varieties: Spiced Pumpkin, stuffed with roasted pumpkin, star anise, cinnamon and cloves, the Mummy bun made with black sesame and tahini, and the Ghost bun, filled with sticky toffee custard cream. A mixed box of three can be pre-ordered for £17.40 and collected on October 20 or 27 to be warmed at home, or visit the shop on October 30 and 31 to buy fresh for £5.40 apiece.
2. Thorpe Park Fright Nights 20th Anniversary, Surrey
8-10 and 15-31 October
Rollercoasters, scare mazes, and live shows; this year the theme park is hosting the 20th anniversary of its annual Fright Nights, with more scare actors, experiences, and spooky adventures than ever. There’s plenty of good food and drink to experience too – think bleeding ice cream cookie sandwiches and seven-deadly-sins doughnut sundaes.
Not technically a Hallowe’en event, granted, but this is not one to miss for Harry Potter fans. Explore a recreation of the film series’ famous Forbidden Forest and encounter magical creatures such as Hippogriffs, centaurs, unicorns and Nifﬂers. After completing the 60 minute trail, visit the seasonally themed village where you can purchase a cup of Butterbeer, edible wands, decadent hot chocolate, mulled wine, as well as pasties and fish and chips. Tickets from £19pp
Marking the annual Mexican fiesta where families come together to celebrate their dearly-departed, the Wahaca chain is decking out its restaurants in traditional papel picado (cut paper decorations) and handmade altars inspired by the traditional family ofrendas set up in homes across Mexico each year. For the duration of the festival, you’ll be able to enjoy La Ofrenda, a limited-edition cocktail created with Gran Centenario tequila shaken with pomegranate, lime, and triple sec.
Situated in Leeds’ iconic Queens Hotel, Grand Pacific restaurant is hosting a high-tea menu starring pumpkin macaroons, s’mores, cinnamon scones and lemon tarts shaped like eyeballs. There’s also a spooky cocktail with a gummy eyeball garnish which can only be ordered for the length of this event.
This Halloween Ardbeg distillery is taking three of its famous smoky single-malts on the road. Partnering with artisan ice cream makers, Ruby Violet, visitors to their haunted ice cream truck will be able to sample whisky-infused ice cream delights such as the ‘Cookies & Scream’ featuring Ardbeg Wee Beastie ice cream sandwiched between charcoal cookies, coated in (optional) crunchy mealworms, or the ‘Ahhh, No!’, a bar Bar of Lapsang Souchong ice cream with an Ardbeg An Oa caramel centre coated in white chocolate. Tickets cost £10 and get you a 45 ice cream tasting and a cocktail.
Celebrating its 10th birthday this year, Mancunian pub The Oast House becomes The Gh-oast House for Hallowe’en. Drinkers and diners will be able to enjoy all their favourite pub fare in a huge outdoor tipi, decorated in full Day Of The Dead style, to experience a slice of Mexico in Manchester.
Luxury supper club creators, Dinner Ladies are flexing their devilish sides with this limited-time Halloween supperclub. Diners will enjoy a seven-course tasting menu with dishes themed around each of the seven deadly sins. Only 40 guests per evening can attend and while dietary requirements are catered to, menus are strictly underwraps, so you won’t find out what you’re eating until your plate is placed before you.
Both the Marylebone and Knightsbridge outlets of this London pizzeria are going mad for Hallowe’en this year, with themed menus. Try pumpkin arancini served with parmesan and truffle sauce to start, before tucking into a pumpkin-topped pizza and a side of ‘spooky’ fries. These ghoulish dishes can be accompanied by bottomless champagne and limited edition spooky cocktails.
7 Paddington St, London W1U 5QH or 32-34 Hans Cres, London SW1X 0LZ; crazypizza.com
10. Pumpkin Carving Masterclass with cocktails, London
28 and 30 October
In the age of Instagram, a classic pumpkin with a crooked smile or fangs is hardly enough to earn plaudits. If you’re looking to up your carving game get down to Bluebird Chelsea and White City which are hosting carving masterclasses with floral designers Blooming Haus. Priced at £35pp, be given a pumpkin to carve and served a cocktail from the bars’ partner for the season, Cointreu, including Purple Margarita, Breakfast Martini, and Cointreau Fashioned. If you develop a taste, all the cocktails are available in the Halloween-decorated bars terraces afterwards.
350 King’s Rd, London SW3 5UU and Television Centre, Wood Ln, London W12 7FR; bluebirdcafe.co.uk
11. Spooktacular Hallowe’en Lock-Ins at Bird and Blend, nationwide
Bird and Blend is hosting special after-hours tasting sessions of its yearly ‘spooky’ tea blends. Hosted by the tea mixologists, guests will enjoy tastings of the Indie PSL (Pumpkin Spiced Latte), Black Magic Matcha, and ‘Goth Lattes’. Tickets cost £10 which include a tea cocktail on arrival, along with a £10 voucher to spend during the evening.
The South American restaurants, in London’s Mayfair and Angel Court, will take guests on an immersive journey through the spooky Amazon rainforest. On 28 October, Coya RITUAL will be a Hallowe’en party at the Mayfair outlet, then both restaurants will host a Hallowe’en-themed brunch on 30 October (£95pp including a bottle of champagne to share) and parties featuring DJs and dancers from the Peruvian forest in the evening (£75pp).
If you’re looking for a good old-fashioned knees-up you could do worse than Piano Works’ ‘Dead Ringer Singer’ Hallowe’en parties which bring back favourite musicians from beyond the grave, brought to life by SingEasy’s West-End-trained singing waiters. Of course, it wouldn’t be a party without a themed cocktail, so be sure to order a Scare-tini.
Despite its esteemed history as the former epicentre of London journalism, Fleet Street is best known for the murders committed by (fictional) barber Sweeney Todd, whose victims were turned into best-selling meat pies by Mrs Lovett. Deliveroo is bringing the urban legend to life this Halloween with a pop-up Fleet Street pie shop where you can go and pick up a pie made with ‘human body parts’. Meat and vegan pies are available, though whether you consider ‘bone’, ‘thumb’, and ‘eyeball’ varieties, vegan is up to you. Best of all, pies are free, you pay by screaming at the cashier as loud as you can.
62 Fleet Street, Temple, London, EC4Y 1JU
15. Spooky Skylight Rooftop Party, London
London’s largest rooftop bar experience at Tobacco Dock is known for its seasonal events and activities and Hallowe’en is no different. This year the venue’s heated and covered igloos will be spookily dressed for a Saturday night party. All guests will be given a themed cocktail on arrival (the Blackdeath, starring Olmeca Reposado, lime juice, honey, blackberries, rosemary and soda water), ahead of a full costume parade, prizes for the best dressed, outdoor games, and DJs all evening, plus the customary cocktail bar and street food concessions to purchase from. Tickets £15pp and the igloos can be booked for £150 for up to 10 people.
A distillery tour with a difference. Starting at Stirling distillery, located in the shadow of the 12th-century castle, you’ll be treated to a tasting of three different drams of gin and whisky, and enjoy a bespoke cocktail. Afterwards, you’ll be whisked off on a tour around Stirling Old Jail where the terrifying tales from David of Stirling Ghost Walks are sure to give you goosebumps.
17. Jack The Ripper Tour at Discount Suit Company, London
An East London Hallowe’en institution; once again the Discount Suit Company bar is partnering with London Walks for a Jack The Ripper Tour, complete with cocktails. For £20pp, guests will enjoy an hour and a half walking tour around London’s East End where the Ripper’s famous murder spree took place, provided with a complimentary hot punch to get things started. After the tour finishes, walkers can take 25 per cent off their bill if they want to sample any of the bar’s cocktails.
Hallowe’en at home: the best hampers, tricks and treats to order
If you’re hosting a party or just looking for some snacks while you await trick-or-treaters, here are a few ideas.
1. Treat yourself to a Hallowe’en hamper
Devon Hampers were launched during the pandemic to enable two Devon businesses to keep their staff working after hotels closed. This year there are two special Hallowe’en hampers filled with exclusively Devon and Cornish produce. For the kids, try the sweets hamper with Kernow Chocolate, jelly beans and gourmet popcorn. Adults might prefer the grown-up version with Cornish tea and coffee, handmade Devon fudge, and a bottle of Tamar Tipple toffee and apple rum liqueur. Hampers start from £9.95 and are available for nationwide delivery.
2. Host a Hallowe’en murder mystery with your own private chef
Private chef service yhangry has created three bespoke Hallowe’en menus of ghoulish gastronomy. Book a chef to create ‘Dracula’s Dinner Reception’, ‘The Haunted Dinner Party’ or ‘A Monstrous Feast’ and they’ll come to your home, cook the meal for you, and even clean up afterwards, starting at £25.80 per diner. In addition, yhangry are collaborating with The Digital Murder Mystery Co to offer, for an additional £6 a head, a murder mystery experience for diners to solve, all revolving around a monster’s ball where the only human on the premises has been found murdered…
3. Limited-edition tricky treats from Crosstown Doughnuts
This year’s Crosstown Hallowe’en doughnuts include black cocoa sourdough filled with homemade raspberry jam and topped with a dark berry glaze. If you’re hosting a Hallowe’en party consider a ‘Trick or Treat’ box (from £62.95) which contains 15 dough bites, 18 or 36 cookies, and the option of adding speciality drinks such as craft beers by Mondo Brewing Company and Forest Road Brewery Co, wines from St. John, or Gusbourne English Sparkling Rosé. Perfect for a spooky night in. crosstown.co.uk/halloween/
4. Make some spooky bakes with the kids
If your little ones are off to a Hallowe’en party this year and want to take some favours, why not bake them from scratch? Britain Loves Baking has created a variety of family-friendly baking kits from Caramel Zombie Brain Chocolate cakes to Creepy Eyeball Cookies. Boxes cost £9 and contain all the dry ingredients you need to make and decorate your bakes. britainlovesbaking.com/collections/halloween