As far back as I can recall I have loved scary movies. Good and bad, I have watched them since childhood. My my affinity for the macabre comes from my mother. She grew up in a country were death was very much out in the open and my childhood was woven with ghost stories, urban legends, and true-life morbid tales. I had obtained a stimulating education in horror films by the time I was in my early teens. I thought this October would be the perfect opportunity to pay tribute—in cocktail form—to some of my favorite horror films, good and bad!
Exactly how it came about I can’t recall, but at the tender age of eight I got it in my head that I HAD to watch The Shining. We had it on VHS and I must have seen some clip of it. In any event I had to see it and it was one of the first movies my mother said no to. She said it was too grown-up for me, which naturally made me want to watch it that much more. I begged, I pleaded, I bargained. But her answer remained the same.
I was nothing, however, if not persistent in those days. I hounded her for weeks before she finally relented —with one catch. I had to watch it alone. Now, my love for horror films aside I was still terrified when viewing one. I like to have her at my side so I had someone to cower against as I watched through the slits of my fingers. But I wasn’t about to back down from this win. I called her bluff and said fine with the ignorant bravado befitting of my age. I really think she thought I might fold. But I held my ground and later that night I sat down, alone, in the living room, and promptly scarred myself for life.
Never mind that the majority of the film went over my head. I was perceptive enough to pick up on the disturbing nuances Kubrick and the actors brought to the screen. There are plenty of traumatizing moments in the film –scenes that even now I can conjure in my mind’s eye with perfect clarity. Some things you just can’t un-see. Where to begin?
I mean, there’s obviously the woman in room 237. That bathroom scene was unnerving enough to begin with and it shifts into full on horror as Jack catches a glimpse of the women in his lustful embrace. Her flesh rotting away, her sunken eyes, that crazed laugh. The cameras cut from him recoiling in horror to a shot of her rising a la Nosferatu in the tub, then back again. I didn’t even cover my eyes. I couldn’t. I was paralyzed. With a sinking feeling I watch the scene unfold in muted horror. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that I refused to take baths for months after that. Only showers.
The elevators opening in slow motion to unleash a tidal wave of blood is always alarming. Those eerie Grady twins, beckoning Danny to come and play, with blank stares from shadowed-eyes. My god! The first, unexpected flash of their butchered bodies—not long enough to get a precise sense of the scene but enough to comprehend what’s taken place. I could barely process what was unfolding. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew pretty early on I was in over my head.
There’s also the moment when Wendy finds Jack’s “novel”, reading each identical line with eye-widening terror as the weight of the situation sinks in. Or there’s knife-wielding Danny’s high-pitched cries of “REDRUM” and his final race through the frozen labyrinth. Every inch of my body was tense with the fear that he would get caught.
Yes, there are so many scenes to choose from that waited for me every time I closed my eyes that night. Yet oddly enough, the scene that really bothered me—and still does to this day—isn’t one of violence or horror. It’s not particularly startling in the traditional scary movie sense. I didn’t jump or shield my eyes. It’s a quick moment towards the end of the film. A scene that I didn’t fully grasp as a child but for some reason distressed me more than the others. Any guesses?
Near the end of the film, when Wendy is running though the hotel, butcher knife in hand, she encounters a man in a *ahem* compromising position with someone in the most disgusting looking bear mask/suit I have ever seen in my entire life. Something about the repulsive mask (I mean is it a bear? Or a pig? Or a combination of both? Seriously!), the faint grin on tuxedo guy’s face, the strangeness of the whole thing—why am I seeing this, what is happening? Perhaps it was the sexual nature of the scene, or Wendy’s own reaction to the apparition. Whatever the case it was this moment, above all others, that haunts me to this day.
Be that as it may, it’s still my absolute favorite scary movie—one of my all-time favorite movies in general. It’s a far more subtle that the horror films of today but there is something about it that is unnerving, that makes me uneasy, all these years later.
I re-watched it solo on a sunny afternoon recently, to draw inspiration for my first October cocktail. What I ended up creating was what I’m calling The Bloody Old Fashioned. Jack laments to an empty bar that he would sell his soul for a glass of beer and just like that Lloyd appears to expedite his descent into temptation and madness. He ends up ordering a bottle of bourbon and a glass of ice—I took it from there…
I had a gorgeous bottle of Heritage Distilling Elk Rider Bourbon Whiskey I’d been saving for some fall cocktails. I went with an Old Fashioned because it brought to mind the final scene where the camera slowly zooms into a 1921 Fourth of July photo with a beaming Jack Torrance front and center. The blood orange ice cube is of course a nod to the countless blood-filled scenes in the film.
I wanted to change it up a bit more than that and rather than using a sugar cube employed a splash of my beloved bottle of Glossop’s Smoked Sugar Syrup. This stuff is magical! Sweet and smoky, it reminds me of a sugar-laced campfire under the stars and I can’t wait to use it on everything. This is saying a lot considering I don’t have much of a sweet-tooth!
This drink gets sweeter as the ice cube melts and plumes of blood (orange) dance in the amber-colored bourbon. The blend of citrus and smoked syrup is a refreshing twist on a classic drink! It’s perfect for Halloween parties or beating a nasty bout of cabin fever in these coming winter months. I suggest you drink it while watching the film, getting lost amidst the corridors of The Overlook. It’s the kind of cocktail you’ll want to keep drinking forever and ever and ever…
- 2 oz. Heritage Distilling Elk Rider Bourbon Whisky
- 2 tsp. Glossop’s Smoked Sugar Syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- Juice from 1 -2 small blood oranges
- Blood orange slice for garnish, (optional)
- Make the ice cubes ahead of time. Juice the blood oranges and pour into ice cube tray. I only needed one orange for the large ice cube I made. Reserve some of the orange peel or a slice of orange for garnish.
- Combine the bourbon, syrup, and bitters in a shaker and pour into a tumbler over ice cubes.
- Garnish with an orange slice and sip slowly to enjoy! This is the one time it's acceptable to let you ice cube completely melt in your drink!