To me, the meaning of New Year’s Eve is to open our hearts and express gratitude for all the wonderful things, people, and experiences we have. Just say “bye-bye” to all the crappy things that may have become septic in your life. Tie them up in a small package and set them free to fly far away…or throw ‘em in the dumpster!
So now, in honor of being grateful for what we do have, and getting rid of what we don’t need, lets jump out of the 2017 mud puddles with a Hershey bar in hand!
Spend this end-of-the-year holiday surrounded by positive people…or hey, if you’re like me, positive dogs! We get down in party hats, dance to great music, eat yummy treats (they love pigs in a blanket), and sip on great drinks (that’s just for me), while we wait for the ball to drop.
In honor of my hack-themed holiday suggestions this year, I’m also giving you some tips for celebrating the new year without stressing out. I like to call these my, “batch-it-up and chill out” party recipes.
This is how you avoid playing bartender all night, while still throwing a great party…and that could be a party for one or 100!
- Prepare garnishes ahead of time so you and your guests can grab and go.
- Group all the garnishes together so that no one misses a beat.
- Keep all your liquids cold to reduce how much ice you use (no one likes a watered down drink).
- Freeze the liquor – but not the sparkling wine or champagne, as those will freeze solid.
Need quick food ideas too? Check out my holiday hacked appetizers, soups and salads or make a big Buddha Bowl of your favorite one pot dish and everybody can serve themselves.
Now onto the drinks!
Old Fashioned Rye Whiskey:
- 1 bottle (750 ml) Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey (remember to freeze it!)
- 1 oz. simple syrup (half sugar and half water dissolved together)
- 10-12 dashes Angostura orange bitters *
- 4 oz. water
- 3-4 small oranges sliced in clean rings ¼-⅓ inch thick, (cut enough slices for each drink) *
- 1-2 jars whole cherries with stems
- 1 15 oz. jar sparkling white sugar
- 4-6” skewers (I like the ones with a decorative top)
Chef Gerrie’s Notes:
* Angostura orange bitters: If you can’t find Angostura orange bitters or don’t want to buy it try this instead — when making the simple syrup, add a slice of orange and zest to it. Let it set for a few hours and then strain. Hold in glass container.
* Orange slices: You could also use these Dryden Amber Sugar Sticks.
- Combine whiskey, simple syrup, orange bitters, and water and keep refrigerated.
- Prepare garnish by dipping orange slices into sparkling sugar and skewer, leaving enough room for the cherry with the stem. If you have a decorative style skewer, you want that part sticking up out of the glass. If the skewer is too long, just cut a little off to fit.
- Freeze skewers on aluminum foil until they’re ready to be served.
- Pour drink mixture into a pitcher for guests to serve themselves and set out with garnish right next to it. Serve in whiskey glasses, or whatever you’ve got!
Chilled Thyme Punch:
Makes 2 gallons
If you’d like to make this non-alcoholic, just omit the alcohol and substitute with flavored club soda, sparkling grape juice, or more ginger ale.
- 4 containers frozen limeade concentrate (if you can’t find limeade, lemonade works too)
- 1 bottle (750 ml) vodka (see my suggestions in the Bloody Mary recipe above) or white rum (I like Bacardi) – keep in the freezer!
- 1-2 bushels (Bu.) fresh thyme, six or seven sprigs, reserve more for garnish
- 1-2 bushels (Bu.) fresh mint, six or seven sprigs, reserve more for garnish
- 2 16 oz. containers of frozen strawberries with syrup
- 1 Lb. fresh strawberries
- 8 oz. fresh blue or blackberries
- 3-4 each fresh sliced limes
- 1-2 liters ginger ale, to taste, keep cold
- 1 bottle (750 ml) rosé sparkling wine, keep cold
- Combine the vodka or rum with the thyme and mint (stems and all) and refrigerate overnight.
- Strain the liquor and throw out the herbs. Refrigerate or funnel back into the bottle and freeze.
- Mix the frozen strawberries, fresh strawberries, blue or blackberries, limes, ginger ale, and rosé in large pitcher or beverage container with a spigot.
- Serve alongside glasses with sprigs of mint and thyme as garnishes.
Champagne Sugarfina Cocktail:
This is a great one to have around for the big countdown! Even if you’re not a big fan of the bubbly, just a bit will give you something to toast with as the ball hits zero.
- 1 bottle (750 ml) Bombay Sapphire Gin, (kept in the freezer)
- 2 bottle (750 ml) Champagne, Moet Rose Chandon or a nice sparkling, chilled
- 12 oz. simple syrup, infused with fresh mint *
- 1 container Champagne Gummy Bears by Sugarfina Incorporated
Chef Gerrie’s Notes:
* Simple syrup: Heat 6 oz. of water with 6 oz. of sugar and a few sprigs of mint. Heat until sugar dissolves. Chill for several hours and strain.
- Mix all ingredients together and pour into champagne flutes before dropping in a gummy bear. Yep, that’s it!
Batch Bloody Marys:
Makes 1 gallon
Bloody Mary’s are especially fun because of all the garnish possibilities…
- Thick smoked bacon
- Celery stalk
- Sliced cucumber
- Pickled green beans, okra, or asparagus
- Cheese cubes
- Boneless buffalo chicken wings
- Lobster claw
- Jumbo shrimp
Sip on these bad-boys as you say good-bye to 2017 or save them for New Year’s Day as you welcome the possibilities of 2018!
- 3 quarts Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix *
- 1 bottle (750 ml) vodka *
- ½ C fresh lime juice
- Garnishes as you desire.
Chef Gerrie’s Notes:
* Bloody Mary Mix: Be sure to keep it cold in the fridge! If you don’t want to buy mix, you can make your own by combining the following:
- 3 quarts tomato juice
- ¼ C Worcestershire sauce
- 2 T prepared horseradish
- ½ lime juiced
- 5 T celery salt
- 3 T fresh ground pepper
- Fifth of vodka
- Mix all ingredients together and keep cold in the refrigerator or a cooler.
- Serve in a pitcher or beverage container with a spigot for easy pouring. If you want to be fancy, put out highball glasses or old fashioned glassware, or if you want to go low-key, the red party cups, or whatever else you have, is great!
- Display garnish options with skewers to let you and your guests make their own combinations.
What does the New Year’s holiday mean to you? How are you celebrating? What are you drinking? I’d love to hear what this closing holiday is all about for you guys, so let me know in the comments section below or on my Facebook page, @ChefGerriesChefJungle.