Ring in the New Year With Three Bubbly Cocktails

Top bars around the country share what they're serving on New Year's Eve.

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New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve

Toasting champagne in front of a Christmas tree.

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com/svetikd

©iStockphoto.com/svetikd

If you’re the type of person who prefers a Negroni to a pint of beer or a Manhattan to a glass of red wine, why should you be stuck with a plain old flute of Champagne for your New Year’s Eve toast? Sparkling wines of all kinds are a versatile and long-celebrated cocktail ingredient, and when you ring in 2018, you should consider a bubbly mixed drink.

“Trying to figure out a Champagne for New Year’s Eve  is really stressful for people who don’t drink it a lot, so a cocktail is a great way to bridge the gap,” says Ashtin Berry, beverage director for Air’s Champagne Parlor and its downstairs sister bar, a sake-focused spot called Tokyo Record Bar, in New York. Berry’s been tending bar for more than 10 years and previously ran Pops for Champagne in Chicago, so she’s been a longtime student of sparkling-wine mixology. “Not just Champagne but really good sparkling wine of any kind can really take a meal to a different level,” Berry says: Acidity and bubbles cut very well through the indulgent, fatty dishes typically served at New Year’s parties and sparkling wine provides both.

Berry’s cocktail, the Indian Summer, is a twist on the Kir Royale, which combines bubbly with a little bit of blackcurrant or raspberry liqueur. It’s a classic, but it’s a bit simple for Berry’s taste. “I was trying to figure out how to have a cocktail for people who want something sweeter but make it a bit more complex,” she says. The drink incorporates Chambord raspberry liqueur, as well as bittersweet Campari and a good slug of earthy and herbal dry vermouth, but the true key is juice from yuzu, an Asian citrus fruit that combines the acidity of lemon with the aromatic complexity of grapefruit and lime. For the Indian Summer, Berry recommends cava, a sparkling wine from Spain (her favorite brands are Bertha, Azimut and Raventos), but whether you use that or true Champagne, go with something labeled “brut nature,” which indicates a very dry wine with no residual sugars. And consider buying a magnum! The 1.5-liter bottles look impressive, tend to go on sale around New Year’s, and because they have the same size neck as a regular bottle but hold twice the volume, they protect from oxygen and keep your bubbly, well, bubbly, for longer.

“I always have Champagne around,” says Alex Barbatsis, bar director for Los Angeles’ Cafe Birdie and the cocktail den in its back room, Good Housekeeping. “I love Champagne cocktails, so any excuse to make one is good for me.” That’s basically the story behind the Carnival of Souls, which is on a The Nightmare Before Christmas-themed menu available every Wednesday from mid-October through the end of this year. Lauren Pool, head bartender at Good Housekeeping, created a Halloween-appropriate bubblegum syrup, which Barbatsis found worked well with tequila, and then topped with Champagne to dry things out. (The syrup itself is unexpectedly simple: Just let plain simple syrup sit with a few pieces of Dubble Bubble for an hour and a half, then strain.) As an extra carnivalesque twist, the drink comes garnished with a tuft of cotton candy, which guests can stir in to add a bit more sweetness.

The key to making a cocktail with Champagne, Barbatsis says, is not to add too much to it. “Keep the sugars, citrus and booze to a minimum, because the Champagne already has some alcohol and some flavors you don’t want to interfere with,” he says. “Sparkling wine is a such a delicate thing that if you add too much to it it can go a little bit crazy.”

Throw a Confetti-Inspired New Year's Eve Party

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All in the Details

On New Year's Eve, no detail is more important than your outfit. Give your ensemble the glamour it deserves by adorning a plain hanger with sequins and letting your garb take center stage. If you're planning to have the girls over to get ready, offer these bedazzled hangers to display each guest's outfit, then give them as commemorative favors.

Photo By: Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

Sequins Hanger

Purchase sequin stretch fabric from your local craft store, then carefully use hot glue to stretch the material over a wooden hanger. Proceed to cut, stretch and glue as needed until the entire hanger is covered.

Photo By: Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

Gold Glitter Hair Accessories

There's no question that accessories can make or break an outfit. Rather than heading to the nearest boutique for the latest trends, create your own hair accessories by giving regular bobby pins New Year's flair with glitter. To make, slide the pins onto the edge of scrap paper to keep them stable. Squeeze a thin line of craft glue along the top of each pin. Sprinkle fine glitter onto the glue, then allow to dry.

Photo By: Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

Don't Lift a Finger

Get festive, glitter nails without the salon. This easy technique can be done at home in a fraction of the time and uses materials that you likely have around the house.

Photo By: Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

Glitter Nails

To get the look, paint nails with one coat of clear polish. While it's still wet, cover liberally with fine glitter. Once dry, shake off your hands to remove any excess glitter, then apply a top coat of clear polish and allow to dry.

Photo By: Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

Embellished Glassware

Embellish your glassware with glitter tape that you can buy at your local craft store. To make, use scissors to cut decorative glitter tape into your desired shapes. Then peel backing and adhere to glassware. When the party's over, simply peel off the tape and wash your glassware as usual.

Photo By: Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

Gold Confetti Centerpiece

Sometimes the best decorative elements are the simplest. To make this eye-catching centerpiece, scatter large flakes of gold confetti in the middle of a dining table and top with large pillar candles and small votives.

Photo By: Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

Floral Flair

For your NYE bash, give the normally rustic Mason jar a glamorous facelift using glitter. To make, turn your jar upside down and coat entirely with a layer of spray adhesive in a well-ventilated area. Liberally cover with glitter and once dry, shake off the excess.

Photo By: Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

Sparkling Sugar Rim

Don't add glitter to just your decor — add it to your menu, too. To add a shimmery and tasty garnish to your cocktails, pour white sparkling sugar sprinkles into a low mound in a shallow dish. Cut a small slit into a lime wedge, then slide it along the rim of your cocktail glass. Dip the top of the glass into the sprinkles, twisting the glass back and forth until the sugar is fully adhered to the rim.

Photo By: Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

NYE Fortune Cookies

The stroke of midnight marks the beginning of a new year, and for many, new goals and aspirations. Fortune cookies are a delicious and playful way to predict what's to come. When adorned with sparkling sugar, they're instantly taken from drab to fab. To add sugar, combine water and powdered sugar in a small bowl until it reaches a paste-like consistency. Dip a fortune cookie halfway into the mixture, pull it out, then wait a few seconds for the liquid to become slightly tacky. Dip the cookie into white sparkling sugar, and set on parchment paper to dry.

Photo By: Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

Coat Check Numbers

Make your guests feel like VIP with a coat check service. Add a personal touch to your tags by numbering them with embossed glitter and tying them with satin ribbon. To do this, purchase blank coat-check tags that have a hole on top for ribbon or elastic and a perforated edge for giving guests claim tickets. Dip number stamps in a gold pigment ink pad, then stamp onto tag. Before the pigment ink dries, sprinkle glitter embossing powder onto the numbers, shake off excess powder and hold an embossing heat tool over the tag for 5-10 seconds. Repeat the process with smaller number stamps on the claim stub. String a ribbon or elastic through the hole and tie.

Photo By: Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

Say Cheese!

Everyone loves taking party pics, so why not let the ones from your NYE bash shine above the rest with a show-stopping backdrop? All you need is a bare wall and store-bought glitter paper to set up a bonafide studio where guests can snap photos with their cameras or cell phones. To make, use a large plate to trace a circle on the back of a sheet of 12x12-inch glitter paper. Cut out the traced circle, then use double-sided tape to adhere to the wall. Repeat with additional colors, and arrange spots on the wall in the layout of your choosing.

Photo By: Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

Mini Gold Crown

December 31st is the one night of the year when everyone gets to feel like royalty. Help your guests dress the part with homemade miniature crowns that can be donned throughout the night. To make, use scissors to cut crown points into one end of a cardboard tube. On the opposite end of the tube, use a small hole punch or scissor points to poke two holes across from each other. Coat the cardboard tube in spray adhesive, then cover with fine craft glitter. Once completely dry, shake off excess glitter and string 12 inches of elastic through the two holes. Tie the ends of the elastic together.

Photo By: Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

Confetti Poppers

Whether you'll be kissing your sweetheart or shooting off fireworks, the stroke of midnight calls for making a big statement. These confetti cannons can be made inexpensively and are the perfect way to start the new year off with a bang. To make, use scissors to cut the bottom out of a paper cup and set aside. Knot the end of a non-inflated balloon, then cut the tip of the other end of the balloon. Stretch the cut end of the balloon around the bottom of the paper cup, then fill with confetti. To fire the cannon, pull the knot back and release.

Photo By: Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

Gold Ribbon Sparklers

No New Year's Eve is complete without sparklers. Take sparklers to the next level by attaching gold ribbon and a tag that reads "Shine On". To make, print our free tags, and punch a hole where indicated. Next, bunch 4-6 sparklers together, and knot a piece of glitter ribbon around them to secure. String the paper tags into the ribbon, and tie a bow.

Photo By: Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

Glitter To-Go

The perfect party favor is one that reminds guests of your party while also serving a purpose. These corked bottles of glitter are sweet, little decorative pieces for the home and great to have on hand for craft projects. Tie with twine and adorn with our free printable tags to make the perfect party favor.

Photo By: Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

“When it comes to fall and winter menus, you’ve always got stirred, boozy, Old Fashioned-style drinks. But I’ve always been one to like bright, fruity cocktails,” says Brett Esler, barman at Whisler’s in Austin, Texas, for the last four years. “Champagne adds an interesting twist that brightens everything up.” Esler’s Autumn in Austin, despite its name, would make a gorgeous midnight toast on December 31. It mixes lots of fall flavors—an almond syrup called orgeat, a rum with heavy vanilla notes and a spiced pear liqueur from California with flavors of cinnamon and clove—with bright lemon juice and Champagne for a drink that’s somehow simultaneously a dose of comforting holiday spice and a blast of citrusy refreshment.

Esler’s biggest piece of Champagne-cocktail advice is actually to go easy on the Champagne. “Too much and it just tastes kind of like Champagne with something in it,” he says. “It should add to the drink but not overpower it.”

The great thing about Champagne cocktails is that you can make most of them ahead of time. For each of the recipes below, you can batch the base and pour it into glasses to top with bubbly a few minutes before 12, or turn it into a punch by making a big batch of base in a large bowl with an ice block and dumping in a full bottle—or even two!—of sparkling wine.

If, after all this, you’re still worried about breaking a sacred tradition by swapping in bubbly cocktails for glasses of straight Champagne, sparkling wine expert Berry has one last benefit. “No, I absolutely don’t think it’s sacrilegious to serve cocktails at midnight on New Year’s Eve!” she says. “In terms of savings, it’s a great way to make a nice bottle of bubbly go further.”

Carnival of Souls

By Alex Barbatsis | Good Housekeeping | Los Angeles

Ingredients

  • 1 oz. tequila
  • .5 oz. lemon juice
  • .5 oz bubblegum syrup*
  • champagne or other sparkling wine
  • Glass: flute
  • Garnish: cotton candy
Carnival of Souls

Carnival of Souls

A cocktail from Good Housekeeping in Los Angeles, Calif.

Photo by: Jenn Wong

Jenn Wong

Preparation

Add the tequila, lemon juice and bubblegum syrup to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a flute glass. Fill with Champagne or other sparkling wine and garnish with a tuft of cotton candy. (Tell guests to push the cotton candy into the cocktail before drinking.)

*To make bubblegum syrup, combine 5 ounces of simple syrup (1 part sugar, 1 part water) with 5 pieces of Dubble Bubble Bubble Gum and let stand for 90 minutes. Strain, and store in the refrigerator.

Indian Summer

By Ashtin Berry | Air's Champagne Parlor | New York

Ingredients

  • .25 oz. Chambord Liqueur
  • 1 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth
  • .5 oz. Campari
  • .75 oz. Yuzu juice (or substitute lemon juice)
  • Brut nature cava or other sparkling wine
  • Glass: coupe
  • Garnish: lemon twist
Indian Summer

Indian Summer

A cocktail from Air's Champagne Parlor in New York City.

Photo by: Courtesy of Air's Champagne Parlor

Courtesy of Air's Champagne Parlor

Preparation

Add all the ingredients except the cava to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a coupe glass. Fill with cava and garnish with a lemon twist.

Autumn in Austin

By Brett Esler | Whisler's | Austin, Texas

Ingredients

  • 1.25 oz. Papa's Pilar Blonde Rum
  • .5 oz. B.G. Reynolds Original Orgeat
  • .5 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz. Simonet Blanc de Blancs or other champagne
  • St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur
  • Glass: coupe
  • Garnish: pear slice
Autumn in Austin

Autumn in Austin

A cocktail from Whisler's in Austin, Texas.

Photo by: Mark Weatherford

Mark Weatherford

Preparation

Add the rum, orgeat and lemon juice to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a coupe glass. Gently pour the Champagne on top and then add 2 spritzes of St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur from a mister bottle. Garnish with a pear slice.

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