For many people New Year's Eve means breaking out the bubbly, but all too often the bottles are kept socked away until midnight. That's a shame—good Champagne and other sparkling wines are great to enjoy throughout the evening (in moderation, of course). And as a bonus, modest wines easily take on a new, more luscious character with just a little help from the liquor cabinet.
If you're serving sparkling wine over the holiday and are looking for something new, try perking up the drink by rinsing the glass with a teaspoon or so of good quality liqueur before pouring the wine. Cointreau, Grand Marnier or Rhum Clement Creole Shrubb will contribute a delicate orange quality to the drink, while a little apricot liqueur (Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot and Marie Brizard Apry are both good choices) gives the wine a special fruity twist. A splash of green Chartreuse gives the bubbly extra mystery, while a little crème de violette—Rothman & Winter is the choice here again—gives the drink an intriguing floral aspect. A little experimentation goes a long way; just be sure to use a brut, or dry sparkling wine, since the liqueur will contribute enough sweetness to make the drink pleasant without veering into cloying.
Of course, livening up a sparkling wine can be as easy as putting together a Champagne Cocktail. Simple to prepare, easy on the eyes and damn tasty to boot, the Champagne Cocktail is a pleasant way to dip into the bubbly while ringing in the new year.
About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.
- Yield:makes 1 cocktail
- Active time: 2 minutes
- Total time:2 minutes
- Sugar cube
- Angostura or Peychaud's bitters
- Dry Champagne or other sparkling wine
- Lemon twist, for garnish
Place the sugar cube on a small saucer and douse with two or three dashes of bitters. Place the sugar in the bottom of a Champagne flute, and fill with sparkling wine (careful—the sugar will make the wine foam, so go slow). Twist a piece of lemon peel over the drink and use as garnish.