On Living Dayton yesterday (27 Dec 17), I showed a couple of simple to make cocktails for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Simple cocktails are great for parties. They do not take much time to make if you have to do them individually and can be absolute crowd pleasers. As impressive as a drink is with multiple ingredients and unique elements, there is a reason that margaritas and Manhattans maintain their popularity. Old Fashioneds fall into that category as well. Ask twenty bartenders how to make one, and odds are you will get at least fifteen different versions.
An Old Fashioned works with three ingredients. There is a base spirit, usually whiskey, a sweetener, usually sugar, and bitters of some sort. Recipes exist that have oranges, cherries, soda water, rum, and all manner of other changes made to that basic formula. It is one of the reasons that no matter what bar you go to, there is never a problem ordering and Old Fashioned. As you can see, most bars and homes have the ingredients needed to make one.
Maple Old Fashioned
2 oz. rye-heavy bourbon or rye whiskey
.5 oz. maple syrup
3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
Glass: Old Fashioned
Garnish: Orange zest
Pour all of the ingredients into a mixing glass over ice. Stir until chilled, then strain into an Old Fashioned glass over ice. Twist the zest over the cocktail and add it to the drink.
This goes with the pork dish you might be having on New Year's Day. Pork is eaten on the first day of the year to ensure good fortune in the coming days. Central European countries, Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and the rest, eat pig because the pig cannot look behind it. It is always "rooting forward" to find food or get to where it is going. This always forward drive by our porcine friends is why their meat is considered good luck, and that tradition moved into the Midwest as the people of those countries immigrated there. If you cannot eat pork, pig-shaped cookies and candies are also considered part of the good luck ritual.
Sparkling New Year
1 oz. brandy (Optional)
.5 oz. orange liqueur
1 oz. cranberry juice
Sweet sparkling wine
Glass: Champagne or Coupe
Garnish: Orange zest
Pour the brandy, orange liqueur, and cranberry juice into a mixing tin over ice. Shake until chilled, 20 - 30 seconds, then strain into the flute or coupe. Top with the champagne. Twist the zest over the cocktail and add it to the drink.
How can you do New Year's without something sparkling? Champagne has been a vehicle for celebrations for centuries, ever since the British figured out how the process worked. The bitter cold winters in England helped, because even fermentation was not willing to continue in the cold. This left some undigested sugars in the wine, which created the sparkle when the process fired back up in the spring.
This cocktail would be difficult to make over and over again quickly. The best solution to serve this to a large group of people? Turn it into a punch!
Sparkling New Year Punch
1.5 cups brandy (Optional)
1 cup orange liqueur
6 cups cranberry juice
2 750 mL bottles sweet sparkling wine
Glass: Punch Cup
Garnish: Cranberries and Orange Slices
Pour all of the ingredients except the champagne into a sealable container the day before the party. This will allow all of the flavors to blend overnight. When you are ready to serve, fill a punch bowl half full of ice. Pour the blended mix over the ice. Then add the two bottles of champagne, cranberries, and orange slices just before the party begins. Arrange some cups by the bowl and allow people to serve themselves!
Be aware that punches have a kick. Removing the brandy from the recipe is not going to dull the flavor, but it will pull back on the alcohol content.
Here are two cocktails that are sure to add to your guests' enjoyment of welcoming the new year! Pick up these extra ingredients while you are out purchasing your party favors, pork, and sauerkraut over the weekend and safely enjoy the beginning of 2018.