Three, two, one -- Happy New Year! When the ball drops, it's only natural to want to toast with a flute of Champagne. (Or two. Or... well, you know.)
But bartenders around the country are more adventurous, coming up with novel cocktails that express all the festivity of the season but in fun, exciting ways.
Of course, there's always room for sparkle, even beyond classic Champagne. At Pinch Chinese in New York's Soho, beverage director Miguel de Leon created the "Rose Gold." Built from a base of sparkling rosé, Peychaud's bitters dye it pinker still; elderflower liqueur adds a floral note; and a sugar cube creates a stream of enticing bubbles. Rose-scented gold flakes are perfectly decadent for a notoriously decadent night.
At DaDong, at Bryant Park in New York, the "Mandarin Wind" splits boozy and light with Hangar One Mandarin Blossom vodka, hibiscus syrup, lime, and the nonalcoholic Seedlip Garden 108 -- all topped with Prosecco, because this is New Year's, after all. Upstate, The Barn in Bedford, New York, opts for warm, wintery flavors in the "Rosemary’s Revenge," with vodka, cranberry and grapefruit juices, rosemary simple syrup, lemon juice and a big float of Prosecco.
Looking for more of a nightcap, to cap off the year? The Tilden on Ice, from the in San Francisco, brings together an unusual combination of aquavit, gin, green Chartreuse, poblano chile, fino sherry, and lime bitters -- inspired by cold winter mornings in the proprietor's native New Mexico. Down farther south, where there's not quite the same chill in the air, there's the "Don’t Dream It, Be It" at Double Take, located inside the Hotel Palomar Los Angeles-Beverly Hills: bubbles with Giffard peche liqueur, Cointreau, and Angostura bitters.
Champagne? Sure, we'll grab some at midnight. But in the hours before, let's opt for something even more enticing to end the year. Cheers, 2018 -- and to 2019, as well.
[Photo: Carey Jones]