Magazines and food blogs are bombarding us with pseudo spooky sweet treats and crafty how-to’s for Halloween and Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) while households are stocking up on candy by the bag full to hand out to trick or treaters. Even though ours are all grown up, we still enjoy seeing costumed kids gleefully adding to their sugar haul. October also brings harvest festivals as farmers, from potatoes to grapes, celebrate the culmination of the growing season and, hopefully, a bountiful crop.
Every food seems to have its month in the sun and culinary observances in October include National Pizza Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Pork Month, National Sausage Month, American Cheese Month, and, last but not least, National Chili Month!
Is it a coincidence that October seems meant for beer? All those P’s: pizza, popcorn, pork and I haven’t even mentioned sports yet! For today’s simple = sensational cocktail, you begin with Van Gogh’s Vanilla Vodka and add beer. Not just any ole beer – a seasonal beer such as a pumpkin ale and preferably, one from a fine local craft brewery such as Autumn Maple by The Bruery here in Orange County. Autumn Maple is a California- Belgian Strong Dark Ale- 10% ABV. Brewed with 17 pounds of yams per barrel along with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup, then fermented with a Belgian yeast strain – this is a unique take on the “pumpkin beer” style. Exactly the bold, spicy autumnal flavors you want in an Oktoberfest/Halloween beer float.
October is also heaven for sports fanatics. Especially this last week in October because it is the only time of the year when all four major North American professional sports leagues schedule games; the National Basketball Association generally begins its regular season at this time, the National Hockey League is about one month into its regular season, the National Football League is about halfway through its regular season, and Major League Baseball concludes its postseason with the World Series, which we’ve been watching for the past four nights. Last night’s Game 5 saw phenomenal pitching by the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner with a shutout of the Kansas City Royals.
Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October, which is linked to the European tradition of harvest celebrations and happens to coincide with the Columbus Day here in the U.S. Last but not least, there’s Oktoberfest. The real Oktoberfest is a two-week festival held each year in Munich, Germany during late September and early October. It is attended by six million people each year and has inspired numerous similar events using the name Oktoberfest in Germany and around the world, many of which were founded by German immigrants or their descendants. We have our own at Old World Village in Huntington Beach – 37 years running and outrageously fun: the band Schwaubapower direct from Germany playing traditional German music, Oom Pa Pah music, beer stein holding contests, shot girls, the popular Dachshund races every Sunday and, of course, lots of beer and bratwurst.
Taking a break from biking in Bruges, Belgium – Bike/Barge tour 2011.
Are you thirsty yet? Let’s get back to that beer float!
Add your beer to the Van Gogh Vanilla vodka.
When Van Gogh Vodka contacted me about trying a few of their infused vodkas, it gave me pause because I’m not a fan of flavored vodkas. Most of the ones I’ve had are too sweet and taste artificial. When I read up on the company and their line of 22 vodkas, I acquiesced and requested double espresso and vanilla knowing that these two flavors would be wonderful in fall and winter cocktails. I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised at the authentic flavor of both. There is a reason The Spirit Journal calls Van Gogh Vodka “The best in the flavored vodka business, period.”
The bottles are gorgeous as well, paying homage to legendary Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh with vibrant renditions of his bold, emotional paintings.
Add ice cream. Frothing. Simple. Delicious.
- 1.5 ounces Van Gogh Vanilla Vodka
- 5 ounces Autumn Maple or Pumpkin Ale*
- 1 scoop Vanilla Bean ice cream
- One large round or square ice cube
Place the large ice cube in a highball or tulip beer glass. Pour the Vanilla vodka over the ice cube. Carefully fill 2/3 full with beer. Add ice cream.
*Select a seasonal beer with autumn flavors, preferable a craft beer. I used Autumn Maple from The Bruery in Orange County, CA.
Enjoy for your Oktoberfest or Halloween celebration and come back and visit soon! More inspired seasonal cocktails coming 🙂
Have fun playing with beer and ice cream combinations to arrive at your favorite flavor profile – chocolate porters, brown ales, coconut porters, and milk stouts are naturals.