Raise Your Glass: 24 New Year's Eve Cocktails
Whether you're hosting a gala event or just snuggled with your family on the couch watching the ball drop, add some spark to your New Year's Eve party with one of these festive cocktail recipes.
By the time you hit your mid-twenties, there's really no excuse for celebrating the New Year with a red Solo cup in your hand. Time to class it up! Whether you prefer an elegant Champagne cocktail, a sparkling party punch, or a classic mixed drink, these New Year's recipes have you covered.
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Pop the cork! Champagne basics
Nothing says "celebration" like Champagne — and nothing will make your friends feel so spoiled. While true Champagne is specific to the Champagne region of France, any sparkling wine is perfectly acceptable to use in these recipes. Whether it be a fruity cava from Spain, a sweet Italian prosecco, or Californian sparkling wine, just choose a quality bottle, and it will be a happy New Year indeed.
The language of Champagne
Brut, sec, cuveé ... what does it all mean? And what do you need to know so you don't spend more time poring over labels than pouring drinks for your party guests?
The most important lingo to learn are the terms that are directly related to the taste. Champagnes and sparkling wines fall along a spectrum from dry (i.e. low sugar content) to sweet. Where a particular wine falls within this spectrum is indicated by the following designations on the label, from driest to sweetest: Extra-brut, Brut, Extra-Dry, Demi-Sec, and Doux.
You may see a bottle described as "Brut NV" or "Demi-Sec NV." The NV stands for "non-vintage," which means the wine was made from grapes harvested in different years. Cuveé is another word you may run across on a sparkling wine bottle. This word is a little trickier — it can refer to the first pressing of a grape or can indicate a particular house blend of different style grapes. Finally, French Champagnes may be labeled as either Premier Cru or Grand Cru. The cru refers to a specific growing region in France and is ostensibly an indicator of superior wine.
Like anything in the wine world, whether any of these qualities are "good" or "bad" is really a matter of personal taste. Your best bet? Taste, and choose a bottle you like!
Final note: If you're going to spend big bucks on Champagne, serve it straight up. Let your punch bowl be a place to feature less expensive options.
Like a classic little black dress, it's hard to imagine anything more elegant than a simple glass of Champagne in a tall, tapered flute. But what would a little black dress be without accessories? A Champagne cocktail gives you the opportunity to gild the lily with some visually stunning garnishes. Be it a tuft of cotton candy, a delicate edible flower, some bobbing berries, or a wheel of lime, these New Year's cocktails are fully dressed to impress.
For the punch bowl
Take advantage of in-season citrus for these tasty winter Champagne punch recipes. Choosing to go the punch route has many benefits: a big batch in the bowl keeps you from playing bartender all night, gives your guests a place to congregate and meet, and, most importantly, is easy to put together. At its simplest, you can make a tasty punch with nothing but a bottle of sparkling white wine, some ginger ale, and any combination of fruit juice — cranberry juice, orange juice, apple cider, and pineapple juice all work well. For a more complex punch, add some Grand Marnier, or try one of these recipes:
Light and herbal mixed drinks
Part of the appeal of Champagne-based drinks is the light, bubbly nature of the wine. But what if you want something different, more versatile, or simply don't care for sparkling wine? Try one of these refreshing holiday cocktails with herbal notes as a festive alternative to Champagne.
Hollywood glamour cocktails
Is your New Year's Eve party more of a black tie affair? If you're trying to channel a sophisticated vibe, you can't go wrong with a classic cocktail. As an added perk, serving a whiskey, vodka, or gin-based drink gives you the ability to easily create other classic cocktails by swapping out an ingredient here or there. Better yet, put out an array of bitters, some lemon wedges, and Luxardo cherries, and let your guests customize their own festive drink, be it shaken or stirred. Don't forget the ice bucket!
Beyond the Maraschino: Fruit-laden cocktails
Looking for something a little sweeter for your New Year's party? Try one of these fruity cocktails. These recipes start with a classic cocktail — the cosmo, margarita, cape-codder, or a Moscow mule — then add some pizzazz with a splash (or bite) of fruit.
More New Year's inspiration
Find more appetizers, cocktails, and good luck charms in these next articles.