Holiday Party Guide - New Year's Eve

I worked at a gallery for a few years, and at this place they played the same holiday music over and over.  I particularly remember hearing sumptuous voice of Ella Fitzgerald singing, "maybe it's much to early in the year, oh but I thought I'd ask you just the same, what are you doing, New Year's, New Year's Eve."  Which is a great song.  The first 500 times you hear it.  But anyway, my point here, really, is that maybe it's much too late in the year, oh but I thought I'd ask you just the same, what are you doing New Year's, New Year's Eve? 

My problem with New Year's is that I like bubbly drinks and sparkles.  A lot.  But, I also like being at home once 10 pm rolls around.  The solution?  New Year's at home with friends while still wearing sparkles!  It's doable.  I swear!  And, even if you've already got your New Year's plans figured out, we have some cocktail and food suggestions that are so dang good, you'll probably want to add them to your plans because you're not going to want to let this year end without giving them a try!  Read on...

THE DRINKS

The Bitter Frenchman - like a French 75, but with a sophisticated edge from a splash of Campari.

  • 1 oz. Boreal Juniper Gin
  • 1/2 oz. Campari
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 1/4 oz. lemon juice
  • dry champagne, or other sparkling wine
  • Shake all the ingredients, except the champagne, with ice until chilled, then strain into a cocktail glass or champagne flute and top with the champagne.

Teatime with the Romanoffs - what you get when you take a Moscow Mule and replace the ginger beer with ginger syrup and champagne.  Completely worth fomenting a revolution for.

  • 3/4 oz. Lake Superior Vodka
  • 1/2 oz. ginger syrup 
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • dry champagne, or other sparkling wine.
  • To make the ginger syrup, combine 1/2 cup finely sliced fresh ginger, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, simmer for a couple minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to steep for at least an hour before straining.  Refrigerate for up to a week.
  • To make a cocktail, shake the vodka, ginger syrup, and lime with ice until chilled. Strain into a coupe or flute and top with the champagne.

Old Lang Syne Fashioned - an aquavit and maple old fashioned. Old acquaintance may be forgot, but not this cocktail.

  • 2 oz. Voyageur Cognac Cask Aquavit
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 2 dashed orange bitters
  • Stir all the ingredients with ice until well chilled.  Strain into an old fashioned glass over a large ice cube.  Garnish with an orange twist, if desired.

THE FOOD

Sauteed dates with sea salt - also known as one of the very easiest and very best appetizers I've ever made.

Spiced nuts - because it's not a party without bowls of nuts (I made this recipe without pretzels because of the number of us who are gluten free).

Butternut Squash compote and ricotta on toast - a) everything is good on toast and b) this butternut squash concoction is so good, you don't even need toast.

Fennel, apricot, and prosciutto salad - light but filling, and Italian-ish, which definitely equates to classy:  Trim and core 2 large fennel bulbs, then slice thinly with a mandoline and toss with 6 thinly sliced dried apricots.  Whisk together 2 Tbs. olive oil, 1 tsp. rice wine vinegar 2 tsp. lemon juice, and a tsp. each of dijon mustard and honey and a pinch of salt.  Use this to dress the fennels and apricots, then spread on a platter and nestle in torn pieces of prosciutto.

Orange, avocado, and olive salad - just because there are no vegetables growing at this time of year doesn't mean salads have to be boring:  Cut the peel off of 4 oranges, and slice them into disks.  Arrange these on a platter with sliced avocado (I used 2 avocados), a handful of olives, and a handful of fresh mint.  Drizzle with some lemon juice and olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.

Chocolate bark with mangos and ginger - follow these directions, and top the bark with chopped, dried mangos, chopped crystallized ginger, and a couple pinches of sea salt.  

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