New Year’s Eve is odd for its lack of annual traditions that carry the whole long night of celebration. There’s no set menu de cuisine, for example — at least in the U.S. Mainly one stays up late and counts down from ten. There’s the dropping of the ball in city centers around the world and that weird song Auld Lang Syne. And of course, there’s no standard cocktail for the occasion — the same as for most annual traditions, with exceptions like the Kentucky Derby (Mint Julep), Saint Patrick’s Day (Guinness, whiskey), Oktoberfest (beer in steins), and so on. There is a tradition in Germany of watching an old British black-and-white short called Dinner for One, and uncounted other local and regional traditions.
But overall, New Year’s Eve is the most variable of annual holidays, even if celebrants in Spain and Columbia do eat a dozen grapes for good luck during the first 12 seconds of the new year, or Greeks hang onions on their door. Variable.
So to fill the four or five hours before the countdown, every year we face the question: What to do? Here’s one possible answer: Our take on the Saint-Florent. Make a cocktail or, if you’re throwing a party, fill a punch bowl. Check out our tried-and-tested recipe below.
Ingredients & Instructions
For a single cocktail:
- 1½ oz Commonwealth Gin (or any gin you have at hand)
- 1 oz champagne (or sparkling wine, Sprite, 7-Up, etc.)
- ¾ oz Aperol Aperitivo Liqueur (or Cappelletti, or if you can find neither, Campari)
- 1 tsp clover honey
- Four drops bitters — we use Dandelion & Burdock but that’s kind of hard to find; Angostura is fine
- Four drops lime juice
- Garnish with lime rind (or wedge)
- Slice the lime in advance (see link above).
- Mix the honey with one tablespoon of hot water and shake it in a container, like a jar or small Martini shaker, in order to dissolve the honey. No container? Stir it with a swizzle stick.
- Mix the gin and aperitif in a champagne glass.
- Add ice to taste — we prefer a single small cube.
- Add the honey reduction, lime juice, bitters, and stir lightly with a swizzle stick.
- Garnish with a carved lime wedge or rind (classier).
- For effect, add the champagne last and watch it bubble up.
For a crowd-pleasing punch: Just multiply the above portions by the number of guests and servings per! But the portion measurements can be simplified at that scale with some conversions, especially if you’ve already got into the gin. So here’s the recipe for a party of ten, two servings each:
- 30 oz Commonwealth Gin (or any you have to hand)
- 20 oz champagne (or sparkling wine, Sprite, 7-Up…)
- 15 oz Aperol Aperitivo Liqueur (or Cappelletti)
- 10 oz clover honey
- 2 tbsp Angostura bitter
Pour everything into a punch bowl. Then, rather than adding (40) drops of lime juice, lightly squeeze 8 lime wedges into the mixture and toss them in. By next year, your guests may well be sucking the alcohol-soaked fruit. People don’t gulp down lemons like they do apples, say (think Apple Jack), but you may want to take their car keys anyway and request an Uber or Lyft. That’s good hosting.
Let the countdown begin! Seconds ’til midnight from the time of this post:
♦ Bee Gees, Black Diamond. Why link to this? The catchy melody and Robin’s tremolo and ranginess, plus the pre-MTV video (way pre). With just a teaspoon of Auld Lang Syne near the end.