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Raise your glass to these drink offerings

If you want to make sure the food part of your New Year's Eve soiree is handled, check out Laura Reiley's cover story this week. She writes about a clever way to make your Dec. 31 low-maintenance yet still impressive: make-ahead hors d'oeuvres you can freeze then pull out and bake the day you want to serve them. Think bite-sized morsels of flavor served with sauces to punch them up. Prepping these is a perfect activity for this weekend that will leave your holiday (mostly) hassle-free.

Now we need to think about drinks. When it comes to libations on the last night of the year, you've got to get the bubbles flowing. On Page 5E, we have tips for stocking your at-home bar. But if you want to turn sparkling wine or Champagne into a festive drink you can sip all night, here are a few recipe ideas.

Grape Sparklers

This recipe from Food and Wine uses red grapes to add a sweet flavor and a nice presentation. Mint sprigs will leave your breath smelling fresh for that midnight kiss.

To make, thinly slice 1 cup red stemmed grapes and refrigerate. In a food processor, chop another 3 pounds of grapes in batches. Transfer those to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes; the grapes will release their juices. Strain the grape juice into a bowl or pitcher and refrigerate until cold. Per serving, add ¼ cup grape juice to a Champagne flute, then fill the rest of the way with dry sparkling wine. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig and thinly sliced grapes.

French 75

To make this classic sparkly cocktail, fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add 1 ounce gin, ½ ounce fresh lemon juice and ½ ounce simple syrup. Shake well, then pour into a flute and stir in 4 ounces chilled brut Champagne.

Sparkling Orchard Grove

This recipe from the Associated Press caught my eye for its use of seasonal apple cider. To make, combine 1 cup apple cider and ½ cup orange juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Simmer until reduced, about 20 minutes. Set aside. To make one serving, pour ½ ounce of the cider mixture into a flute, then add ½ ounce amaretto liqueur. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with 1 sprig fresh rosemary.

Contact Michelle Stark at mstark@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17.

Raise your glass to these drink offerings 12/24/15 [Last modified: Thursday, December 24, 2015 10:24am]
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