Happy New Year Cocktails to Ring in the New Year

By on December 31, 2016

Down in Houston, where I lived for many years, they know a thing or two about throwing a party, and New Years is the perfect time for a doozy. My friend, Robin Sussman offers some great recipes for cocktails plus a clip and save piece on Houston watering holes, should you be in the neighborhood. Bottoms Up
Happy New Year’s Ya’ll.

Recipes by Robin Sussman

’Tis the season for libations merry, bright and bubbly. Champagne cocktail, anyone? Here are six inspired sparkling cocktails to tipple around town this holiday season. Or stay at home and shake up your own party with the recipes below.

4315 Montrose Blvd., 713-524-0070, cafeazurhouston.com
At new Cafe Azur, expect one of the most extensive lists of Champagne cocktails in Houston. “The goal is quick but high-quality craft cocktails,” says owner Sidney Degaine. “We infuse flavors into spirits via the sous vide method and use Champagne instead of sparkling wine because, well, ‘when in France.’” Before The French Girl is topped off with Champagne, its vodka has co-mingled with fresh vanilla bean and star anise making the base for a very potent cocktail. Ditto the Limoncello cocktail, a marinade of fresh lemon rind, blood orange rind, sugar, water and vodka doused with Champagne before serving. For something lighter, the classic Bellini made with fresh peach purée and Champagne is ideal with the new brunch menu.

Limoncello Cocktail
1 oz. limoncello
6 oz. Champagne
METHOD: Pour limoncello in a flute. Top off with Champagne.

1200 McKinney St., 713-658-1995, and other location, pappasbros.com
Corporate concept bar manager Matt Tanner just rolled out an ambitious new cocktail menu, and the Columbia River Fizz Champagne cocktail is a beauty. The elegant drink is a heady mix of house-infused strawberry Aviation American gin, egg white, Becherovka bitters, Giffard vanilla liqueur, lemon juice and simple syrup. After lots of shaking, the creamy strawberry-and-cinnamon-flavored concoction is poured into a delicate Alsace glass and finished with Andre Clouet Rosé Champagne and a lovely spritz of orange blossom water. “We pour some of the highest-quality Champagnes available by the glass and the bottle, so why not use only the best in our cocktails?” says Tanner. Other bubbly cocktails to consider: Swedish Champagne, a mélange of fruit and Absolut Elux served in a copper pineapple Moscow mule cup, and the French 75.

Columbia River Fizz
1 ½ oz. strawberry Aviation American gin
½ oz. Becherovka bitters
¼ oz Giffard vanilla
¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
1 egg white
Andre Clouet Rosé Champagne
1 spritz of orange blossom water

METHOD: Place all ingredients except Champagne, orange blossom water and ice in a shaker and shake for 15 seconds. Fill mixer with ice. Shake vigorously for 20 to 30 seconds. Pour in an Alsace glass. Fill the glass with Champagne. Spritz with orange blossom water.

4444 Westheimer Rd., Unit A01, 713-322-7448, steak48.com
So what is the ubiquitous French 75 and when was it invented? The classic is made with Cognac or dry gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar and served in a Collins glass garnished with a lemon twist. No one seems to know the exact origin of the cocktail, but it is said to have appeared around 1927 at the height of Prohibition and it really stuck. At new and bustling Steak 48, the French 75 is crafted with lemon juice, Hendricks gin and St. Germaine and topped with Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut, a sparkler from California. Crisp, delightful and wickedly intoxicating, it’s shaken in a cocktail shaker with ice, strained and served very cold.

French 75
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. Hendricks gin
½ oz. St. Germaine
Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut

METHOD: Shake all ingredients except sparkling wine in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a flute and top with sparkling wine.

111 Studewood St., Unit B, 832-582-7146, arthuravehou.com
The Amaro Fizz quickly became a signature drink at Arthur Ave in The Heights. Bartender Lainey Collum, formerly with The Hay Merchant and The Pass & Provisions, gets creative with her riff on the iconic gin fizz by adding Italian influences to match the restaurant’s Italian-American menu. She shakes up limoncello, Amaro, Aperol, cream, lime juice, grapefruit juice, homemade rhubarb syrup and egg white until a meringue forms. Finally, she crowns the gorgeous concoction with a foamy head of Prosecco. The irresistible peachy-hued cocktail tastes creamy and indulgent but tart with citrus flavors and brisk with sparkling wine.

Amaro Fizz
¾ oz. limoncello
¾ oz. Cocchi Amaro
¾ oz. Aperol
¾ oz. rhubarb syrup (recipe follows)
½ oz. lime juice
½ oz. grapefruit juice
½ oz. heavy cream
1 egg white
¾ oz. Prosecco
grapefruit peel for garnish

METHOD: Mix all ingredients except Prosecco, ice and the garnish together in a shaker. Shake without ice to get the egg white broken up for approximately 8 to 10 seconds. Add ice. Shake for approximately 5 minutes to form the meringue. Pour into highball glass and let the meringue settle. Top with Prosecco. Garnish with a piece of grapefruit peel.

Rhubarb Syrup
1 quart water
1 ½ quarts sugar
1 lb. rhubarb, coarsely chopped.

METHOD: Mix all ingredients together and bring to a boil. Bring the heat down to medium low. Let rhubarb steep for 30 to 45 minutes. Strain and bottle. The syrup will keep for 1 month if refrigerated.

1121 Uptown Park Blvd., 713-993-9800, and other locations, tastingroomwines.com
In case you missed it, The Tasting Room in Uptown Park now serves cocktails in addition to wine and also added an oyster bar earlier this year. On the new cocktail menu, find the Miette (pictured below, far left), a Champagne cocktail that starts with Aperol, a liqueur with strong orange and mandarin flavors, slight bitterness and easy sweetness. Added to this, Lillet Blanc with flavors of honey, citrus and mint, and creamy Moet Imperial to top it off. A favorite combination for Champagne purists in Europe, it makes for a refreshing, light and uncomplicated cocktail that lets the Champagne shine. And unlike some cocktails, it pairs well with food.

Miette Cocktail
1 ¼ oz. Lillet Blanc
½ oz. Aperol
¼ oz. fresh lemon juice
¼ oz. simple syrup
1 oz. Moet Imperial

METHOD: Mix all ingredients except Champagne in a shaker. Pour into a Champagne flute and top with Moet Imperial.

BY Robin Barr Sussman | SIDEDISH | DECEMBER 15, 2016

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