AlcoHOLidays | New Year’s Eve | Holiday Sparkler



As the end of the year comes rushing at us, completing our annual cycle, I feel the need to simplify. I think the holiday overwhelm always makes me feel this way, so why complicate things any more than they need to be?

You can’t go wrong with simple Champagne or sparkling wines served chilled in a tall flute to best show off their bubbles. Adding a hulled strawberry or other muddled berries to the bottom of the glass is a nice touch or you can add a splash of your favorite liqueur.

The important thing is to open the sparkling wine correctly. In case you didn’t know, those foamy beginnings you see in movies are actually not to correct way–it means the bottle’s been shaken or otherwise mistreated prior to opening. In fact, there should be nothing more than a gentle pop when the cork comes free (and it’s best to have a bar towel held loosely over the cork to prevent it from flinging all over the room or into something–or someone–breakable).

But you don’t come here for simple, so if you absolutely require something a little more show-stopper, how about giving this a try:

Holiday Sparkler

Sugar Cube
Orange Bitters
1 oz Cranberry Juice
1/2 oz Elderflower Liqueur
1 oz [yellow tail] bubbles Rosé

Soak the sugar cube in the bitters and place in the bottom of a champagne flute. Add in the cranberry juice and elderflower liqueur, then top with the sparkling wine. Pour slowly and let the bubbles do the work. A slice of strawberry or a rock candy swizzle stick make sweet garnishes.

Elderflower liqueur–a classic spirit making a comeback in cocktail circles–in still an unknown for many, so offers that little something extra for your guests. And pulling out a box of sugar cubes always tends to spark interest in that it’s-so-retro way.

However you choose to celebrate, remember to stay hydrated with water between cocktails, make use of a designated driver or the ample public transportation systems sure to be out in force Monday night, or party at home and invite inebriated guests to spend the night rather than risk it on the roads.


(recipe and image courtesy of the Deutsch Family of Wine and Spirits)


Sips & Shots will be going on “holiday” for the month of January, along with the rest of the sites in the Helper Monkey Network, so that some much needed behind the scenes work can be taken care of. We’ll be back in full force come February!

A Trio of Champagne Cocktails


For some folks, leftover wine or champagne is a problem they never have. Todd and I, though, in exercising moderation, frequently have to store leftover wine for a night or two. While there’s nothing wrong with drinking it with more than one meal or even having a glass after work now and then, sometimes it’s nice to mix things up a bit.

This goes double for Champagne and other sparkling wines.

Maybe you chilled more wine than you needed and maybe you now need that space for non-festive groceries for the new year. Why not go beyond the brunch standards of mimosas and bellinis, and try a couple of these champagne cocktails courtesy of Sams Club.

The CÎROC® Royal Grape

Ciroc Royal GrapePreparation Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1


  •          1 oz. CÃŽROC® Vodka
  •          1 oz. white grape juice
  •          1 splash(es) champagne
  •          1 piece(s) grape


1.        Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled glass.

2.       Top with a splash of champagne and garnish with a frozen grape.

Smirnoff No. 21® Vodka & Champagne Sparkle

Smirnoff No 21 Vodka & Champagne SparklerPreparation Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4-6


  •          1.5 cups SMIRNOFF NO. 21® Vodka
  •          2 bottles Moët & Chandon Champagne
  •          1.25 cups pomegranate juice
  •          1 cup simple syrup
  •          thinly sliced lemon


1.        Combine ingredients in a punch bowl with ice.

2.       Add simple syrup to taste.

3.       Mix in lemon slices.


GinZizzz CocktailPreparation Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1


  •          3/4 ounce gin
  •          1/2 ounce Simply Orange®
  •          1/4 ounce Cointreau®
  •          Ice cubes
  •          2 to 3 ounces cold Champagne
  •          1 splash orange water or rose water, optional
  •          1 long strip orange peel for garnish


1.        Pour gin, orange juice and Cointreau into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake to chill.

2.       Pour mixture into a Champagnes flute and top with Champagne. Add orange flower water or rose water, if desired.

3.       Garnish with orange peel, if desired.