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Posted on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 5:47 a.m.

Celebrate the new year with some bubbly cocktails

By Jessica Webster


Start your New Year's Eve party off with some champagne-based cocktails this year.

Jessica Webster |

A few years ago, a food blogger described the appeal of Blimpy Burger as evoking nostalgia for things you didn’t even experience. That quote has stuck with me, as it is also an accurate way to depict my love of classic cocktails.

When I’m enjoying a vodka martini, I can imagine my grandmother, living it up the West Village in New York in the 1940s. Sipping on a gimlet, I’m Ernest Hemingway, on safari in Africa. Pour me a negroni and I’m in Italy in the 20s.

New Year’s Eve, an evening custom made for nostalgia - and for drinking - seems like the perfect time to indulge in a cocktail. Or two.

Given my druthers, I’ll always be the host on New Year’s Eve. Part of it is selfish - I’m not fond of driving on the same roads with people who might not be as careful as I am about alcohol portion control.

But the other part of it is that I love holiday entertaining. I love finding tasty appetizers, goofy board games and creative cocktails to share with friends. Build a roaring fire, put together a hip playlist, and you’ve got all the makings of a great night.

For past New Year’s Eve parties, I have struggled with choosing drinks to serve before it’s time to break out the champagne at midnight. What is it … beer before liquor…? Wine is fine when?

And then it occurred to me: why not serve champagne cocktails? They’ve become a favorite of mine when we’re dining out, especially the French 75 at Grange Kitchen & Bar.

Making mixed drinks with champagne? Save your Dom Perignon or Krug for midnight. There’s no reason to pay extra for a bottle of champagne that’s going to be mixed with other flavors. For that matter, you can even avoid paying the premium that comes with sparkling wines from the Champagne region when preparing mixed drinks. A halfway decent sparkling white will do.

Here’s an important champagne cocktail tip: prepare the rest of the cocktail before opening your bottle of champagne. Once the champagne is open, pour and serve immediately.

Please note that the Blood Orange French 75 recipe serves 12, and the Limoncello Sparkle serves 1.

Blood Orange French 75 Cocktail Recipe from Bon Appetit


  • 3 blood oranges (about 1 pound)
  • 1 1/2 cups gin
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon angostura bitters
  • 2 750-ml bottles chilled Champagne


Cut 1 orange in half through stem. Cut each orange half crosswise into 6 slices; reserve for garnish. Using small knife, cut peel and white pith from remaining 2 oranges; chop oranges. Transfer chopped oranges with juices to bowl; mash with potato masher or wooden spoon. Stir in gin, sugar, and bitters. Strain into 2-cup measuring cup, pressing on solids to release liquid. Chill 4 hours.

Pour scant 2 tablespoons gin mixture into each of 12 glasses; fill with Champagne and garnish with orange.

Recipes serves 12.

Limoncello Sparkle from


  • 1 ounce limoncello (an Italian lemon liqueur)
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau
  • Champagne
  • Long lemon peel, for garnish


Combine the limoncello and Cointreau in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake moderately, and strain into a champagne flute. Top with champagne. Garnish with a long lemon peel.

Recipe makes one cocktail.

Jessica Webster leads the Food & Grocery section for Reach her at You also can follow her on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.