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This is a time of the year when my drinking rules and all “house” policies go out the window. I want something new. I will drink a cocktail through the cocktail hour and the dinner party instead of switching to wine. I sip smoky, tabacco-y scotch. I indulge in a snifter of brandy. Sometimes I mix drinks. Here are a few I’m enjoying this year for New Year’s.
I really like this flavor — it rides the perfect line between bitter and sweet. It goes well with salty snacks or with a full meal. Make sure everything (including the glasses) are as cold as possible.
Four ½-inch thick slices of tangerine (skin and all), pits removed
2 ounces gin, something dry and fairly simple in flavor
2 ounces Campari
2 ounces sweet Vermouth
1. Choose two small-ish glasses and “rub” the rim with one of the tangerine slices. Then add two pieces of tangerine to each glass.
2. In a shaker or any container with a fitted lid, combine the gin, Campari and Vermouth with a few ice cubes and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. Pour and enjoy.
Muddled Mint and Vodka
I know muddling is tedious, so if I want a batch of these drinks when I’m having friends over, I get that part out of the way before guests arrive. You can double, triple or quadruple this recipe without any issues. To save time, buy a container of fresh lime juice and skip the not-so-romantic notion that squeezing limes is fun.
24 mint leaves
2 ounces agave nectar
1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice
4 ounces vodka
1-2 ounces club soda
1. Put the mint leaves on a flat surface and chop with a stainless steel knife. (This helps to avoid discoloration.) Transfer the mint to a bowl, add the agave nectar and “crush” with a whisk, mixing until the mint and nectar combine well. You can set this mixture (or make a larger batch) aside in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
2. Put a few ice cubes and a spoon into each glass. Pour half of the mint mixture into each and, while stirring, pour half of the lime juice, vodka and club soda into each. Enjoy.
I know. As a seasonal chef, it’s not cool to have peaches in December, but peach nectar or puree? Why not? Make it with any dry sparkling wine and save the expensive stuff for sipping solo. My chef-fy touch is a spicy, salty rim.
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon paprika
2 ounces chilled peach nectar or puree
The juice from ½ lemon
5 ounces chilled sparkling wine
1. Combine the salt and paprika in a small bowl. Lightly wet and dip the glass rims in the salt. Take care it’s not too heavy a layer.
2. Pour the peach nectar and a good squeeze of lemon juice into each glass. Top with sparkling wine. Stir. Enjoy.
Mocktails: Sometimes I don’t drink and I always like to have options for those people who don’t. The mint and peach cocktails here are delicious when you substitute club soda for the alcohol. That way, whatever the choice, no one feels left out at the party.
Every week, Alex Guarnaschelli, host of Alex’s Day Off, shares with readers what she’s eating — whether it’s from the farmers’ market or fresh off the boat, she’ll have you craving everything from comfort food to seasonal produce.