A New Year's Eve Sparking Bar Cart with our Beverage Director
A new decade is almost here (!) and we’re ready to toast its arrival with a glass of something fun and sparkling. Our beverage director, Steve Wildy, shared his essentials for a properly stocked bar cart that allows your guests to mix-and-match simple, easy-to-find ingredients to create their favorite festive cocktails at your New Year’s Eve party. Read on for his sparkling bar cart basics that’ll have your guests celebrating.
Steve says, “I prefer simple, affordable sparkling wines for mixing, partly because their straightforward nature provides a more transparent template for other flavors, but also because higher end sparkling wine should be enjoyed on its own! Some great bargain Champagne alternatives can be found in prosecco, Cremant de Loire, and cava. Look for drier styles for cocktail mixing, labeled brut or extra brut.”
Fruity and floral liqueurs: "So many classic sparkling cocktails depend on the 'crème' style of liqueur, such as the Kir Royale (classically with crème de cassis). Crème does not mean these are creamy; instead, it refers to the additional sugar content (which gives the spirit an extra syrupy texture) that cuts nicely when met with a dose of bubbly. There is a world of opportunity for at home experimentation if you have a handful of these on hand; peach, blackberry, grapefruit, violet are among my personal favorites, and other fruit and floral liqueurs such as Triple Sec (orange) and St Germain (elderflower) are worthwhile essentials as well."
Bitters: "The classic Champagne Cocktail is just Champagne, Angostura bitters, sugar, and a twist of lemon, so it’s fair to say that bitters are a must have in any sparkling bar cart. Bitters are tinctures made by steeping various botanicals in overproofed alcohol. As the name suggests, they add bitterness to any drink, but also bring a depth of flavor and complexity, even in small doses. There are a wide range of flavors on the market, so you can really tailor your selection to your own preferences. Some personal favorites: Lavender, Chamomile, Blood Orange, Lemon, Hopped Grapefruit, and I’m never without the classic Angostura and Peychaud’s."
Aperol/Campari/Amaro: "We can’t talk about sparkling wine cocktails without talking about the world of spritz. All over the world this style of cocktail has become a happy hour favorite and typically leans on bubby wine and a bitter liqueur like Aperol, Campari, or Amaro to provide its signature, bracing “aperitif” quality–something to wake up the palate and the senses before a meal."
Absinthe: "The secret sauce for a host of classic drinks, including Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon (His famous recipe: "Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly."). This storied herbal liqueur dramatically changes any drink, even in extremely small quantities."
Fresh Citrus: "Winter is peak season for all kinds of classic and unique citrus fruits; meyer lemon, blood orange, pink grapefruit, tangelo, kumquat, car cara, yuzu, etc. Be sure to keep a selection of your favorites on hand for sparkling cocktail mixing or garnishing. Twists from any of these can add a drama both on the palate and in the glass."
The contemporary standard base for this drink is gin, but the original incorporated cognac, which I prefer.
1.5 oz Cognac
0.5 oz Simple syrup
0.5 oz Fresh lemon juice
3-4 oz Sparkling wine
Fill a shaker with ice and add cognac, simple syrup, and lemon juice. Shake well and strain into a coupe martini glass. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a lemon peel.
The classic Italian happy hour standard.
1.5 oz Aperol
3 oz Sparkling wine
Splash club soda
Blood orange wheel
Fill a wine glass two thirds full with ice, and build contents in glass then stir gently to incorporate. Garnish with blood orange wheel.
Lesser known classic of the Alps, utilizing the region’s famous elderflower liqueur.
1 oz Elderflower Liqueur
2 Lemon wheels
5-7 Mint leaves
4-5 oz Sparkling wine
Fill a shaker with ice and add elderflower liqueur, lemon, and mint. Shake and pour all contents including ice into a wine glass. Top with sparkling wine and stir.
Playful take on Death in the Afternoon, incorporating raspberry and ginger flavors.
0.5oz Raspberry liqueur; Chambord or Crème de Framboise
0.5oz Ginger liqueur (Domaine de Canton)
0.5oz Fresh lime juice
0.5oz Simple syrup
3-4oz Sparkling wine
Fill a shaker with ice and add raspberry liqueur, ginger liqueur, lime juice and simple syrup. Shake and strain into a coupe glass, top with sparkling wine, add a dash of absinthe and stir. Garnish with a lime peel.
A sweeter, gentler take on the Champagne cocktail.
0.5oz Stirrings blood orange bitters
0.5oz Ginger liqueur (Canton)
3-4oz Sparkling wine
Amarena cherry garnish
Pour bitters and ginger liqueur into a flute, top with sparkling wine and garnish with a skewered amarena cherry.
Still thirsty? We've even more festive cocktail recipes here, here, and here.