The countdown. The pop of champagne corks. The boom of fireworks. Each New Year’s Eve, these sounds echo right around the world.
Yet you’ll still find a local twist to celebrations everywhere. If you’re travelling, New Year’s Eve is a great time to discover how the locals like to party. Even if you’re celebrating closer to home, you can still be inspired by New Year’s traditions and tastes from abroad. It’s as simple as picking (or mixing) a cocktail that conjures up your destination of choice.
French champagne cocktails
Bubbly flows on New Year’s Eve as on no other night. And much of it is that exclusively French tipple, champagne – also the drink of choice for the French when they sit down to their traditional Réveillon feasts on New Year’s Eve.
Why not make your celebrations doubly French this year with a champagne cocktail based on a regional French liquor? I’d go for a Champagne Daisy (with Chartreuse from Grenoble) or a Kir Royale (Crème de Cassis from Dijon, simply topped with bubbly).
Keeping it bubbly, we move on to Venice, Italy, home of the Bellini. Purists insist this prosecco-based concoction should be made only with fresh white peaches when they’re in season (June–September). But trust me: no Venetian bar would be caught without bottled peach purée, which is all you need to make your Bellini froth gloriously on 31 December.
While you’re in the mood, why not adopt some New Year’s Eve rituals from Italy, too – like wearing red underwear!
Whether you’re taking your winter sun holidays over the New Year or just wanting to bring a tropical mood to celebrations at home, it’s hard to go past a daiquiri to get the party started.
The daiquiri hails from Cuba and its frozen form was perfected at Havana’s famed Floridita club (where Ernest Hemingway became a daiquiri devotee). It’s a potent mix of white or golden rum, lime and sugar (and sometimes fruit, too). When frozen, it’s like a languidly refreshing granita – making it the perfect drink to capture the spirit of a Cuban New Year’s Eve, which is a chilled-out family affair.
Speaking of sunshine and rum, why not take your tastebuds to the Caribbean this New Year? White, golden or dark, rum instantly evokes the relaxed, sunny feel of the Caribbean islands, and their freewheeling festival mood on New Year’s Eve.
Rum also makes for some easy solutions if you’re having lots of guests around, such as rum punch or plain old rum and soda.
New York City is home to biggest, best-known spectacle of New Year’s Eve. Roughly one million people gather in Times Square to witness the ‘Ball Drop’ mark midnight, as it has done every year since 1907. Perhaps a billion others around the world watch on video.
If that’s the kind of world-beating New Year’s Eve you’ve got in mind, you’ll need something of a power cocktail to match. Naturally, New York has one of those, too. The Manhattan (whiskey, vermouth and bitters) is a fat, loud drink that’s also beautifully warming. Just the ticket if you’re planning to brave a Northern Hemisphere New Year’s Eve outdoors.
Are you a cocktail connoisseur? Can you tell us about some of the fantastic drinks you’ve tasted abroad?