7 Tips for Throwing the Ultimate Halloween Bar PartyScare up business with spine-chilling cocktails and eerie entertainment.
Halloween’s not just for kids. The fall holiday gets the grown-up treatment at most bars, which celebrate with incredible decorations, themed entertainment and seasonal treats. But with so much competition on Oct. 31, bar owners need to go above and beyond to draw costumed revelers to their annual bash.
NCR Silver asked celebrity caterer Andrea Correale, founder and CEO of Long Island catering and event design company Elegant Affairs, how bar owners can throw the ultimate party this Halloween. Here are her scary-good tips for cocktails, bites, decor and fun surprises.
Mix up specialty cocktails
A signature cocktail menu is the foundation for a memorable Halloween bar party. Don’t be afraid to get experimental with your libations, said Correale.
“You want to create signature cocktails that are Halloween-oriented or spooky, something that will have a visual wow, as well as being delicious to palate.”
Definitely use a lot of color, said Correale. Berry puree, grenadine, black currant juice and even activated charcoal will give your drinks rich hues and tasty flavors.
“I like to serve drinks that are either very red or black, using an interesting sugar rim in an ominous color, like dark purple, black, silver or gold,” she said.
You can also infuse your ice with some Halloween fun. Freeze plastic spiders and eyeballs into your ice cubes to surprise your party guests, said Correale. Dry ice or liquid nitrogen can also be used to give your drinks a smoky look.
Break out the novelty glasses
It’s not just what’s inside the glass that counts — serving drinks in creative vessels boosts their visual appeal, said Correale. Test tubes, syringes and shrunken head glasses make for fun Halloween shooters. But if you don’t want to purchase a set of novelty glasses, you can use what’s already on hand at your bar.
“We’ve taken regular glasses and adorned them with upscale decals,” she said. “We’ve also used washable paint to add black moons and other designs. Even if you take the time to do 100 glasses, it makes a big difference.”
Bloody marys for Halloween brunch
If you’re open during the day, a bloody mary bar is a great way to give brunch or lunch the Halloween treatment. Correale offered recipes for her three favorite Halloween options, which she recommended serving as flights in test tubes on ice:
- Drizzle the inside of test tubes with Sriracha, add bloody-mary mix and vodka
- Put a blue-cheese-stuffed olive in the bottom of the test tube, add bloody-mary mix and vodka
- Mix fresh lemon juice, bloody-mary mix and vodka
Make it even more fun by letting your guests choose from a variety of garnishes, like shrimp skewers and bacon, she said.
Serve seasonal finger foods
Offering complimentary finger foods will satisfy guests and elevate the appeal of your Halloween bar party. Correale suggested using seasonal ingredients and bright colors.
“Focus on light bites that scream Halloween,” she said. “You can use natural black charcoal in pizza dough to make a Halloween-themed veggie pizza. Or, you could do mini bowls of black-and-white striped tortellini.”
Soups can also be a surprising hit at Halloween bar parties, said Correale, especially if they’re served in a single-sip size.
“Serve butternut squash soup in mini pumpkins, or even hot tomato soup with grilled cheese on black pumpernickel bread to give it a spooky feeling.”
Set a spooky mood
Certain decorations, like jack-o’-lanterns, spider webs and skeletons, are par for the course this time of year. But less obvious touches can go a long way to setting the mood at your bar this Halloween.
“As far as lighting goes, you definitely want to change it up,” said Correale. “Switch out your lightbulbs to wash the room with orange or red lighting. You could also turn off a lot of lights and get big candles and lanterns to really crank up the atmosphere.”
Screening horror movies, like “Dracula” or “Bride of Frankenstein,” on your TVs or projection system will give your bar a creepy ambience all night long, she said.
Bring in entertainers
Want to take your Halloween bar party to the next level? Hiring magicians or scary clowns to interact with guests throughout the night will enliven the experience, said Correale.
“Tarot card readers and fortune tellers are another really big draw. If you announce free readings, people will be lining up at the door to your bar.”
For a truly immersive party experience, host a murder mystery on Halloween night. Correale said it’s worth the investment to work with a reputable murder-mystery entertainment company to bring actors and props to your location.
“The actors interact with the audience and move throughout the crowd. I did one for 250 people, and they loved it.”
Give out goodies
Even if you host a costume contest with amazing prizes, some people are still deterred by the idea of dressing up. Get everyone into the spirit of the night by giving out Halloween accessories, suggested Correale. For one Halloween party, she bought tall black witch hats and gave them to guests as they walked through the door.
“When you looked in the crowd after, it was like a ‘Harry Potter’ party scene,” she said.
Goody bags are another great way to make your Halloween party special, said Correale. She recommends filling bags with autumnal treats, like taro root and beet chips, or a deck of cocktail recipes tied with a black ribbon and a swizzle stick. Don’t forget to take advantage of the marketing opportunity by labeling your bag with your bar’s logo.
“Giving guests a little something will leave a lasting impression,” said Correale, and make your bar’s Halloween night one to remember.