I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t think that people are capable of that kind of change overnight — we’re not going to wake up January 1st with a sudden, irresistible urge to jog and eat kale; There is no magic wand that will start to do the laundry before it piles up; We’re not going to instantly start to like that neighbor that won’t stop parking in front of your house when there’s plenty of available spots in front of his own house (Okay, that one’s mine but you get the idea). No, it’s safe to say I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. But a good, sturdy cocktail at midnight? I believe in that concept every day of the year (and maybe twice on Sundays).
Despite my misgivings about magical New Year’s transformations, I believe that a new, delicious cocktail is plenty to get excited about. Especially if you happen to be one of the brave souls hosting a get-together for the occasion. And this cocktail is just about perfect for it — a clever take on the classic French 75. If you’ve never had the pleasure, a traditional 75 is generally some combination of gin, lemon juice and sparkling wine. The gin base prevents it from becoming too sweet, the lemon juice adds a subtle tang and the sparkling keeps it, well, sparkling. With the advent of the Craft Cocktail Revolution, there are many new interpretations of the 75 out there; and despite a valiant effort to try them all, I think I’ve found my favorite in a recent issue of Food & Wine.
This version has a decided (and welcome) wintry feel thanks to a spiced simple syrup made with the usual — equal parts to sugar and water — but we’re flavoring it with dried cranberries, ginger and cinnamon sticks (how many of those things do you have still kicking around from holiday baking? I had all three). Clementine juice is replacing the lemon component in the cocktail, and I’ve chosen prosecco for the bubbles because it tends to be both sweeter and more reasonably priced, but you can certainly use whatever bubbly you’re stocking for the occasion — champagne, cava, etc. Because, look, the holidays can be rough — but the New Year is full of hope, right? So, here’s to you and all your New Year’s aspirations. Cheers.
Adapted from Food & Wine
For the syrup:
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup dried cranberries
2 cinnamon sticks
2 large slices of ginger, fresh or candied
For the cocktails:
8 oz gin
7 oz clementine juice, strained (from about ½ a 3lb bag of clementines)
1 recipe spiced simple syrup
750 ml Prosecco, chilled
First, make the syrup. In a small saucepan, combine all syrup ingredients. Add ½ cup of water and pace over medium heat. Once the mixture comes up to a simmer, stir constantly until you’re sure that all the sugar has dissolved and then kill the heat. Strain the mixture into a container with a tight fitting lid and cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
For a large batch of cocktails:
Combine the syrup, clementine juice and gin in a large container. Stir vigorously to combine. When you’re ready to serve, pour the mixture evenly between 8 cocktail glasses and fill each glass the rest of the way with chilled prosecco. You could also add the ingredients to a large pitcher or beverage dispenser.
For individual cocktails:
In a cocktail shaker, combine 1 oz gin, 1 oz clementine juice and ¾ oz of the spiced syrup. Add a few ice cubes, replace the lid and shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is chilled. Strain into a flute or cocktail glass and fill the rest of the way with prosecco. Garnish with a clementine segment or twist, if desired.