It’s almost New Year’s Eve, which means it’s just about time for party hats, Auld Lang Syne, and, of course, Champagne. To help ensure we reach our bubbles quota this year, bartenders across the city have been topping off their coupes, flutes, and punch bowls with the sparkly stuff, resulting in everything from French 75 riffs to large format fixes. Here are five places where you’re bound to hear bottles popping all night long.
THE SHANGHAI 75 at FUNG TU
The New York Times awarded this Lower East Side restaurant two stars for its seasonal American Chinese fare, and Jason Wagner’s cocktails follow suit. He called upon the classic French 75 as inspiration for this one, which features a choice of gin (the go-to for today’s take), or cognac (the original spirit in a French 75 according to the 1920s Savoy Cocktail Book). It’s then mixed with tarragon simple syrup and lemon juice and topped with prosecco for a bright and frothy finish.
THE KIKO at MAITE
This seasonal New American restaurant specializes in Colombian, Basque and Italian offerings from chef-partner Ella Schmidt, who also helms the drinks list. One of her signatures is the Kiko, a sparkling sipper that receives grapes two ways — via prosecco and the real deal, which flavor and garnish the glass. Leave it to Schmidt to turn your average grapes into something special, thanks to two weeks spent pickling in a blend of Bulleit bourbon, pink peppercorns, rosemary, cloves and sweet chilis.
THE EL CAPITAN at ZENGO
Bubbles may have been the last ingredient that Amauris Bae added to this concoction of pisco, strawberry puree, and pomelo syrup, but it was far from the least. “I was mixing together different fruit juices and syrups to make a refreshing drink, and the final result tasted really good, but it was missing something,” he says. “I topped it with Cava and it was perfect — it really complements the pisco and the strawberry syrup, and makes for a nice holiday cocktail overall.”
OUR CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL at SAXON + PAROLE
Bartender Masa Urushido infuses three red apple cubes with Parole whiskey, Angostura bitters, and rich syrup before they greet a Champagne flute, which is then topped with Veuve Ambal crémant de Bourgogne. A garnish of three more of the whiskied cubes are served alongside the drink, just in case you fancy some extra flavoring.
THE CARLYLE PUNCH at BEMELMANS at the CARLYLE HOTEL
This Upper East Side luxury hotel has many fine features to boast, and several of them can be found at Bemelmans Bar, where a 24-karat gold leaf-covered ceiling and wall murals commissioned by Ludwig Bemelmans himself (the famed children’s book illustrator) welcome patrons. Another one is the Carlyle Punch, a large format libation of Southern Comfort, raspberry vodka, Champagne, and St-Germain from Luis Serrano, the longest tenured bartender on staff.
By Nicole Schnitzler
(Photos from left: El Capitan by Salvador Cortes; The Carlyle Punch by Jeffrey Hinter; The Kiko by Michael Tulipan)