Christmas isn’t even over and already I’m thinking about what to serve for New Year’s Eve. Champagne is, of course, traditional but it might be fun to mix it up with one of my favorite cocktails — the French 75. I’ve never been a huge champagne fan but a little bit adds a celebratory vibe and paired with gin you get a light but potent punch, similar to it’s namesake, the French 75 millimeter artillery used in World War l. I recently discovered an excellent local gin, Voyager made by the Pacific Distillery in Woodinville. These folks seem to have hit upon the right botanical balance with plenty of interest but not overwhelmingly exotic. I suggest splurging on an equally good champagne. It will be the first thing you taste so it will be memorable.
French 75 Cocktail Recipe
2 oz dry gin, Voyager is my choice/ 1 t superfine sugar/ 1/2 oz lemon juice — about 1/2 a lemon/ Champagne to top off, around 5 oz./ lemon twist for garnish
In a cocktail shaker combine gin, sugar and lemon juice/ Shake well with cracked ice/ Strain cold mixture into glass/ If you prefer to serve it on the rocks, fill your glass halfway with cracked ice and strain mixture over ice/ Top off with champagne/ Garnish with lemon twist
Sometimes I feel like forgoing the whole New Year’s Eve thing and bringing the New Year in with a brunch instead.
A cocktail that’s subdued and elegant and would be perfect for a New Year’s Day brunch is one of my all-time winter favorites , Jerry Traunfeld’s Sage Rush from his book, The Herbal Kitchen. I followed his recipe word for word. Given my limited experience as a mixologist, I think it’d be hard to improve upon this combination of fresh grapefruit juice and muddled sage. Once again, try some Voyager gin if you want to serve something extra special.
The Sage Rush
Ingredients for 2 drinks:
6 medium sage leaves/ 1/4 large lemon, cut into 2 wedges/ 2 t sugar (I used demerara sugar)/ 4 oz. gin/ 4 oz. fresh grapefruit juice/ twist of grapefruit peel for garnish.
Put sage leaves, lemon wedges and sugar in a cocktail shaker/ Crush together with about a dozen determined strokes of a cocktail muddler or the end of a slender rolling pin or wooden spoon/ Add gin, grapefruit juice and a large scoop of ice cubes/ Cap and shake vigorously/ Strain into 2 glasses and garnish with grapefruit peel twists.
Cheers and have a Happy New Year!!!