Never a huge fan of going out on New Years Eve, especially given the crowds, terrible weather, and extortionate prices, I prefer to host a dinner and drinks party at home. This year, I am planning to invite some of my nearest and dearest, and treat them to an evening of excellent drinks, food, and music (I may be on the decks as I am learning to DJ). With the lights down low, sparkles of fireworks blasting off outside through the windows, and the fire crackling, I know that the best New Years Eve’s are often spent at home. And this year will be no exception!
Having planned out my food for the evening, my next step is to figure out what drinks I’ll be serving my guests. As I plan my evening, I obviously need a drink to fuel me but mindful of the need to focus, figure a non-alcoholic beverage might be a good idea. My friend recently recommended Mocktails 0% Espresso Martini, a non boozy but extra delicious pre-made espresso martini that hits the spot. These are a unique cold brew espresso made with spices and botanicals that make it subtle and sophisticated, but not too sweet. There’s zero high fructose nonsense in there or artificial toxic stuff, it’s just a premium beverage that is delicious to drink at any time of the day (or night). I drank this with glee as I began putting pen to paper, mapping out the best NYE yet.
Given my father lives in Ukraine and the ongoing war, I wanted to kick off the evening with a nod to the region, and start with a salute to a better year ahead. For this, I will be opening Dimas Vodka. This Ukrainian-born, London-bred created vodka by Dima Deinega in 2020 is a premium, craft vodka distilled just outside of Kiev using three grains – rye, wheat, and barley. Since the war started, Dima is channeling the vodka’s efforts into raising money and awareness of his people’s suffering, and so donations from each purchase go to supporting people on the ground. I stocked up on a few bottles of this, of course, and was delighted to see that it had won many awards already. Fast garnering critical acclaim, it’s no wonder given the taste – a smooth, elegant vodka that would go down well with one of my mother’s homemade pickles, I thoroughly enjoyed tasting this one before the big evening itself.
I also want to showcase a UK vodka, though, partly because UK vodkas are so up and coming but also to bring a sense of home to the evening’s celebrations. I decided to offer a vodka from a local producer from Herefordshire, with the delicious Gattertop Botanic No 7 Vodka and Gattertop Damson Vodka. Botanic No 7 recently won Silver at the World Vodka Awards, whilst the Damson No 12 (my favourite) is also multi-award winning with a two-star Great Taste award 5 years in a row. It is now the internationally acclaimed damson vodka liqueur at the 2022 IWSC awards. Plummy, slightly sweet, and beautifully aromatic, this damson vodka is heavenly with some tonic, and a truly moreish drink. I couldn’t stop drinking this as I perused what else to offer my guests on the night – very dangerous.
Given it’s New Years, it also feels appropriate to include an ultra premium brand like Grey Goose as a crowd pleaser. Made with only the finest French ingredients, winter wheat from Picardie and spring water from Gensac-la-Pallue, it’s one of the most elite brands out there. The soft winter wheat is of the highest quality and actually used in the most premium French breads and pastries (if it’s good enough to bake with, it’s surely good enough to make vodka with!). The water is also naturally filtered through underground limestone and therefore untouched by pollutants. Utterly smooth and deliciously drinkable, this classic is a must for any NYE party and perfect to make a classic Espresso Martini!
No evening is complete without gin, and what better way to offer gin than with a gin tasting package. A fun idea for New Years Eve, I decided to offer packages of gin tastings to my guests. Neatly packaged and beautifully put together, Drinks by the Dram have put together Premium Gin Collections that can be bought as a gift or as a tasting experience. This set contains some of the top gin producers from around the globe, and features a range of styles, making sure that its both interesting and premium – just what we want for a luxurious, long evening. There are 12 cute bottles presented with beautiful wax-seals. There are London Dry and Old Tom gins here, and pretty much every type of gin you could want to taste (there are 12 after all) – so for the ‘gin course’ of the evening, this gift set really hits the spot. Perfect.
There’s one more gin I really want to plug in for NYE though, because if there’s any night we can afford to let our hair down and drink it’s NYE – but we also likely want to watch the calories given how indulgent these nights can be. Inginious Gin makes a G&T with only a tenth of the alcohol and far fewer calories than most gins, whilst retaining that brilliant G&T taste we love. Combining botanical flavours with a concentrated gin spirit, it comes in at 43% so with only 0.2% units of alcohol compared to 2 units like a standard double serving of gin. There’s a handy measuring spoon that comes with it, meaning I’m able to serve up strong drinks in time for the New Year whilst making sure my guests aren’t getting porky in the process.
After a lot of gin, I figure my guests might want to take a shot of tequila – because, well, what is New Years Eve without tequila? Arguably it’s the perfect beverage to have with your champagne at the stroke of midnight. Of course I only want to serve them the best of the best, and so I was excited to discover Mijenta Tequila Blanco as a new experience for them. This exclusive and refined tequila is aged for 18 months in a series of hand-selected casks, and only 2,160 bottles are made. The nose is delicious – cacao, butterscotch, and tobacco, whilst the palate is as elegant as a fine wine – dried stone fruits, spice, anise, and saffron. You can taste the soft caramelised agave and notes of vanilla and coffee give it that little bit of oomf that renders it so unique.
For the midnight hour, of course we need champagne, but that might be a bit cloy and dry after so many flavoursome drinks prior. I find with champagne I tend to need to have been drinking it already to really enjoy it, so this time around I wanted something a bit different. Bolney Wine Estate Cuvée Noir is a fantastic alternative – a sparkling red from England. Bolney was the first UK commercial vineyard and as such, have always been pioneers in the field. Their sparkling red, made using the traditional method, has aromas of red stone fruits, cherry, redcurrants and blueberries, with a full bodied mousse and slight spiciness that’s the perfect kick to start the year with.
Given we can assume the clock has gone past 12, I think next I’ll take my guests to the Whisky part of the evening as we begin (or I should hope we begin) our wind down. Drinks by the Dram come to the rescue again here, with their Scottish Whisky Collection. Similar to the gin gift set collection, this fantastic set of 12 Whiskeys has it all. Each sample is 30ml, and the range crosses everything from the Tamdhu 12 year old, to the rare Mackmyra Svensk Ek and Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey. A brilliant gift option as well as tasting set for the group.
Assuming we’re at around 1am, maybe 1.30am at this point, energy levels might be declining and for those that want to stay up and talk…or party, I figure Espresso Martinis need to come to the rescue. After many a taste test, I’ve landed on two types that I will be offering as pick me ups – the Espresso Martini mix by Chimney, Fire, Coffee and Wry, and the Salted Caramel Espresso Martini by the Cocktail Society. The first, by Chimney, Fire, Coffee, and Wry is perfect for the evening – seriously. A cold brew cocktail, pre made (hurrah!) In collaboration between artisanal Surrey Hills producers Chimney Fire Coffee and WRY vodka, by Silent Pool Distillers, this delicious martini drink brings rich aromas of chocolate, biscuit, and blackberry form ethical and responsibly sourced coffee roasters Chimney Fire Coffee’s. The coffee works so well with the malty flapjack notes of the WRY vodka, it really is a match made in heaven, and the perfect foundation for a stunning espresso martini. I know my guests will love this. For those that prefer something a bit sweeter and different, I’m offering a Salted Caramel version by the Cocktail Society. This ready-to-drink bottled cocktail is their best seller (and no wonder) with its salted caramel delicious blend of vodka, coffee liquor, espresso and salted caramel. Very dangerous at this time of night, given how delicious it is, but worth the risk. New Years Eve only happens once a year, so why not indulge?
With so many ultra premium spirits to discover, try, and taste – I think this should be a very, very good New Years Eve. What do you think?!? Bring on 2023!