Ring in the new year with a champagne cocktail

Brian Rung

    Happy National Champagne Day, everyone. According to research done by WalletHub, approximately 360 million glasses of champagne will be consumed on  National Champagne Day, also known as New Year's Eve. Odds are that you plan to take a sip of bubbly as you watch the ball drop in Times Square.
    Outside of a few wedding toasts, nearly every sip of champagne that I have taken in my life has been at a New Year's Eve party. I am neutral when it comes to champagne. I can't say that I like or dislike it. By no means will I go out of my way to track down a bottle. If it's in front of me during the final minutes of the year, I'll raise a glass and take a few sips.  
    That being said, there is more than one way to enjoy Champagne. Enter the champagne family of cocktails. The most common champagne cocktails are made from two or three common ingredients and are as easy to prepare as they are to enjoy. Champagne is an outstanding cocktail ingredient because it has a unique ability to bring both a sweet and “sparkling” quality to the table. Club soda can bring a fizzy sparkle, simple syrup can bring sweet notes, champagne can do both.
    The Mimosa is the most popular of all champagne cocktails. I'm not sure that brunch even counts as brunch if you don't consume at least one Mimosa. If the New Year's Eve party is at your place, there's a good chance that brunch will be at your place as well.
    Did you know that a true Mimosa isn't “just champagne and orange juice?” That's right, a true Mimosa has a third ingredient: orange liqueur. Since your New Year's Day Mimosas are more than likely going to be hangover helpers, better make it a quality orange liqueur such as Cointreau or Gran Mariner.
New Year's Day Mimosa
    Fill champagne flute 2/3 full with orange juice. Top with sparkling wine, leaving enough room for a teaspoon of orange liqueur (Gran Mariner works best in the Mimosa.)
    Save the Mimosas for brunch, there are four delicious champagne cocktails that will help you dispose of plenty of New Year's bubbly tonight: The Poinsettia, Midori Fizz, Champagne Sunset, and The Bellini.
    These champagne cocktails can be enjoyed both during and after your New Year's celebration, making the champagne family of cocktails is a great way to utilize any leftover sparkling wine.  
    Speaking of leftover champagne, you have about a two- to three-day window in which to consume the contents of an opened bottle if refrigerated. The champagne may be “safe” to consume for up to a week if refrigerated, but it will lose most of its sparkle and will taste like flat citrus soda.  
    It is a good practice to let the bottle “breathe” for a minute upon opening, but be sure to re-cork and place back on ice as soon as the first round has been poured. Refrigerate your bottle immediately after you are finished pouring for the evening. Limiting exposure to air will prolong the life of your champagne virtually guaranteeing delicious New Year's Day cocktails.
    All of this week's champagne cocktails are built and served in champagne flutes.
    Add 1 oz cranberry juice to champagne flute, top with champagne. Add 1 oz of a quality orange liqueur (Gran Mariner or Cointreau) if you would like a bit more kick.
Midori Fizz
    Add 1 1/2 oz Midori to champagne flute, top with your favorite champagne.
Champagne Sunset
    Add 2 oz orange juice to champagne flute and top with champagne. Add a dash of grenadine. Do not stir, let the bright red grenadine will settle to the bottom to form the “sunset” effect. The end result will be both beautiful and delicious.
Champagne Bellini
    Add 2 oz peach puree to champagne flute, then add 1 oz of peach schnapps and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Fill glass to half full with champagne and stir contents, then top glass with champagne. Garnish with slice of peach and/or strawberry.
    Are you among the 67 percent of Americans making a New Year's Resolution?  If so, I hope you find yourself in the eight percent that are successful in keeping it.
    Have a safe and happy New Year, and as always, enjoy responsibly.