One thing’s for sure: no readathon is complete without beverages – alcoholic or otherwise. Tasha from Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books is a whiz with the booze, so I asked her to offer up some alternatives to straight champagne. She also started a blog called Liquid Persuasion, so if champagne isn’t your thing, head on over there. And now…Tasha recommends:
New Year’s is definitely a champagne lovers’ holiday, but what if you want to drink a cocktail instead? The obvious answer is a champagne cocktail!
There are lots of champagne cocktails, from the French 75 to Death In the Afternoon (which is disgusting, by the way–I’m never trying a cocktail invented by Ernest Hemingway again), but my personal favorite is the Seelbach cocktail, which was named after a club in Louisiana. You’ll need 1 oz bourbon, 1/2 oz Cointreau or a generic triple-sec, 7 dashes Angostura bitters, 7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters [if you can find them--they're not widely available outside of Louisiana. I usually just use orange bitters], and a bottle of champagne. Stir the bourbon, Cointreau, and bitters together in a glass with ice for about 30 seconds, then strain into a chilled champagne flute and top with the chilled champagne (chilling glasses is one of those things that makes people think you know what you’re doing. Just stick them in the freezer or fill them with ice and water for a few minutes). Warning: this cocktail tastes incredible but *really* packs a punch, so you probably want to go easy on it.
If you want to look up some other champagne cocktails, About.com‘s page is pretty good (http://cocktails.about.com/od/cocktailrecipes/a/chmpgn_cktl.htm). I personally like the Night and Day as a classy alternative to the Seelbach.
If you want a cocktail with a low alcohol content that tastes like a yummy holiday punch, Does a bear…? is perfect (yes, that’s the name. I know). You’ll need 1 oz Bärenjäger, 1/2 oz apple cider vinegar, 1/2 oz lemon juice, and 1 1/2 tsp simple syrup (equal parts table sugar and water; I just pour it into a bottle and shake till the sugar’s dissolved, no need to heat over a stove or anything). Shake all the ingredients with ice, then strain into a glass and top with club soda and 1 tbsp of a “full-bodied” red wine (I have no idea what that means; I just used the cabernet we had open). If you don’t have Bärenjäger on hand, you should–it’s great to put in tea with some lemon juice when you have a cold. But I guess American Honey would work just as well. Also, if you don’t happen to have a cocktail shaker? You could probably get away with using a leakproof thermos or any cup with a fitted lid.
For the last cocktail of the evening, let’s get into some advanced mixology. I recently tried this cocktail that Marcus Sakey posted on his FaceBook page (https://www.facebook.com/MarcusSakey). No idea what it’s called, so let’s just go with the Sakey Cocktail. You’ll need: 2 oz Benedectine, 1 ounce gin, 10 dashes angostura bitters, a dash of honey (warmed in the microwave), and 1 egg. Here’s where it gets tricky: put all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake together for 30 seconds. THEN add ice and shake for another 15-30 seconds. Be careful because eggs have gas in them that can blow the lid off your cocktail shaker (yes, this has happened to me, and it was a nightmare to clean up). Then strain into a chilled glass and top with some nutmeg like an eggnog. It’s delicious! Don’t worry about drinking the egg (unless you’re pregnant, in which case you really shouldn’t be drinking cocktails anyway), because the alcohol kills the bacteria in raw egg.
Thanks, Tasha! That last one, in particular, sounds amazing. I hope some of you will check out these recipes and try something new for New Year’s Eve!