Every great bartender knows that a well made cocktail is well balanced and delicious without the overpowering taste of alcohol. What they also know, but won't necessarily tell you, is that when mixing drinks, there is no need for top shelf liquor since it's being mixed with other things.
This New Year's Eve don't spring for the costly Dom Perignon and Tattinger, but head to your local wine and spirits shop and grab whatever bubbles are on sale. The following recipes were developed using inexpensive sparkling wine and left the tasters satisfied, giddy and in high spirits.
Champagne by any other name can indeed taste as sweet
By law, only sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France can be called Champagne. If it's made in California, it's sparkling wine. If it's made in Spain, it's called cava. If it's made in Italy, it's spumante. In order to find the best deals on bubbles, go for domestic. The bottle I bought was from California and on special for $5.99 (really).
In a perfect world, only the freshest, high-quality ingredients would be used for making drinks. Keeping that same mentality, I bought lemons and tangerines to use for juicing.
Make sure to cut the fruit along the equator, juice thoroughly and remove all the seeds. For other ingredients, bottled ingredients can do quite nicely and save both money and time. Mango juice and pomegranate molasses (both can be purchased at Armenian Delight) are cost-effective and easy to use.
Many mixologists use simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water are mixed together to make a clear sweetener) but I love honey so, I decided to make a honey simple syrup that entailed equal parts honey and water.
Walk gently and carry a thin stick
When mixing drinks with sparkling wine, remember that agitation will cause even more bubbles. Pour with care and stir gently with a skewer, chopstick or end of a long spoon to prevent flare-ups or even worse—a spilled cocktail.
The recipes I have attached are just a starting point. Once you get a feel for what you like to drink and you find yourself more daring to try different things, the sky is the limit.
Experiment with different fruit juices, different sparkling wines, ratios and sweeteners. You might just invent the next big thing. Cheers!