Champagne is the best way to bid adieu to the old year and bonjour to the new. Drinking champagne to celebrate important social occasions is a tradition that began with the royal courts of Europe, and the practice of popping a bottle of bubbly at the stroke of midnight trickled down to the middle class; many of us commoners keep the ritual near and dear to our hearts, along with a rousing and slightly ad-libbed rendition of Auld Lang Syne.
Real Champagne, the stuff produced and bottled in the eponymous region of France, is often more costly than the sparkling wines of other countries, but if you are whooping it up, and more bubbly is likely to end up on the carpet than in your glass, you can opt for the more cost effective versions; by midnight, it’s the thought that counts. There are some wonderful Canadian sparklers that I’d recommend for tonight’s celebrations, try Hinterland or Henry of Pelham for their beautiful homegrown bubblies.
If you are hosting a party with several guests, you might want to consider building a Champagne Tower, and once all the glasses are filled, let your guests help themselves. From the top only! I first saw one of these in the movie, Shallow Grave, and was keen to try it.
It looks like it will end in disaster but it actually works if you use the proper glassware, the coupe glass.
A really pretty alternative to pouring regular bubbly in the tower would be to use sparkling rosé. Here is a quick and simple demonstration of how to build a tower. The size will depend on how many guests you have and how much they are likely to imbibe.
Many folks like to enjoy their Champagne before the stroke of midnight, and a Champagne Cocktail is an excellent way to do this. The classic Champagne Cocktail is sipped from a Champagne flute, not the delicate Champagne coupe, said to be fashioned after Marie Antoinette’s breast. Certainly we hope that the flute was not modeled after her breast!
To make a classic Champagne cocktail, let three drops of bitters soak into one sugar cube.
Using a long handled cocktail spoon, place the sugar cube into the flute and add one ounce of Cognac. Top with four ounces of chilled Champagne and serve. Of course, there are other cocktails you can make with Champagne, like the French 75, which enjoyed a big comeback a few years ago and is still going strong.
1-1/2 ounces of dry gin
fresh juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. powdered sugar
Shake with cracked ice, pour into glass with ice cubes, fill with sparkling wine. Add a twist of lemon peel.
Not to be outdone by French Champagne, the Bellini is a cocktail that was invented in Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy, named in honour of the great Venetian artist and originally used the sparkling Italian wine, Prosecco. But of course, Champagne works too.
2 oz peach juice
4 ounces Prosecco or Champagne
Pour the peach juice or peach puree into a Champagne flute. Add bubbly.
Finally, there is the remote possibility that you have some unopened bottles of bubbly kicking around on New Year’s Day. If that is the case, we humbly suggest an early afternoon brunch beginning with a Mimosa. Or two. This bright and cheery morning after pick-me-up is named after the brilliant antipodean flower, the Silver Wattle, also known as a Mimosa, on whose effervescent buds the first rays of the new year’s sun will fall. It is super simple; equal parts orange juice and Champagne.
Whatever you choose to celebrate with, be it Champagne or Prosecco, Bud Light, Sparkling Cider or Virgin Pina Coladas – have a safe and happy celebration tonight. To all our customers, staff and readers, Happy New Year and all the best for 2013!