This is a slightly updated repeat of a column I wrote last year for New Year’s Eve. We are off gallivanting around albeit tentatively in our post-COVID world, and will be back in the new year, full of new resolves and recipes. We’ve been to one timed and tickets art exhibit that got very crowded, but lots of people were masked up, so we hope it wasn’t a super-spreader event. Otherwise, Happy New Year, Gentle Readers!
This New Year’s Eve I am kicking back with gin and Champagne (probably Prosecco because we are starting a New Year’s Resolution Budget). We will fire up the Acorn TV and watch a couple of episodes of the original Upstairs, Downstairs. There is nothing that makes me feel like a schlubby, self-indulgent, middle-aged, middle-class American faster than Upstairs, Downstairs.
Prosecco or Champagne? It’s a personal choice. I am hugely impressed by a stately bottle of Veuve Cliquot, and would probably serve it to Mr. Hudson, the butler from Upstairs, Downstairs, if he ever came to call. But I find a pretty orange label on a bottle of Mionetto Prosecco just as appealing. Lady Marjorie, also from 165 Eaton Place, would never comment on the lower price point. She would be pleased just to loosen her corset stays and have a second glass. And then Lady Marjorie will tell me to relax, and to enjoy myself a little bit. “You never know when disaster will strike,” she confides. (Lady Marjorie went down on Titanic, so she has some experience with life-changing moments.)
Mr. Hudson would tell me to pull up my bootstraps. The Christmas cookies are almost gone. In the meantime, it is Friday night, and it has been a long week. It’s the last time to indulge in 2022. Instead pouring a glass of my usual cheap winter Malbec, I thought I should test some seasonal, perhaps New Year’s Eve-ish cocktail recipes, to get back into the holiday spirit. These are easy crowd pleasers, but they require a little planning.
“The feeling of friendship is like that of being comfortably filled with roast beef; love is like being enlivened with Champagne.”
– Samuel Johnson
“Hits with remarkable precision.”
-Harry Craddock, The Savoy Cocktail Book
2 ounces gin
1 ounce lemon juice
1 spoonful extra fine sugar
Shake the gin, lemon juice and sugar in a cocktail shaker filled with cracked ice until chilled and well-mixed and then pour into tall glass containing cracked ice and fill up the glass with Champagne. This clever cocktail was said to have been devised during WWI, the kick from the alcohol combo being described as powerful as the French 75mm howitzer gun.
“Meeting Franklin Roosevelt was like opening your first bottle of Champagne; knowing him was like drinking it.”
In a Champagne glass add a teaspoon of sugar and enough Angostura bitters to melt the sugar. Add a tablespoon of Grand Marnier or cognac and mix in with the sugar, bitters mix. Add a “fine” quality Champagne and stir. Float a slice of thin orange on top. This is what Ilsa and Victor Laszlo sipped in Casablanca.
“Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.”
As always, our festive friends at Food52 have some delightful ideas for nibbles to help soak up some of the bubbly we are sure to be drinking on New Year’s Eve. https://www.food52.com/blog/2807
On a recent trip to food-forward-thinking-Charleston, friends ordered the Aperol and Prosecco cocktail, because they are oh, so trendy. I did not realize that this is the most popular cocktail in Italy. And now it can be one of yours, too!
Aperol and Prosecco
3 parts chilled, dry Prosecco
2 parts Aperol
1 splash soda
Serve with on the rocks in wine glass or rocks glass
Garnish with a slice of orange (this makes it practically health food!)
This is very pretty, and so seasonal: pomegranate mimosas. Yumsters. https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a46968/pomegranate-mimosas-recipe/
“My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough Champagne”
-John Maynard Keynes
And the best of both worlds: a Black Velvet! Champagne and Guinness. This drink is simply equal parts stout and sparkling wine, and to be honest, there are some who will never understand its appeal. But to fans, this is a perfect special-occasion drink, particularly suited to mornings and late afternoons. I had my first on a gelid night in London, at Rules, in Covent Garden. Divine.
4 ounces (1/2 cup) chilled Champagne or Prosecco
4 ounces (1/2 cup) chilled Guinness Extra Stout
Pour the Champagne into a tall glass. We first had ours served in heavy pewter tankards, but at home we eschew the delicate flutes for a sturdy rocks glass. This is not an effete drink. It is robust, and fills your hand with determination. Be sure to pour the Guinness on top. (This is important: Guinness is heavier. If you pour the sparkling wine second, it won’t combine evenly, and will need to be stirred. I shudder at the thought!)
Enjoy yourself this weekend. Happy New Year! Loosen those corset strings. And let the games begin, again, on Monday.
“Why do I drink Champagne for breakfast? Doesn’t everyone?”