Champagne Bar for New Year's Eve: Three Bubbly Cocktails

New Year's is here, and it’s time for some bubbly to ring in 2011. Instead of pouring straight Champagne, let guests get creative with a bubbly bar – sparkling wine, fruit mixers, and pretty garnishes for festive cocktails.

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For mixers, think outside the mimosa. Set out a spread of juices – pomegranite, pear, cranberry, lychee - and some spiced fruit syrups. If you’re feeling fancy, throw a splash of liquor in the mix (try Campari or St. Germain).

At our New Year's party, we’ll have the makings for these three cocktails (and, if we get ambitious, pretty printed recipes for each drink).

The pear-cranberry cocktail is the easiest – no prep work, just set out the juices. An optional splash of orange bitters adds an herbal edge that plays up the rosemary. The spiced citrus cocktail tastes like a sparkling sangria, bright and lemony. And the pomegranate, the most assertive of the bunch, has a refreshing tang and pop of ginger.

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Sparkling Cocktails
each recipe makes about 12 drinks

Pear-Cranberry Champagne
2 cups pear nectar
2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
Orange bitters
Champagne, or dry sparkling white wine
12 rosemary sprigs
Fresh cranberries

Mix 2 parts sparkling wine to 1 part each pear nectar and cranberry juice. Add a dash of orange bitters (optional). Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and fresh cranberries.

Spiced Citrus Champagne
1 cup water
1/2 cup honey
Zest of 2 lemons, cut into long strips
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 whole star anise
4 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
Champagne, or dry sparkling white wine

Bring water, honey, lemon zest and juice, star anise, cinnamon sticks, and cloves to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes. Cool syrup.

Serve each glass of sparkling wine with 1 tablespoon spiced syrup and a splash of orange juice, to taste. Garnish with a slice of star fruit or a lemon twist.

Pomegranate-Ginger Champagne
3 cups pomegranate juice
3 tablespoon sugar
2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
Champagne, or dry sparkling white wine

Boil first 3 ingredients in heavy small saucepan until syrup is reduced to 1/3 cup, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Cool.

Add 1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup and 2 tablespoons orange juice to each glass. Top with sparkling wine, and garnish with an orange twist.

Related: Festive Champagne and Sparkling Wines to Ring in 2010

(Images: Liz Vidyarthi)