I might not have the stomach for full on horror (and have been scared out of a nights sleep by Stephen King) but when the nights have either drawn out (there's something deeply unsettling about the hours of half light that constitute a midsummers night in the North) or drawn in something a little bit spooky is fun.
I have a fairly extensive collection of vintage horror stories - or maybe gothic tales is a better catch all title for their general mood - to attest to that belief, and quite a pile to go through at the moment.
I'm currently reading my way through the British Library's collection of werewolf stories, 'Silver Bullets', selected by Emma Dobson. It's excellent, and rather like last years 'Lost in a a Pyramid' (mummies) it has a few surprises. Nothing in it has been especially scary yet (I'm 3/4 of the way through) so it's a perfectly acceptable book to retire to bed with.
It was 'Lost in a Pyramid' that introduced me to Arthur Conon Doyle in gothic mode, and in turn made the OUP's handsome edition of his collected 'Gothic Tales' very timely. It's an excellent rainy day book, especially when it's just getting dark outside.
There's a 'Collected Ghost Stories' of M. R. James in the same series (I love these cloth covers) and whilst I've read some of the obvious ones in other anthologies I really don't know James well enough. What I have read has more than persuaded me that he's just the sort of writer that I like though, so I'm looking forward to becoming better acquainted with him.
I bought Henry Chapman Mercer's 'November Night Tales' on the back of a comparison to M R James - and the general description of him as an eccentric archaeologist, historian, architect, and collector with a love of gothic literature (he sounds great). This edition is published by Valancourt Books and might feature a Transylvanian werewolf - I didn't particularly mean to save it for November, but now November is all but here it's going to the top of the tbr pile.
I've also been dipping in and out of 'Dracula's Brethren', it's edited by Richard Dalby and Brian J. Frost. I've got a few anthologies edited by Dalby, and all of them are excellent. So far 'Dracula's Bretheren' is no exception. These are vampire tales from between 1820 and 1910, both inspiring and inspired by Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'.
It might be that my first drink of choice to go with any of these books would be a reassuring hot chocolate, but as it's Halloween tomorrow it seemed like a good time to try mix up a version of a 'Corpse Reviver'. Possibly because it's such a great name for a cocktail the Corpse Reviver has had several incarnations (it's also a testament to the popularity of the hair of the dog theory - which is a rubbish theory, but is now making me think of werewolves, so that's something), the one I would have liked to try is the N° 1 which calls for 1/4 Italian vermouth, 1/4 calvados, and 1/2 brandy, but I have neither the calvados or the Italian vermouth in the house so it'll have to wait.
The Corpse Reviver N°2 (from the Savoy cocktail book) is Gin based, it specifies Kina Lillet for the vermouth, which is no longer made, but the internet seems happy with a non specific French dry vermouth instead. As liberties have already been taken with the original recipe dropping the dash of absinthe, unavailable for years anyway as well as being a spirit I loathe, doesn't feel to iconoclastic. If you have a Pastis to hand that would be the obvious substitute, I have Kümmel which is more caraway than anise, but at least I like it.
This Corpse Reviver is equal measures of lemon juice, dry vermouth, Cointreau, and gin, with a dash of absinthe/pastis/kümmel all shaken well over ice and strained into a cocktail glass. The kümmel, considering it was only a dash, really makes its presence felt, the vermouth not as much as I expected. There's a strong family resemblance to a Silver Bullet (gin, lemon juice, kümmel) a pleasing balance between sweet and sour, and it's not quite as strong as the name might suggest. Taken in moderation it's also proved effective for reviving me after a tiresome day at work.