As the trick-or-treaters hit the streets this October 31st, don’t think that all the fun has to be left to the kids. When it comes to a more grown-up Halloween, there’s nothing better than settling down with some fine spirits – of both the ghoulish and the gin variety!
We’ve gathered together some of the UK’s spookiest ghost stories to make your blood run cold…and then paired them with some terrifyingly delicious cocktails to help warm it up again. Mix, drink and be scary!
The White Lady of Washington Old Hall, Sunderland
Washington Old Hall, not far from Poetic License’s Sunderland distillery, is a picturesque stone manor house, which was the ancestral home of George Washington, first president of the USA.
While the Washingtons left their Sunderland home in 1656 to set sail for the New World, there is one resident at the property, now in the hands of the National Trust, who simply can’t be shifted.
The house’s spectral White Lady is most commonly sighted in the Panelled Room, which was formerly the private chamber of the lord of the manor and his family. The ghost, who is often accompanied by a sudden drop in temperature and the strong smell of lavender, sometimes appears sitting on a chair, sometimes walking around the room and even through the walls.
On one occasion, a wedding party who had held their nuptials at the Hall were spooked to find that all the photos taken in the Panelled Room came out with flashes and balls of glowing light floating in them – although nothing unusual had been noted when they were taken.
The optional egg white here imparts a smooth, silky texture but if you’re not keen, then feel free to leave it out.
25ml Cointreau (or other triple sec)
15ml freshly squeezed lemon Juice
½ fresh egg white (optional)
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. If using egg white, shake without ice first to create a thick foam. Add ice, shake and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with lemon peel.
The Bloody Hand of Condover Hall, Shropshire
This Elizabethan manor near Shrewsbury is said to have been cursed by an innocent butler, who was wrongly executed for the murder of his master, Lord Knyvett.
It was in fact Lord Knyvett’s own son who committed the murder – the story goes that, as the victim stumbled away from his attacker down the basement steps, he reached out a bloodied hand, leaving a mark on the wall that couldn’t be removed by any means. The hand-print eventually had to be chipped out of the brick.
After the murder, the treacherous son testified against the butler, condemning him to death. As he was about to be hung, the butler uttered the words: “Before heaven I am innocent, though my master’s son swears me guilty. And as I perish an innocent man, may those who follow my murdered lord be cursed.”
Locals believe the curse still hangs over Condover Hall, which is also said to be haunted by a range of ghostly figures, disembodied footsteps and mysteriously slamming doors.
25ml sweet vermouth
25ml blood orange juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a tumbler filled with ice. Garnish with a slice of blood orange.
The Spectral Woman of Wasdale Corpse Road, Cumbria
So-called ‘corpse roads’, which can be found in rural spots across the country, were used in centuries past to transport the dead to a designated ‘mother church’ that had been granted rights to perform burials.
Unsurprisingly, these roads have spawned innumerable tales of ghosts that haunt their lengths. One such tale relates to a corpse road in Wasdale, Cumbria, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman tied to a horse. The story goes that this is the mother of a boy who died and whose body was lost when the horse that was transporting it along the corpse road bolted into the mist.
By the time the son’s body had been recovered and given a full Christian burial, the distraught mother had tragically died of grief. While her own body was travelling along the same road the horse once again bolted, this time into a blizzard, and was never found again. The mother’s spirit is said to continue to haunt the Wasdale Corpse Road, unable to rest until she finds the son she believes wasn’t properly buried.
Corpse Reviver No. 2
25ml Cointreau (or other triple sec)
25ml Lillet Blanc
25ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with lemon peel.