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Sparkling recipes for New Year's Eve drinks

By GRETCHEN McKAY
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
New Year’s, the biggest party night of the year, is just a little over a week away, and hosts across the globe will be looking for that one special beverage to keep their guests smiling — and sipping — until the ball drops at midnight, if not well after.
Tradition holds there will be some sort of bubbly with which to ring in 2012. My vote goes to an extra-dry prosecco, a sparkling Italian white wine that has soared in popularity in recent years, and which I love served in a tall and narrow flute so the nose-tickling bubbles and aromas stay inside the glass.
Still, nothing sets the party scene like a pretty signature cocktail.
A drink doesn’t have to be fussy to impress your party guests, or made with exotic ingredients.
Then again, on this night in particular, when revelers are in an especially festive mood and any resolutions to lose weight or eat a better diet are still at least a day away from being tested, no one’s going to complain if the drink is a bit more “fun” than usual.
A spoonful of pomegranate arils, for example, will add crunch along with visual interest to a glass of sparkling wine, and a bartender never can go wrong by garnishing a drink with a long curlicue of citrus peel or a slice of fresh fruit.
Another easy and inexpensive way to dress up a sweet cocktail is to rim the glass with a little fruit juice and then dip it into granulated sugar or crushed hard candy. Consider it the cocktail version of a sequined blouse or glittery party hat.
It’s New Year’s Eve, after all, when everything and anything is possible! Start your calorie-counting the next day.
This bubbly pink cocktail is definitely worth the stained fingers a pomegranate always seems to entail. I substituted prosecco just because I love it, but any sparkling wine will do.
Pomegranate Sparkler
11/2 cups (12 ounces)
pomegranate liqueur, chilled
4 cups (1 quart) California
sparkling wine, chilled
1/4cup pomegranate arils
(seeds)
Chilled champagne flutes
To make each drink, pour 3 tablespoons (11/2 ounces) liqueur into a flute. Gently pour 1/2 cup (4 ounces) sparkling wine over the liqueur. Add 11/2 teaspoons pomegranate seeds and serve immediately.
Makes 8 drinks.
— “Great Gatherings: Star Chefs Entertain at Home” by The Macy’s Culinary Council (Book Kitchen, $29.95)
• • •
For a more elegant presentation, take a chilled martini glass, run a lemon wedge around the rim, and then dip the glass into a plate of fine sugar.
Limoncello Martini
Ice
1 ounce limoncello
1 ounce citrus vodka
Splash of simple syrup
Lemon twist for garnish
Fill cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add limoncello, vodka and simple syrup. Shake.
Strain and pour the cocktail into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.
Makes 1 drink.
— David Mielnicki, Cafe Notte, Emsworth, Pa.
• • •
Kim’s Strawberry-Basil Sparkler
My girlfriend Kim is always the life of the party, thanks to her awesome bartending skills. This drink can be served straight up in a champagne glass, or over ice in a goblet. Make sure you tear the basil by hand because, says Kim, “Italians NEVER cut basil. It’s bad luck.”
1 C. fresh strawberries or
raspberries, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh basil, ripped
into little pieces
2 Tbs. sugar
1 to 2 C. good vodka
Bottle of procescco (Italian
sparkling wine)
Mix berries, basil, sugar and vodka together in a container, and let it sit in fridge for a few hours or overnight to allow the sugar to dissolve.
To serve, place a tablespoon of the berry mixture in bottom of glass. Top with prosecco and serve. Yum!
Makes 6 to 8 drinks.
— Kim Colaizzi Ifft
Seeing not everyone imbibes, and ginger ale is oh-so-boring, you’ll probably need at least one tasty mocktail to ring in the New Year. This festive recipe showcases some favorite seasonal fruits kids love and as a plus, is packed with antioxidants. Consider it a preemptive strike on 2012.
• • •
Winter Sangria
11/2 C. unsweetened black
cherry juice
1/2 C. fresh pomegranate
seeds (from 1
pomegranate)
1 navel orange, halved and
sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 Granny Smith apple, cored
and thinly sliced
into wedges
1 1/2 Tbs. pure maple syrup
3 C. seltzer, chilled
1 C. ginger ale, chilled
Ice
In a large pitcher, combine cherry juice, pomegranate seeds, orange, apple and maple syrup. Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. Stir in seltzer and ginger ale. Serve over ice.
Makes 10 servings.
• • •
Hot Spiced Cider
1 half-gallon apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
8 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
1/4 tsp. whole black
peppercorns
2-inch-knob fresh ginger,
peeled and thinly sliced
2-to-3-inch piece orange or
lemon peel, pith removed
Pour apple cider into a medium pot. Heat to boiling then reduce to a very low simmer (no more than a lazy bubble or two). While it comes to a boil, wrap seasonings in cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine (this is optional but makes it easier to take them out). Place seasoning packet in apple cider. Mostly cover and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, or until apple cider has reached desired level of spice. Can serve hot or chilled. Add a shot of bourbon or rum to a six-ounce pour of cider for a delicious seasonal cocktail.
Makes about 10 6-ounce drinks.
• • •
This warming drink has all the flavor of the classic red version, but is lighter in body.
Mulled White Wine
1 orange
5 whole cloves
3 whole star anise pods
1 piece (1-inch) peeled fresh
ginger, thinly sliced
1 C. water
1/4 C. sugar
1 bottle (750 ml) medium-
bodied white wine, such
as a Viognier or an oaked
Chardonnay
Peel orange in strips using a vegetable peeler. Push cloves into peel.
Combine clove-studded peel, star anise, ginger, water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add wine. Let stand for 20 minutes to mull.
Just before serving, gently reheat mulled wine over medium heat until just beginning to simmer. Serve warm.
Serves 6.
— Martha Stewart Living, Jan. 2012
• • •
I agree with writer Virginia Phillips when she says she likes a “sexy, light drink to start things off.” As an example, she offers the following Mario Batali cocktail: a bitter/sweet tangerine aperitif. With its colorful swirl of orange and red, the drink is as festive as it is fresh.
Tangerine, Campari and Soda
14 tangerines
1 quart soda water
8 ounces Campari
Juice 12 of the tangerines and chill the juice. Cut the remaining two tangerines into 1/8-inch slices. Fill eight highball glasses with ice and place two tangerine slices in each glass and fill the glass to 2/3 full with soda water. Pour in Campari to fill the glass and float 1 or more tangerine slices on top.
Serves 8.
— “Mario Batali Holiday Food” (Clarkson Potter, 2000)
• • •
This vermouth-based cocktail is made with fresh pineapple. Best served in a frosted martini glass.
Pineapple and Sweet Vermouth
1 whole pineapple (2 pounds)
peeled, cored and cut into
2-inch chunks
1 fifth sweet white vermouth,
divided
1 bunch tarragon leaves
Chill martini glasses in the freezer until very cold. Place the pineapple in a blender with half of the vermouth. Blend until smooth and pour, over ice, into the martini glasses, garnish with sprigs of tarragon, top each glass with a splash of vermouth and serve.
Serves 12.
— “Mario Batali Holiday Food” (Clarkson Potter, 2000)

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