New Year’s Eve is perhaps the most iconic of drinking holidays. While St. Patrick’s Day is notorious for general over-inebriation, Derby Day is famed for its midday Mint Juleps and the winter holidays feature mulled wine, Eggnog and other cold-weather drinks, New Year’s Eve brings a particular level of class and sophistication to drinking. This is, of course, largely to do with the signature drink of the holiday: Champagne.
Not everyone has an appreciation for the bubbly French wines, though. Others prefer to toast the end of the year in style with brightly colored bubbly drinks. The New Year’s Sparkler is such a drink; it’s a breeze to make and can be adjusted to individual tastes.
The sparkling concoction starts with a berry-flavored vodka. Before the boom of craft vodka labels, this would have meant turning to one of a few big-name brands. Today a number of quality brands produce vodkas flavored with real fruits—Wild Roots, in Portland, Oregon, for instance has a number of berry-infused vodkas, including raspberry, marionberry and cranberry. Each bottle is made with more than a pound of berries, most of which is harvested locally. Other brands with quality fruit vodkas include Ciroc, Finlandia and even Grey Goose, which has a strawberry and lemongrass vodka.
Of course, infusing vodka at home is also an option. This gives you control over what type of berries and how much you want to use. While you can use modern devices like sous vide to do so, there’s always the option to add berries to a vodka and let sit in a cool, dark space for a day or two.
However you select your berry vodka, the next step is to add pomegranate, cranberry juice or a mix of the two. As with selecting any juice, the level of sweetness is up to you, but it’s always best to avoid ones with artificial flavorings and sweeteners.
The last bit of the New Year’s Sparkler is the most important: the wine. Since you’ll be mixing it with fruit vodka and juice, don’t use one that’s too pricey (save the cru and grower Champagne for drinking on their own). Or select another kind of sparkling wine, like an affordable prosecco or cava. Just be sure, again, to avoid anything overly sweet—or else the drink could end up a cloying mess.
1 ounce berry-flavored vodka
1 1/2 ounces pomegranate or cranberry juice
3 1/2 ounces Champagne, to top
Garnish: skewered raspberries
Add the vodka and pomegranate or cranberry juice to a chilled Champagne flute.
Top with Champagne and garnish with raspberries on a long skewer.