When the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, you will probably be toasting friends and loved ones with a flute of Champagne in honor of another year survived and the prospects that lay ahead.
To make the experience especially memorable, augment your bubbly with some stylish cocktails.
Happy New Year cocktail
This twist on the old Champagne cocktail will have your guests buzzing, literally as well as figuratively. You’ll need:
¼ oz. brandy
¾ oz. ruby port
¾ oz. orange juice
4 oz. Champagne
Add the brandy, port and orange juice to an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into a champagne flute and top with Champagne.
New millennium toast
Granted, we’re only 13 years into the 21st century, but those of us who’ve made it this far still have something to celebrate. This cocktail is a good start. You’ll need:
1 oz. gin
½ oz. cherry brandy
1½ oz. orange juice
Splash of ginger ale
Add the gin, cherry brandy and orange juice to an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and add a splash of ginger ale.
Martinis at midnight
Cocktails should be visually appealing as well as flavorful, and this one is a knockout. It brings a stylishly darker hue to a holiday otherwise characterized by bright and bubbly. To stand out from the crowd, you’ll need:
3½ oz. vodka or coffee vodka
¼ oz. coffee liqueur
Pour the vodka and coffee liqueur into an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
The golden goose
Whether you see it as the end of a successful year or an exciting new beginning, News Year’s Eve is a time to don your finest togs and celebrate with the very best. That should include your beverage choices. For this tasteful concoction, you’ll need:
1 oz. Grey Goose Vodka
Perrier-Jouët Fleur de Champagne
1 fresh raspberry or blueberry
Pour vodka into a champagne flute and top with Champagne. Garnish with fruit and revel in the luxury.
Sometimes it’s just as easy to sparkle without Champagne. Here’s an innovative yet simple recipe that’s likely to surprise your guests. You’ll need:
½ oz. cognac
½ cup sparkling apple cider, chilled
Dash of bitters
Pour cognac into a chilled champagne flute, top the glass with sparkling cider and add a few dashes of bitters.
Cherry brandy spritzer
There is nothing quite like adult “soft” drinks to make the evening more festive. The following recipe, which takes off on the popular Old Fashioned, could be called an Express Cherry Bounce. It can be made with good quality bourbon or dark rum. This recipe serves four and takes some time to prepare. You’ll need:
1 cup brandy (or bourbon or dark rum)
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 cups whole fresh cherries, with stems
2 cups club soda
Heat brandy (or bourbon or rum) for 1 minute or until hot. Stir sugar into liquid until dissolved. Pack cherries into a small, heat-resistant container, then add the alcohol-sugar mixture, making sure cherries are submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 weeks.
When it’s time to serve, fill four rocks glasses with ice, then add 1½ oz. of brandy-cherry mix and top with 4 oz. of club soda. Garnish with 2 or 3 whole brandied cherries. Leftover cherries may be kept for up to 1 month in the refrigerator.
Lemon drop punch
Punches are perennial party favorites, and Champagne or sparkling wine punches are de rigueur at News Year’s Eve parties. The following recipe can serve up to 8 guests. You’ll need:
½ cup sugar
750 ml. (1 bottle) of Champagne or sparkling wine, chilled
¾ cup of high-quality vodka, chilled
4 oz. candied lemon peels
Remove the lemon peel in one long, continuous spiral, then juice the lemons until you have ¾ cup juice. Heat and dissolve the sugar in ½ cup water, add lemon peel and let cool. Combine Champagne or sparkling wine, vodka, lemon juice and sugar-peel mixture in a punch bowl. Garnish glasses with candied lemon peel.
These cocktails should set you on the path for a joyous and prosperous New Year. Or you won’t care. Either way you win.