Here’s the paradox of New Year’s parties: If you’re serving drinks, you want them to be exciting and festive. But if you’re hosting the party, you don’t want to spend your own last night of 2019 mixing one cocktail after another.
So we’ll let you in on the method we use at our own parties, which we’ve christened the “Batch and Bubble.”
Let’s break it down. “Batch,” in bartender parlance, refers to a large portion of cocktails mixed up in advance; it’s also used as a verb, as in “I batched all the Negronis for the night already.”
It’s smart to pre-mix a large-format batch of one or two favorite cocktails before a party to cut down on fuss. But it’s also exciting to finish those drinks off à la minute. And you can’t fully batch New Year’s-friendly sparkling cocktails in advance, since you don’t want to lose the carbonation.
So our answer? First, you batch—put together all the ingredients for a half-dozen (or more) servings of a bubbly cocktail, except the bubbles, in advance. Up to a day in advance, even. Pour it into a quart-sized container and stick it in the fridge. Keep a bottle or two of sparkling wine cold, too. And when it’s time to pour a drink? It takes just a few seconds to pour the batch into a flute and top with the bubbles.
Headed to someone else’s party? It works just as well; show up with a jar of pre-mixed cocktail in one hand and a chilled bottle of bubbles in the other. You’ll earn appreciative nods and gushing compliments in equal measure.
Each of these recipes makes six drinks, and uses almost exactly one bottle of sparkling wine. So pop that cork and raise a toast to the New Year!
Meyer Lemon & Mint
Winter isn’t just holiday season—it’s citrus season. And for us, that means Meyer lemon season. Sweet and unbelievably fragrant, Meyer lemons are a cross between a standard lemon and a mandarin orange and have a vibrant, floral scent that reminds us almost of honeysuckle. Their juice makes for incredible cocktails, and doesn’t need much dressing up: Bubbles, vodka, and a mint garnish works perfectly. If you live in warmer climates, you might be lucky enough to have a Meyer lemon tree in your yard; elsewhere in the country, you can often find them at a gourmet market or produce store.
Make the batch: In a resealable quart container, combine 4.5 ounces vodka, 4.5 ounces Meyer lemon juice, and 3 ounces of honey syrup (equal parts honey and hot water, stirred until dissolved). Give a quick stir. Seal the container and refrigerate until it’s time to use.
Make the drink: Give the sealed batch container a quick shake. For each drink, pour 2 ounces of the batched cocktail and 3 ounces of chilled sparkling white wine into a flute. Garnish with a mint sprig, lightly tapping it against your hand to release its aromatics before adding it to the glass.
Note: If you can't find Meyer lemons, standard lemons will do in a pinch; just up the honey syrup to 4 ounces to balance their higher acidity.
Dark Rum & Pomegranate
Rich and wintry, this holiday drink doesn’t taste like a casual spritz—it tastes like a proper cocktail that just gets a little sparkle and lift from the sparkling wine. The dark fruit notes of pomegranate and the gently sweet dark rum are an ideal match, with Angostura bitters lending warm spice and nuance.
Make the batch: In a resealable quart container, combine 6 ounces dark rum (Mount Gay Black Barrel is a good choice here), 4.5 ounces pomegranate juice (POM is widely available), 1.5 ounces of honey syrup (equal parts honey and hot water, stirred until dissolved), and six dashes of Angostura bitters. Give a quick stir. Seal the container and refrigerate until it’s time to use.
Make the drink: Give the sealed batch container a quick shake. For each drink, pour 2 ounces of the batched cocktail and 3 ounces of chilled sparkling wine into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
Cognac & Sherry
In search of the classiest New Year’s Eve drink possible, we turned to Cognac. Distilled from grapes, the spirit plays nicely with any other grape-based ingredient. We’re using three more: Complex, sultry oloroso sherry; sweet vermouth; and, of course, sparkling wine. Together, they blend seamlessly into a weighty, sophisticated sipper that’s sure to be our drink of choice come midnight.
Make the batch: In a resealable quart container, combine 4.5 ounces Cognac (we’re using Rémy Martin VSOP), 4.5 ounces oloroso sherry, and 3 ounces of sweet vermouth, along with 6 dashes of Angostura bitters. Give a quick stir. Seal the container and refrigerate until it’s time to use.
Make the drink: For each drink, pour two ounces of the batched cocktail and three ounces of chilled sparkling wine into a flute. Garnish with an orange peel. (We’re partial to an extravagantly long one. Shorter is fine, too.)