Since 2001, my Seattle BFF Wendy and I have travelled somewhere new to celebrate NYE almost every year. Our first trip was on my move here to France, in 2001. We drank Champagne on the Champs-Elysees at midnight as 2002 arrived with the fireworks. Since then, we’ve seen the clock strike midnight in some amazing places from St Petersburg to a private boat on the Amazon in Peru. We’ve done Riga, Rio, Phuket and even Äkäslompolo in the arctic circle. While other halves, friends and travel buddies have come and gone, the one constant is it’s the two of us. Plus Champagne! We always bring a couple of celebratory bottles as we never know what will be on hand wherever we end up. Due to COVID-19, for the first time in years, I’ll be celebrating new years without my friend and the plan is to stay home with BBFF Thibault (also a great way to spend it). If the run has to end, it’s fitting to bookend the Parisian celebrations at my arrival in France with a quiet settling into my adopted home in our country house in le Perche. But there will still be Champagne!
As New Years approaches and many of us will be foregoing travel for festivities at home, I encourage you to spoil yourself silly. Of course, champagne really stands alone and needs no further adornment to be truly appreciated. I checked in with my friend Cynthia Coutu of Delectabulles who suggests: “Drink that special bottle of champagne you have been saving. You deserve it for getting through 2020. And if 2020 has taught us anything, it is that the future is uncertain, so go ahead and drink it!”
I’ll be acting on that advice myself. And, should you wish to do something more creative, don’t go with just any old fizzy cocktail. You want something that really does this sparkling wine justice (and feel free to swap out Champagne for other sparkling wines like prosecco, cremant, etc). Here are my top five ways to ring in the new year with champagne:
The Champagne cocktail is simple and sophisticated and one of the oldest cocktails, dating back to the mid-1800’s.
1 sugar cube
2 – 3 dashes Angostura bitters
Soak sugar cube with a few dashes of the bitters and drop in into a Champagne flute
Slowly pour champagne to fill glass
A classic in the canon of cocktails, the name refers to an actual cannon used by the French in WWI.
1 ounce gin*
½ ounce simple syrup**
½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Garnish: lemon twist
Pour gin, simple syrup and lemon juice into a champagne flute and mix
Top with Champagne
Garnish with a lemon zest
*Often made with gin, this is also delicious if you swap that out for cognac
**Mix together equal parts sugar and water to make the simple syrup
Death in the Afternoon
Ernest Hemingway not only wrote Death in the Afternoon, but created a cocktail by the same name.
1.5 ounces absinthe
4 ounces Champagne
Pour absinthe into a flute and top with Champagne.
Doll up your tried and true French aperitif by swapping out white wine with Champagne.
Crème de Cassis
Pour a flute of Champagne and drizzle in 2 to 3 teaspoons of Creme de Cassis
And for the morning after….
Recipes are a bit all all over the board on these two, some calling for ice, some for different proportions of orange juice to Champagne. I like mine with ⅓ bubbles, ⅔ orange juice and lots of ice in a big balloon glass. Wendy likes hers in a flute with pineapple juice. So I suggest you get your juice, get your bubbles, mix in whatever propotion you like, add ice at your discretion, and enjoy a new year! (or just a new day)
If you want to learn more about Champagne, check out Cynthia’s site, Delectabulles, where she offers a range of courses and webinars with a focus on Champagnes made by women.