Feeling like having a locavore New Years Eve this year? Here’s a fun, new twist on the #1 New Years Eve beverage of choice, American sparkling wine, plus three more all-american ideas to impress your friends.
#1: Skip the imported Champagne and try some festive American bubbly. There are lots of great options. Melanie Wagner, Certified Sommelier and author of Hello, Wine: The Most Essential Things You Need to Know About Wine notes that Rosé sparkling wine can add a festive note to any evening. Wagner likes Schramsberg Brut Rosé and J Vineyards and Winery Brut Rosé from California (one of my personal favorites!) and Gruet Rosé Brut from New Mexico. Jon Bonné, the wine editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, in his new book The New California Wine notes that Roederer Estate is “turning out excellent sparklers” and agrees that Schramsberg “is stronger than ever.” And, if you’re bringing a gift, you may want to consider Francis Ford Coppola Winery’s Sofia Blanc de Blancs, a blend of Pinot Blanc, Muscat, and Riesling. The light sparkling wine is beautifully packaged in either a 750ml bottle or as Sofia Minis in pink 187ml cans perfect to enjoy without the need for a wine flute.
#2 Warm up with some American saké. Although American saké may not seem like an obvious choice, let’s not forget that rice has been produced in the USA for centuries. In Texas, the Texas Sake Company makes a certified organic saké using 100% organically grown Texas rice that is a variety grown from Japanese seed that has been in the state for more than 100 years ago. Other domestic producers of saké include SakeOne in Oregon, Moto-i in Minneapolis,MN, and Ozeki Saké, Takara Saké , Yaegaki and Gekkeikan Saké all from California. If you’re wondering how to stage a celebration around saké check out A Simple Soba/Sake Party from the folks at Remodelista who suggest setting out a rustic Japanese table cloth on a coffee table and serving simple soba noodles with your saké (they suggest cold, but I’m partial to hot this time of year). Check out their four vignettes that will set the tone for an elegant dinner party with a distinctive Japanese sensibility.
#3 Enjoy an American Craft Beer. There are more than 2,400 craft beer producers in the United States today and so you won’t have to go far to find some local brew for New Years. Craftbeer.com has a great interactive brewery finder page and a handy How to Host a Tasting At Home Guide [PDF] that contains all the details you need including what supplies to have on hand, serving suggestions and food pairing tips. Some of my personal favorite craft brews include Almanac farm-to-bottle beer in honey, chocolate and blackberry flavors or any number of brews from Hops & Grain Craft Brewery in Austin, TX. And, if you’re feeling like you want to go out, check your local brewpub to see what they are doing to celebrate.
#4 Create a 100-mile Cocktail. For those of you who follow the locavore movement the 100-Mile (or-200-mile or 500-mile depending on what your doing) is a way of structuring your local buying. It applies to everything from 100-mile Thanksgivings to 100-Mile architecture. And while I’ve never officially heard of a 100-mile cocktail I’m sure we can do it. I believe these would be the steps:
- Find a local craft spirits producer: They can be found in the Bay Area, Seattle, Portland, Austin, New York (city and state), New Orleans, Maine, Iowa, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio, and Colorado. If your state isn’t listed here a simple google search will undoubtedly deliver at least one if not a few local spirits producers (for example, a quick google search of “idaho distilleries” yielded an article listing five).
- Check which fruits and vegetables are local and in season now and make those the foundation for a celebratory local cocktail. About.com has a great list of seasonal and winter fruits and vegetables. Likely candidates are apples, oranges and even beets. Go to your local Whole Food Market or farmer’s market if its still open. Many major supermarket chains now tell you if something is grown locally. Be ready to improvise.
- If you’re lucky you may be able to find some pre-made local juice or cider. Or buy some local ingredients and break out the juicer.
- Find a recipe that fits your local ingredients. Food & Wine and epicurious both have good searchable cocktail lists.