Like most things in 2020, the way you see in the upcoming New Year will probably be very different from previous ones. Let’s just say it’s likely to be a little more solitary and a whole lot more reflective. However, while Covid-19 may have stolen nine months of our lives, not to mention Christmas, there’s no way it’s going to stop us from raising our glasses to a better, brighter, more hopeful year ahead.
So forget simply pouring yourself a glass of fizz to toast in 2021, this one deserves more thought, care and attention. Cocktails fit the bill perfectly. After all, we all have more time on our hands to mix up something special. Not that we’re advocating anything complicated (who needs the faff?) but New Year’s Eve 2020 tipples should be super-tasty.
Dress up and share some bubbly concoctions with your designated bubble and Zoom party, or go old school and toast 2021 with a wassail. And don’t worry if you’re off the sauce or starting Dry Jan a day early, we’ve got some non-alcoholic options as well.
As featured on Robert Elms’ BBC Radio London show 30/12/2020
Long before the ‘pop’ of a Champagne bottle became synonymous with New Year’s Eve celebrations, it was a British custom to see in the New Year with a wassail. What’s that when it’s at home? you may well be thinking. Allow us to demystify…
Dating back to Anglo-Saxon times, a wassail is a warm, spiced drink – usually cider, perry or ale-based – which would be placed in a wooden bowl decorated with holly and ivy and served to neighbours to wish them health and prosperity. The word itself comes from Old English ‘was hal’, ‘was hael’ meaning to your health, as in the traditional carol “Here We Come A-Wassailing”.
Recipes vary but this one works a treat if you’re spending New Year’s Eve in a larger bubble:
6 small apples, cored
6 teaspoons soft brown sugar
200g caster sugar
2 litres cider
300mls sherry or Madeira
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 lemon, halved
Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.
Core each apple with a sharp knife and place in an oven proof dish.
Fill each apple core cavity with a teaspoon of soft brown sugar. Stud the orange with the cloves and place with the apples in the dish. Add approx 6 tbsp of water and roast in the oven until apples are soft but still retain their shape (roughly 30-45 mins).
Leave the apples in the dish to keep warm and take the orange out – cut in half and place it in a large sauce pan. Add the rest of the ingredients and the juices from the apple roasting dish to the sauce pan and heat gently until sugar has dissolved.
Bring the mixture to the boil, then turn down the heat immediately and keep warm. When you’re ready to serve, ladle the fruit and spiced liquid into a large punch bowl, then pour the wassail into the bowl. Float the apples on top.
TIP: The spiced apples can be used as a dessert, served with cream or hot custard.
Hot Spiced Apple
A simpler, non-alcoholic version
500ml apple juice
Strips of orange peel
Strips of lemon peel
sugar or honey to taste
Simmer the apple juice with the strips of orange peel, cinnamon stick, nutmeg and cloves for 5-10 mins until flavours have infused. Garnish with orange peel and cinnamon stick.
TIP: For an alcoholic version, add apple cider and apple brandy or spiced rum instead of apple juice.
Celebrations, New Year’s Eve and otherwise, have long been associated with Champagne. Not surprising really. Champagne is associated with prosperity. You can use the real stuff if you’re feeling particularly flush but these bubbly cocktails work equally well with Cava or any dry sparkling wine.
All recipes serve one unless stated. Chill glassware ahead of serving.
15ml sweet vermouth
Prosecco or sparkling white wine
Orange rind to garnish
Stir gin, Campari and vermouth in over ice in a mixing glass. Pour into the chilled Champagne flutes and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with orange twist.
Juice of 6 clementines, plus 2 extra for garnish
1 bottle sparkling wine
Mix clementine juice, vodka and Cointreau in a jug. Place in the fridge to chill for minimum one hour.
Slice the 2 remaining clementines. Place one in a Champagne flute or Martini glass then half fill with the clementine vodka mixture. Top with the sparkling wine.
12.5ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
12.5 sugar syrup
Lemon peel to garnish
Add first three ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake hard then strain into a chilled Champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine or Champagne. Garnish with a long strip of lemon peel.
TIP: Switch things up and swap out the gin for your favourite spirit. Try pisco, tequila, rum or brandy.
Sloe Gin Fizz
15ml sloe gin
15ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon twist to garnish
Place first four ingredients in cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake then strain into chilled Champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with lemon twist.
The Old Cuban or Champagne Mojito
40g caster sugar
juice from 1/2 a lime
70ml Bacardi 8 Year Old dark rum
2 dashes Angostura bitters
6 leaves fresh mint
50ml sparkling wine
Muddle lime leaves in bottom of shaker with the lime juice and simple syrup. Add the rum and bitters and fill the glass with ice. Shake well until chilled. Double strain through a fine-mesh sieve into large coupe or Martini glass. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a lime leaf.
Pimm’s Royal Punch
(makes 12-15 serves)
Peels of 2 lemon, plus 2 lemons slice into wheels
Quarter cup granulated sugar
11/2 cups thinly sliced cucumber wheels
1 orange sliced into wheels
16ozs Pimm’s No 1
4 ozs orange juice
2 ozs lemon juice
1 bottle champagne
Garnish with strawberries
Place peels in a pitcher with the sugar. Muddle then cover and sit for an hour. Add lemon wheels, cucumber wheels, grapefruit wheels, orange wheels, Pimm’s, orange and lemon juice. Stir until sugar has completely dissolved and refrigerate for 3 hours or so.
When ready to serve transfer to a punch bowl (or jug) and slowly add Champagne and ice. Garnish with strawberries.
LOW ABV OPTION
St-Germain Festive Spritz
40ml St. Germain elderflower liqueur
60ml sparkling water
Combine all ingredients over ice in a Collings glass. Stir gently. Garnish with a lemon twist, orange wheel and star anise (optional).
Serve Æcorn Dry aperitif over ice in a wine glass, topped with a splash of sparkling water and a slice of lemon
LONDON BARS OFFERING NYE DELIVERY
Don’t fancy making your own cocktails? No worries. Get the NYE drinks in from the following London bars:
The Drinks Drop
Orders placed before 3pm for same day delivery to most London postcodes.
On the menu: A winning selection of cocktails from 10 London top bars including Artesian, Satan’s Whiskers, Swift, Trailer Happiness and Happiness Forgets.
Choose from boxes of two and six single serves, £7.50 each.
Find out more: thedrinksdrop.com
Heads + Tails
Order between 2pm-10pm for same delivery through Slerp. Takeaway available from the West End Lane bar on New Year’s Eve before 9pm.
On the menu: The New Year’s Eve box containing Champagne, truffles, snacks, almonds, confetti canons and NYE Spotify playlist, plus 50cl cocktail of choice (£90).
Find out more: headsandtails.slerp.com
Available to pick up from Crossroads, Royal College Street, NW1 up to New Year’s Eve.
On the menu: Choose from six bottled cocktails available in 200ml (£14) and 500ml (£32) sizes, or go for the New Year’s Eve box, your choice of three 200ml serves (£39).
Find out more: crossroads.bar
Local deliveries in Crouch End, Holloway and Highgate, north London until 11pm New Year’s Eve
On the menu: A selection of gift boxes including five 100ml bottles (£29); one 500ml and two 100ml bottles (£39), and the Party Box (Prosecco, 2 bottles Bellini, 1 bottle grapefruit spritz, mixed nuts, olives and party poppers, £110).
Find out more: littlemercies.co.uk
Cocktail Trading Company
Same day London deliveries, 5-8pm.
On the menu: A selection of two serve, big bottles and New Year’s Eve packs including cocktails such as Snickers Old Fashioned, Scotch and Strawberry (prices from £12.50). All orders include a bag of Monkey Nuts unless you ask, dad joke and link to playlist.
Find out more: thecocktailtradingco.slerp.com
Have a happy, healthy and safe New Year.