By Gretchen McKay


Some sparkling recipes for holiday drinks

Categories : Food , Uncategorized


Pomegranate Sparkler, left, and Tangerine, Campari and Soda/Gretchen McKay

New Year’s, the biggest party night of the year, is just a little over a week away, and hosts across the globe will be looking for that one special beverage to keep their guests smiling — and sipping — until the ball drops at midnight, if not well after.


Tradition holds there will be some sort of bubbly with which to ring in 2012. My vote goes to an extra-dry prosecco, a sparkling Italian white wine that has soared in popularity in recent years, and which I love served in a tall and narrow flute so the nose-tickling bubbles and aromas stay inside the glass.

Still, nothing sets the party scene like a pretty signature cocktail.

A drink doesn’t have to be fussy to impress your party guests, or made with exotic ingredients you’ll have a hard time finding (and probably won’t use again until your next party). It simply has to be fresh and delicious.

Then again, on this night in particular, when revelers are in an especially festive mood and any resolutions to lose weight or eat a better diet are still at least a day away from being tested, no one’s going to complain if the drink in his or her hand is a bit more “fun” than usual.

A spoonful of pomegranate arils, for example, will add crunch along with visual interest to a glass of sparkling wine, and a bartender never can go wrong by garnishing a drink with a long curlicue of citrus peel. Or a slice of fresh fruit, for that matter.

Another easy and inexpensive way to dress up a sweet cocktail (and when you’re the hostess, “easy” is important) is to rim the glass with a little fruit juice and then dip it into granulated sugar or crushed hard candy. Consider it the cocktail version of a sequined blouse or glittery party hat.

It’s New Year’s Eve, after all, when everything and anything is possible! Start your calorie-counting the next day.

Pomegranate Sparkler

PG tested

This bubbly pink cocktail is definitely worth the stained fingers a pomegranate always seems to entail. I substituted prosecco just because I love it, but any sparkling wine will do.

  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) pomegranate liqueur, chilled
  • 4 cups (1 quart) California sparkling wine, chilled
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
  • Chilled champagne flutes

To make each drink, pour 3 tablespoons (11/2 ounces) liqueur into a flute. Gently pour 1/2 cup (4 ounces) sparkling wine over the liqueur. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons pomegranate seeds and serve immediately.

Makes 8 drinks.

— “Great Gatherings: Star Chefs Entertain at Home” by The Macy’s Culinary Council (Book Kitchen, $29.95)

Limoncello Martini

Cafe Notte in Emsworth uses Danny DeVito’s limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur, in this sweet-sour holiday cocktail. For a more elegant presentation, take a chilled martini glass, run a lemon wedge around the rim, and then dip the glass into a plate of fine sugar.

  • Ice
  • 1 ounce limoncello
  • 1 ounce citrus vodka
  • Splash of simple syrup
  • Lemon twist for garnish >Fill cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add limoncello, vodka and simple syrup. Shake.Strain and pour the cocktail into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.Makes 1 drink.

    — David Mielnicki, Cafe Notte, Emsworth

    Kim’s Strawberry-BASIL Sparkler

    PG sampled

    My girlfriend Kim is always the life of the party, thanks to her awesome bartending skills (her family owns Alexander’s Italian Bistro in Bloomfield). This drink can be served straight up in a champagne glass, or over ice in a goblet. Make sure you tear the basil by hand because, says Kim, “Italians NEVER cut basil. It’s bad luck.”

    • 1 cup fresh strawberries or raspberries, finely chopped
    • 1 bunch fresh basil, ripped into little pieces
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 to 2 cups good vodka
    • Bottle of procescco (Italian sparkling wine)

    Mix berries, basil, sugar and vodka together in a container, and let it sit in fridge for a few hours or overnight to allow the sugar to dissolve.

    To serve, place a tablespoon of the berry mixture in bottom of glass. Top with prosecco and serve. Yum!

    Makes 6 to 8 drinks.

    — Kim Colaizzi Ifft, Ben Avon

    Winter Sangria

    Seeing not everyone imbibes, and ginger ale is oh-so-boring, you’ll probably need at least one tasty mocktail to ring in the New Year. This festive recipe showcases some favorite seasonal fruits kids love and as a plus, is packed with antioxidants. Consider it a preemptive strike on 2012.

    • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened black cherry juice
    • 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (from 1 pomegranate)
    • 1 navel orange, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
    • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced into wedges
    • 1 1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
    • 3 cups seltzer, chilled
    • 1 cup ginger ale, chilled
    • Ice

    In a large pitcher, combine cherry juice, pomegranate seeds, orange, apple and maple syrup. Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. Stir in seltzer and ginger ale. Serve over ice.

    Makes 10 servings.

    — Parkhurst Dining Services

    Hot Spiced Cider

    PG tested

    This will help break the ice on a chilly New Year’s Day.

    • 1 half-gallon apple cider
    • 2 cinnamon sticks
    • 8 whole cloves
    • 2 whole star anise
    • 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
    • 2 inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
    • 2-to-3-inch piece orange or lemon peel, pith removed

    Pour apple cider into a medium pot. Heat to boiling then reduce to a very low simmer (no more than a lazy bubble or 2). While it comes to a boil, wrap seasonings in cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine (this is optional but makes it easier to take them out). Place seasoning packet in apple cider. Mostly cover and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, or until apple cider has reached desired level of spice. Can serve hot or chilled. Add a shot of bourbon or rum to a 6-ounce pour of cider for a delicious seasonal cocktail.

    Makes about 10 6-ounce drinks.

    — China Millman

    Mulled White Wine

    This warming drink has all the flavor of the classic red version, but is lighter in body.

    • 1 orange
    • 5 whole cloves
    • 3 whole star anise pods
    • 1 piece (1-inch) peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
    • 1 cup water
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 bottle (750 mL) medium-bodied white wine, such as a Viognier or an oaked Chardonnay

    Peel orange in strips using a vegetable peeler, being careful not to remove any pitch. Push cloves into peel.

    Combine clove-studded peel, star anise, ginger, water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add wine. Let stand for 20 minutes to mull.

    Just before serving, gently reheat mulled wine over medium heat until just beginning to simmer. Serve warm.

    Serves 6.

    — Martha Stewart Living, Jan. 2012

    Tangerine, CAmpari and Soda

    PG tested

    With its colorful swirl of orange and red, the drink is as festive as it is fresh. Best of all, it can made quickly — no small thing for a busy host.  Some groceries carry fresh-squeezed tangerine juice, but it’s just as easy to make your own. Serve with a long curl of peel or a slice of tangerine on the rim of a highball glass.  These are pretty with or without the frosted glasses.

    • 14 tangerines
    • 1 quart soda water
    • 8 ounces Campari

    Juice 12 of the tangerines and chill the juice. Cut the remaining 2 tangerines into 1/8-inch slices. Fill 8 highball glasses with ice and place 2 tangerine slices in each glass and fill the glass to 2/3 full with soda water. Pour in Campari to fill the glass and float 1 or more tangerine slices on top.

    Serves 8.

    — “Mario Batali Holiday Food” (Clarkson Potter, 2000)

    Pineapple and Sweet White Vermouth (Acqua D’Ananas)

    PG tested

    This vermouth-based cocktail is made with fresh pineapple. Best served in a frosted martini glass.

    • 1 whole pineapple (2 pounds) peeled, cored and cut into 2-inch chunks
    • 1 fifth sweet white vermouth (PLCB has Dolan Sweet Vermouth by special order), divided
    • 1 bunch tarragon leaves

    Chill martini glasses in the freezer until very cold. Place the pineapple in a blender with half of the vermouth. Blend until smooth and pour, over ice, into the martini glasses, garnish with sprigs of tarragon, top each glass with a splash of vermouth and serve.

    Serves 12.

    — “Mario Batali Holiday Food” (Clarkson Potter, 2000)