Sparkling Holidays and Sober Sips to Start the New Year

I have a two-parter gift for you this month! It’s still the holiday season, minus the usual full calendar of festivities. But while we are all in semi-lockdown, we still have plenty of choices we can make regarding what and how we will imbibe. For the New Year, let’s consider some drinks to celebrate, and some drinks to recover. 

Just because you aren’t throwing big parties doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy some beautiful sparkling drinks at home. For the first part of this feature, I’ve highlighted a few bubbly go-tos, and a newcomer to try out at home. I’ve also included some food pairing suggestions to indulge in during your micro celebrations. 

For the second part of our story, we’re taking a look at the beginning of 2021 and exploring some options for the sober curious. We’ve stocked the bar with some impressive non-alcoholic spirits and elixirs, and are armed with some serious recipes for an easy “Dry January”. 

Let’s call this “The Season of Sparkling & Sober Sips”.

Plenty of Holiday Sparkle

In the past, I’ve written about sparkling wine, Champagne, and even what to do with left-over Champagne. This time I have specific recommendations for bottles that you can enjoy solo, over Zoom and Facetime with family and friends, or in person with your pod. In fact, since we’re all at home, you can try all three sparkling New Year drinks without worrying about the drive home. We’re feeling especially merry since Costco has come to our rescue with mini-6-paks of the bubbly!  But wait, that’s not all – here are a few pairings to enhance your sparkling experience.

 

Champagne

No argument that Champagne on its own is dreamy.  However, with some time on our hands and the latest Netflix Holiday Round-up, or the newest George Clooney sci-fi, why not try some pairings?

The ultimate Champagne pairing is, of course, Champagne and oysters. Since we’re not enjoying the full spread with bottle service at our favorite fancy restaurants this year, it’s the perfect time to get the hang of shucking oysters at home—and serving them to yourself is incredibly gratifying. Try this twist for an elevated oyster service in your own kitchen.

The Classic Pairing, Updated. Champagne and Oysters with Mignonette and Champagne Vinegar Foam. Made with a fabulous Chef’s trick called Foam Magic, you can have a fun, luxurious experience from the comfort of your own kitchen.

Prosecco

There’s Prosecco, and then there’s Prosecco Superiore, from the impossibly steep vineyards tucked between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene in Italy’s northeastern region. Look for this region on the label of the bottle of Prosecco to ensure this sparkler’s authenticity. This is such an essential region for Prosecco (made from the Glera grape), that in 2019 it was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site.  

I’m of the mind that sparkling beverages aren’t reserved just for dinner celebrations. A chilled glass of Prosecco with a special holiday breakfast can make be an incredibly joyful start to the day. Have breakfast at Tiffany’s (or in your kitchen) with these easy-peasy soft poached eggs, smoked salmon, and Parmesan toasts from Food and Wine Magazine. 

Sparkling Sake

Sparkling Sake is a new entry into the marketplace. While not as popular in Japan as in America, give it time…there are several to seek out.  From Mutual Trading Co. comes Mio Sparkling Sake, on the fruitier side with a lively finish.  For a fuller umami flavor that’s less fruity, try Nanbubijin Awasake Sparkling. Mix it up in 2021 by adding some sparking sake to your new year drinks line-up.

Don’t be intimidated if you don’t immediately know what to pair with sparkling sake. It’s a beautifully flexible drink that most often gets paired with sushi and ramen (eating noodles on January 1st is considered good luck!), but also shines when paired with slightly fat, spicy, and full-flavored foods. I’d suggest trying Deviled Eggs with Sriracha and Wasabi as a fair match with the sparkling sake of your choice!

High Style, Low Octane New Year Drinks for January

Dry January, Drynuary, and Janopause.  We can blame this on one John Ore who coined the term(s) in 2006.  It’s the month of the year when his followers abstain from imbibing alcohol for 31 days. Straight. Shaken, not slurred.

Recently, in an interview, Ore said, that “Drynuary is the Love, Actually of lifestyle choices:  Most people don’t care either way, but return year after year to tell you how good or how bad the decision was.”

So, for the kick-off to what we all are hoping will put 2020 permanently in the rearview mirror of our psyches, I’m here to kick-up the Dry January season with cocktails for the sober-curious – you won’t find any wimpy seltzer water with cranberry juice and squeeze of lime boredom here.  I’ve pulled together some amazing alcohol-free cocktails to make refreshing New Year drinks effortless. Spoiler alert, you may even keep these in your 2021 rotation.

Cocktails featuring Seedlip Elixirs

Seedlip produces a group of elixirs that mysteriously have the weight or mouthfeel that helps make alcohol-based drinks pleasurable.  Likely it has to do with something magic that happens when you distill herbs and spices. Having the opportunity to taste test and play with these elixirs, I am really satisfied with the results. 

Cutting back on alcohol (or cutting it out entirely), even for just a month, can be a bit difficult in a variety of different ways. Not only will the pleasure centers in your brain miss the very real rush it gets from drinking, but your culinary creativity and social interactions can feel a little deflated as well. Luckily, this isn’t the case with these incredible cocktails which will have you shaking and stirring comforting and indulgent drinks that you can’t get enough of.

Thoroughbred Mule

Curiously close to a Moscow Mule, with next to no effort to stir together. No one will even notice you’re going AF.
2 oz Seedlip Grove 42
5 oz Ginger Beer poured in next
Lime Squeeze

Stir with ice, and serve in a copper mug, iced down from the refrigerator or freezer. Garnish with a lime wedge and serve with a metal straw.

The Elderflower Garden

An homage to Hendrick’s and Tonic—you may be tempted to sip on this delightfully refreshing drink all afternoon long. 

2 oz Seedlip Garden 108
5 oz Elderflower Tonic (poured in next)

Stir with ice in a cocktail or Collins glass. Garnish with a cucumber ribbon.

Espresso MartiNO

This rich beverage falls into the category of an Espresso Martini or a Brandy Alexander. Appropriate for before or after dinner, or even breakfast if you’d like!

Into a shaker or Mason Jar pour:
2 oz Seedlip Spice 94
2 oz Coldbrew concentrate (can also be made with refrigerated strong instant coffee)
0.5 oz Simple Syrup

Shake and strain into a Coupe or Martini glass
Garnish with 3 Coffee Beans
Alterative garnish for a creamy finish: Add a float of whipping cream, and then coffee beans

Thank you for following me and engaging with the posts each month.  I so enjoy the conversation.
And, so this is my antidotal gratitude toast to this most abnormal holiday season:
Here’s to what we have in our life that is good, or at least okay, right now.
For zoom which helps glue us together with family and friends.
For being able to eat breakfast any time of day and have work calls in our jammies.
And for 2021 bringing an abundance of only GOOD things.
 — Stacie

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Contributor:  Stacie Hunt, Certified Silver Pin Sommelier/AIS; Vice President National Association of Wine Retailers; International Wine Judge, Author, Spokesperson, and Educator.  As a television and video producer/spokesperson, she is the winner of several national and international broadcasting awards.

Images Courtesy of JohnAdamsFineArt.com, Irish Times, foodandwine.com, JapanTimes, lamtc.com, SeedlipDrinks.com

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