Cheers to a New Year

Ring in 2021 with a traditional toast of bubbly or try a variation on the classic Champagne Cocktail.

No New Year’s Eve celebration would be complete without a champagne toast to ring in the new year and perhaps no year will be more eagerly awaited as 2021 ushers out 2020. With celebrations likely a little different this year, champagne is sure to remain a vital component of New Year’s Eve celebrations, no matter how small or intimate.

Toasting the new year with a sparkling wine can be traced back to French champagne producers. Champagne, a sparkling wine from a specific region of France, was used in the baptism of the Frankish warrior Clovis, according to the Champagne Committee of France. Soon, champagne became a key part of religious events, coronations and soirees — as well as secular rituals that replaced formerly religious rituals, according to the book “When Champagne Became French” by Kolleen Guy. Champagne manufacturers eventually linked the bubbly to festive occasions with family, and New Year’s celebrations became another ideal time to pop the cork on a bottle.

While plain champagne is certainly the norm, it has become popular over the years to incorporate the sparkling wine into fun cocktails. The classic champagne cocktail follows the elemental structure of spirit-based cocktails – spirit, plus sugar, plus bitters. The recipe is on the list of the International Bartender’s Association’s official cocktails and it even found a place in the classic 1862 mixology manual, “The Bartender’s Guide,” by Jerry Thomas. Ever since, according to Robert Simonson in “In Search of the Ultimate Champagne Cocktail,” bartenders have expounded on the recipe, adding fruit to the mix and splashing in complementary liquors. The lump of sugar, he writes, is the accepted sweetener. “Soaked in bitters and placed at the bottom of the glass, the fast-disintegrating cube lent the drink a built-in show, as fine bubbles stream to the surface until the sugar is dissolved.”

Here, we share methods of making a classic champagne cocktail along with festive variations, perfect for this year and years to come.

Classic Champagne Cocktail

¾ tsp granulated sugar (or sugar cube)

8 shakes Angostura bitters

Lemon peel or Maraschino cherry

Brandy (optional)

Place sugar in the bottom of a champagne flute. Add splash of Brandy if desired before topping the glass with champagne. Serve with a Maraschino cherry or garnish with a lemon peel.

Chambord & Champagne

¾ oz Chambord

4 oz champagne

Simply pour the raspberry liqueur in a champagne flute and add champagne to mix. 

St. Germain Champagne

2 TBS St. Germain

2 TBS gin

1 TBS lemon juice

1 TBS simple syrup

6 TBS champagne

Add St. Germain, gin, lemon juice, and syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until cold. Strain into champagne flute and top with champagne.

The French 75

3 TBS gin

1 ½ TBS lemon juice

1 TBS simple syrup

6 TBS champagne

Lemon twist

Add gin, lemon juice, and syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until cold. Strain into champagne flute and top with champagne. Garnish with lemon twist.

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