Champagne and celebration go hand-in-hand. Never more so than on New Year’s, when sparkling wine steals the spotlight all to it itself. Even those that don’t normally indulge feel compelled to lift a glass. But here’s a dirty little secret the Champagne folks don’t want you to know: you don’t need a bottle of bubbles to bring the ruckus. There are plenty of vivacious victuals willing and eager to be raised as the ball drops. Here’s how a few notable bartenders from California to Copenhagen get the party started with nary a popped cork.
At Kokkedal Castle, part of the Small Luxury Hotels brand in Denmark, barman Alexander Steinarsson is used to keeping things lively during the winter season. Patrons rely on his expert hand to provide reprieve and warmth; sheltered from the constant shiver of Scandinavia. He uses Chambord and bourbon as a way to keep things festive this time of year. “Drinks for the cold months in Northern Europe — for me, personally — mean something heavier and stronger, with just a little bit of freshness to them,” he explains. “I like one from our menu that mixes the strength of 100 proof Kentucky bourbon [Old Grand-Dad], with a little fresh lemon juice, Chambord, and fresh blueberries, topped with a healthy dash of Angostura bitters. It really brings together everything you need to warm you up.”
Kokkedal Castle on New Year’s Eve
The drink is named after one of the former owners of Kokkedal Castle.
– 6 cl (2 oz) Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon
– 3cl (1 oz) lemon juice
– 2.5 cl (a short 1 oz) Chambord
– dash sugar syrup
– 4 big dashes Angostura bitters
– fresh blueberries
Add all ingredients except blueberries to mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain in a in a rocks glass on ice. Top drink with a few blueberries.
NEW YORK CITY
New York knows a thing or two about New Year’s. The city is the worldwide epicenter of festivities every December 31st. Thomas Waugh runs bar operations at the recently-renovated Pool Lounge in midtown Manhattan. The sleek and stylish bar inside this historic landmark sees its fair share of revelry over the holiday season. When guests want to share the joy with something special, he steers them towards the ‘Raspberry.’
“This recipe is great because it lends itself perfectly to a large pitcher or punch bowl format,” says Waugh. “Grapefruit and tequila are also huge trending ingredients and tequila is just a go-to party liquor. It’s light and refreshing too so you won’t get [too intoxicated] that you pass out before the ball drops.”
Raspberry cocktail from Pool Lounge
This refreshing union of a Blinker and a Paloma cocktail even comes with effervescence. So you won’t be missing those bubbles, after all.
Please note: Recipe has been adapted for both single and punch bowl versions (12 servings), respectively.
– blanco tequila (try Siete Leguas Blanco Tequila) (2 oz or 750ml)
– raspberry purée (.75 oz or 9 oz)
– fresh lime juice (.75 or 9 oz)
– simple syrup (.75 or 9 oz)
– grapefruit juice (.75 or 9 oz)
– grapefruit soda or club soda to top (1 oz or 12 oz)
Combine all ingredients except grapefruit soda. (If single serving, shake in cocktail shaker with ice and strain into ice-filled Collins glass. If punch bowl, stir well. Add large ice block to punch bowl.) Top with grapefruit soda. Garnish with fresh strawberries and grapefruit wedges.
Across the country, high-flying barman, Aaron Polsky of Harvard and Stone is a fervent fan of going large-format for the festivities. If you’re willing to put in a little prep-work— and some edible glitter — you’ll be rewarded in kind. “The day before, combine [a white spirit], simple syrup, and fresh strawberries in a non-reactive container, cover and refrigerate overnight,” he explains. “After straining, it should be pretty pink and smell richly of strawberries. For extra fun, order some edible glitter or disco dust and add it to the punch bowl and watch your guests be amazed at the metallic shimmering cocktails you’re serving them.
Aaron Polsky of Harvard and Stone / Photo Credit: Max Shapovalov
Looking Good, Billy Ray
For strawberry spirit infusion:
– 750mL bottle of gin, vodka, blanco tequila, or white rum (try Caña Brava Rum Blanca)
– 1 pint of fresh strawberries, sliced, hulls removed
– 12 oz simple syrup
The day before, combine the white spirit of your choice, simple syrup, and strawberries in a non-reactive container—cover and refrigerate overnight. Then strain strawberries out.
– Strawberry spirit infusion, listed above
– 12 oz fresh lemon juice (if using vodka or gin) or lime juice (if using tequila or rum), squeezed day-of
– 2 bottles of Champagne
– 2 or 3 large punch bowl ice blocks, made by filling a reusable plastic container with water and freezing overnight
– Angostura bitters
– Edible Disco Dust glitter (optional)
Right before your party, combine the strawberry spirit infusion with the lemon or lime juice and ice blocks. Add edible glitter or disco dust (optional) to the punch bowl. Serve in Champagne flutes. Ladle out to your guests, filling flutes halfway and topping up with chilled Champagne. Add a dash of bitters to each glass.
Makes 25 servings.
If you absolutely can’t pass up the French stuff, here’s one final recipe which figures it in — albeit, dialed down in the presence of a fine Irish whiskey:
Black and Bubbles
– 1 ½ Jameson Black Barrel
– 1 bar spoon sugar syrup
– 3 oz G.H.Mumm Grand Cordon
– 4 dashes of Angostura bitters
– 4 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
Pour Jameson in a highball glass, add the sugar syrup and a lemon twist + a couple of ice cubes, top with G.H.Mumm Grand Cordon, finish with the bitters and stir.
No matter what’s in your glass this New Year’s, make sure to savor the final, fleeting moments of 2017. The folks at Distiller wish you many happy and healthy returns.
Ready to get started on your New Year’s Eve Cocktail?