Skip the Plain Champagne on New Year's Eve and Mix Up Some Bubbly Cocktails Instead

By: 
A.J. Rathbun

I would never turn down a glass of straight Champagne, sparkling wine, prosecco or any of their bubbly relations (well, almost never). If you were to invite me over for New Year’s Eve and serve nothing but bubbles, I’ll happily consume it. However, if you are throwing an end-of-year shindig, and want it to be remembered as the best New Year’s Eve party ever, then you need to take your drink offerings to the next level. Sparkling wine works well as one of ingredients (and it matches the festive nature of the season), but you can certainly get a little more creative on the drink itself. To help get you started on a signature sparkling cocktail for the big night, here are four recipes from Champagne Cocktails: 50 Cork-Popping Concoctions and Scintillating Sparklers.

French 75

After spending a few years off the drinker’s map, this classic has made a well-deserved comeback. Its continental mingling of gin, bubbly and lemon make it a surefire crowd pleaser.

Ice cubes

1 ounce gin (I think Plymouth gin here matches the above description)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
Chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine
Lemon slice

1. Add one or two ice cubes to a flute glass. Add 1 ounce gin, 1/2 ounce lemon juice, and 1/2 ounce simple syrup. Stir happily.

2. Top off the flute with Champagne and a lemon slice.

A Note: If your sparkling wine is well-chilled, feel free to omit the ice cubes. But this one should be cold.

The Seattle Youth
This is actually a modification of the Happy Youth recipe from the book, subbing in the tasty Cherry Bounce liqueur (from the Old Ballard Liquor Company) for Cherry Heering. The drink still serves as a great last-night-of-the-year reminder that we can be youthful at any year in life-even if it’s just for a night.

Ice cubes

1 ounce Cherry Bounce liqueur
1-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce Simple Syrup
Chilled extra-dry rosé sparkling wine 
                    

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the Cherry Bounce, the orange juice, and the simple syrup. Shake youthfully.

2. Strain the mixture into a flute glass. Top with the sparkling wine.

Esteem

The fact that this drink has a lovely and intriguing flavor, thanks to the simple-but-bold combination of ingredients, will show your guests that you hold them in (wait for it) high esteem.

Ice cubes
1 1/2 ounces gin (go Voyager gin here)
1/2 ounce Meletti anisette
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Chilled brut Champagne

1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin, anisette, and lime juice. Shake while smiling.

2. Strain into a two flute glass and fill almost to the rim with chilled Champagne.

Regent’s Punch
If you’re having a group over and want to go the punch route instead of making individual drinks, try this classic. It dates back at least to Jerry “The Professor” Thomas’ Bar-Tender’s Guide from 1887. The punch takes a bit of preparation, but the results are worth it.

Serves 10 to 12
3 lemons
12 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
10 ounces Simple Syrup
16 ounces hot green tea (2 cups)
12 ounces brandy
6 ounces dark rum (Jamaican rum is tradition)
4 ounces orange curaçao
1 block of ice (or cracked ice, but don’t feel royal about it)
Two 750-milliliter bottles chilled brut Champagne
2 cups pineapple chunks, for garnish
2 oranges, cut into slices, for garnish

1. Peel the lemons, working to get as little of the white pith as possible. Place the peels, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a large punch bowl that can stand the heat.

2. Pour the hot green tea into the punch bowl. Stir well, and let it cool.

3. Add the brandy, rum, and orange curaçao. Stir again, and let sit for few minutes (you want to make sure it’s cooled down).

4. Add that block of ice, or a goodly amount of cracked ice, and then pour the Champagne into the bowl, slowly and surely.

5. Add the fruit garnishes, stir, and serve immediately in punch cups or other regal glassware.

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