Get in the New Year spirit: The cocktails you can mix at home, the best bubbly and tempting tipples for teetotallers
Classic: A Cosmopolitan cocktail complete with a lemon twist
All wonderfully tasty, celebratory and classy. Limit yourself to one or two to get the party started.
If the Martini is the Godfather of all cocktails, a Cosmopolitan must be the heir to his empire. Tasty and good-looking, too, this classic is ideal for New Year’s Eve.
Preparation: You should store your vodka in the freezer, along with your Martini glasses if possible — this keeps everything ice cold.
Recipe (per person)
5cl/1.75 fl oz good quality vodka
1cl/0.35 fl oz Cointreau
2cl/0.70fl oz cranberry juice — Ocean Spray normal, not the ‘diet’ version
A tiny drop or two of lime juice
A cocktail shaker
Method: Pour all the ingredients into the shaker, shake vigorously, and strain into the glass.
Named after Count Camillo Negroni, this is the perfect aperitif cocktail, as it is bitter and sweet in equal measure. You can add soda water to the base cocktail to mellow it out and make it into a long drink, if you wish.
Preparation: You need a tumbler for the straight Negroni or a highball glass if you want to turn it into a long drink.
Recipe (per person)
3cl/1.05 fl oz good quality gin
3cl/1.05 fl oz Martini Rosso
3cl/1.05 fl oz Campari
A slice of orange
Soda water (optional)
Method: Half fill a glass with ice, pour in the ingredients and stir. Garnish with a slice of orange and add soda for the long version.
SPARKLING WINE COCKTAILS
These all taste great and also look fantastic and they are lighter in alcohol than the cocktails, too. I would recommend making up a few different versions and giving your guests a ‘cocktail menu’.
Recipe: Simply, sparkling white wine or Champagne and Crme de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur). Use a very dry, neutral, but well-made sparkling wine and the best cassis you can find, because that’s where the impact is.
Use a Champagne glass and dribble in the cassis — a couple of teaspoons should colour and flavour the wine nicely, but some people prefer more.
My pick of the sparklers this year is NV Crmant de Bourgogne, Cave de Lugny Blanc de Blancs, 10.99 from Waitrose.
The best cassis comes from Dijon in France, and it’s fairly widely available from delis and specialists. As an alternative, you could make a Framboise Royale (with raspberry liqueur) or a very modern Pomegranate Royale with pomegranate juice and a few fresh pomegranate seeds in each glass.
Recipe: Prosecco (the sparkling white wine from the Veneto region of Northern Italy) and peach juice. Invented in the famous Harry’s Bar in Venice, in 1934, this is a delicious cocktail and, once again, the quality of the fruit component is crucial to the outcome. Tesco Finest Bisol Prosecco (9.99) is a nice wine and Sunraysia makes a nice peach pure (2.50, widely available). Simply add the two together in a Champagne glass to your very own specifications.
FIZZ AND WINE
There is no need to have a long wine list at New Year — just one superb, great value Champagne and two totally over-delivering wines — these are my pick of the best value of the year . . .
NV OUDINOT BRUT CHAMPAGNE, France (23, reduced to 18 until January 1, Marks & Spencer). M&S has long championed this beautifully balanced wine. Floral and not too rich, this is the perfect all-purpose, all-palates Champagne for New Year’s Eve.
NV WAITROSE BRUT NON VINTAGE CHAMPAGNE MAGNUM, France (39.99, reduced to 31.99 until January 3, Waitrose).
A richer style and in Magnum format (two bottles in one!) If you divide this price by two, it is a stunning-value Champagne! This wine not only tastes delicious, but looks imposing, too!
2010 MACON-VILAGES CHARDONNAY, CAVE DE LUGBY, Burgundy, France (6.17, Asda). To my mind the most beautiful style of white wine on the planet is white Burgundy.
It is nigh on impossible to find great-value versions of the Chardonnay grape in its most famous region, but this delightful Mcon is sensational. With a touch of richness and honey, but no oakiness at all, this is a true star.
2009 ST HALLETT, GAMEKEEPER RESERVE, Barossa Valley, South Australia (9.99, reduced to 6.66, until January 3, Waitrose). One of the most revered names in the Aussie wine scene, St Hallett makes wonderful wines. Gamekeeper’s is a juicy, wintry red with seriously complex briary notes with a twist of spice on the finish, too.
Not too heavy or brooding, this is the perfect wine for all manner of food, and the reduced price is simply gob-smacking.
AND FOR THE TEETOTALLERS
The first duty of a non-alcoholic drink is to look and taste every bit as good as an alcoholic drink. And these festive tipples certainly deliver. For extra pzazz, add a wedge of lemon or lime and — if cold — serve in a truly chilled glass.
CAWSTON PRESS: Apple and Ginger. Each carton contains ten apples. Combined with zingy ginger and absolutely nothing else, this is a delicious festive drink which can be enjoyed hot or cold. (1.67, Waitrose)
AME The name comes from the Japanese word for ‘gentle rain’. Subtle fruit flavours combine with sparkling spring water for a light, refreshing drink. Choose from fruit combinations including raspberry and blackberry (2.03, or 2 for 1 at Waitrose.)
FEELGOOD DRINKS CRANBERRY AND LIME SPRITZ Fruit, water and no added sugar. Other flavours include orange and passionfruit and cloudy lemon (1 at Asda; 2 or 2 for 2.50 at Tesco; 2 for 1 at Sainsbury’s).
ASDA EXTRA SPECIAL SPARKLING PINK MUSCAT JUICE With a pink blush, this is a sweet, fruity, fizzy drink — a combination of concentrated Muscat grape juice and carbonated spring water — perfect for New Year celebrations. ( 1.65 at Asda).