A while back, in anticipation of America’s Favorite Holiday That Includes Encouraging the Youth of Otherwise Calm Neighborhoods in a Sanctioned Protection Racket, some lady online somewhere put up a list of ideal pairings of wine with Halloween candy.
She got it horribly, badly, wrong. My sweetie, who is exposed to these random “memes” (as the kids call them today) much more than I, decided it was time for someone to do this right. She assembled her crack research team, and off we went to buy booze and candy, focussing on the candy that typically lands in pillow cases and plastic pumpkins between 6 and 8 pm on Halloween night, along with some other iconic candies that appear on the shelves this time of year.
At the booze store, we huddled around the miniatures rack for much of the time, so our shopping cart wouldn’t set off the “Leaving Las Vegas” alarm at the cash register. We loaded up with many, many tiny bottles of booze, some that made me nervous just to look at the labels (marshmallow vodka?), and larger bottles of things that we thought might come in handy on other occasions long after the science was complete.
Oh, and I accidentally chose a very expensive bottle of scotch, rather than the usual rather expensive bottle.
After a pass through Cost Plus to find a few more exotic boozes and brews, we made our way home, pulled out all the stuff, and it started to sink in: science is not always a walk in the park. Doing this important research was going to require dedication, hard work, and more than one fuzzy morning.
With all the different boozes (many in limited quantity) and this array of sugary treats:
We knew it would be impossible (and palette-blowing) to test every possible combination. We leave it to those who follow to continue in the name of Science, and to try combos we may not have considered.
The results are exhaustively (and humorously) presented at Poetic Pinup, including descriptions of why each pairing worked, and links to some of the more obscure beverages.
Science is meaningless if you don’t show how you got to your conclusion. In our case, we often (but not always) started by choosing an alcoholic beverage. We would each take a sip, then scan over the available candy, looking for ones that our palette memories thought might work:
Naturally, we also had to try pairings that had a lower chance of success. (Side note, Skittles make a reasonable palette cleanser between tests.) By stepping outside the obvious we allowed Serendipity to stagger into the party with a package of Sugar Babies in one hand and a bottle of 100-proof cinnamon-flavored schnapps in the other, shouting a little too loudly for the room, “Hey, check this out!”
Tastes diverge, of course, and so while the light of my lab enjoyed Seagram’s Sweet Tea flavored vodka with Hot Tamales, I found the beverage undrinkable, and while I prefer Kraken to Sailor Jerry, the sea monster didn’t tickle the palette of the head researcher (she being the one who actually took notes) and I don’t remember the match I liked for that one. Guess it’s time to get back in the lab!
In the end, however, I was a bit surprised by how often we agreed. Some things simply taste good together.
The highlights for me (in no particular order):
- Jim Beam Honey and Baby Ruth. I didn’t even expect to like Jim Beam Honey.
- Peeps and Absinthe
- Hershey’s Special Dark and Black Russian
- Honorable mention: Crabbie’s Ginger Beer and More Crabbie’s Ginger Beer. Snappy!
There are a couple of things missing from the list, most notably:
- Super-dark high-cocoa-percentage chocolate. I love the stuff, but you won’t find that in a halloween bag in any neighborhood I’ve ever lived in.
- Scotch. Remember that expensive bottle? Yeah, Science doesn’t deserve that much love. Blame government funding cuts.
- Krackle and Crunch bars. The chocolate is different in the two, different enough that they didn’t pair well with booze in different ways, but in the end we just didn’t find a good match for either. Perhaps someone out there can pick up this loose thread.
A final note:
Always the bridesmaid: Kit Kat Bar. It was good with so many things, but there was always some other option that was even better. It was late in the game when we found Kit Kat’s One True Love, but perseverance paid off. But if you’re going to throw a candy-and-booze bash, Kit Kat will play well with a lot of the liquid offerings.