Beyond Bubbly

It’s all so predictable

— party hats, noisemakers, “Auld Lang Syne” and, of course, champagne and the inevitable champagne hangover that puts your brain in traction for days. Break the cycle this New Year’s Eve and try one of these easy cocktails created by our resident party girls and amateur mixologists, the Style Council. There’s something for everyone — an energy boost, a toast for Mormons, boozy flu prevention — and they make great alternatives to boring bubbly. But if you insist on popping your cork, or are looking for a way to use the cheap-ass bottle of Korbel someone’s saddled you with, we’ve included a colorful and delicious way to get rid of it. This holiday season, drink responsibly — friends don’t give friends hangovers.

Happy New Year!
The SC

Velvet Matador
When I saw Red Bull sorbet in the ice cream case at Lickety Split on Hollywood Boulevard, I immediately thought of punch. Just the word “punch,” a communal beverage with gobs of sherbet floating in carbonated high-fructose corn syrup, took me back to the world of junior-high dances with its bowls of greasy Lay’s potato chips and sweaty palms on the small of my back. But Red Bull sorbet makes an awesome adult punch because, I don’t know about you, but there comes a point in the evening where I start to feel my mortality and a little Red Bull becomes necessary if I’m to keep the partying going. Mixed with vodka and some ginger ale, the frozen Red Bull punch, or Velvet Matador as we’ve come to know it, keeps everyone suspended in that perfect state — buzzed and energized! After all, New Year’s parties don’t get started until midnight. And forgive me, I’m no Martha Stewart — I’d rather be on the dance floor than fixing drinks, so the idea of my guests ladling their own Velvet Matadors as they see fit makes me pleased as . . .

—Linda Immediato

1 (750-ml) bottle chilled vodka
1⁄2 gallon Red Bull sorbet
1 (2-liter) bottle ginger ale
Pint of blackberries (optional)
Mint leaves

Pour the vodka into a large punch bowl, then add the Red Bull sorbet (scoop by scoop), floating it all over top. Douse liberally with ginger ale. Sprinkle with blackberries and mint leaves. Step back and wave your red cape . . . Toro! Toro! Serves 12 to 15.

Tip: Can’t make it to Lickety Split? Make Red Bull ice cubes: Fill ice-cube trays with the cocaine alternative and freeze, then just pop them into your punch bowl. You can also swirl raspberry sorbet into the punch for a real bullfight effect.

 A peachy mocktail
For many, the holiday party season means one thing — getting waaaasted. But while you’re counting down to midnight with a glass of some intoxicant, there are plenty in this town who prefer not to join you: your friends in the program, for instance, or pregnant women, diabetics, those on antidepressants . . . you get the sober picture. Instead of shoving a plastic cup of Diet Coke or tasteless fake wine at your non-boozing buddy, why not mix up a yummy “mocktail”? A great festive zero-proof concoction is the Faux Bellini, a virgin variation on the classic champagne cocktail. The original recipe, created in 1934 at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy, contains Prosecco or champagne mixed with fresh puréed white peaches and a hint of raspberry or cherry juice to give the drink a pink glow. Our trashy (but not trashed) Faux Bellini, “Fellini,” for short, contains supermarket peach nectar, a splash of cranberry juice, a twist of lemon and club soda for sparkle. A few drops of orange flower water can give it extra fragrance. The drink is refreshing and delicious, and guess what? No hangover.

1 slice lemon
3 tablespoons peach nectar or mango purée
2 tablespoons cranberry juice or raspberry purée
1⁄2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Few drops orange flower water (optional)
Club sod
1 sprig mint

Chill tall champagne flute, run a lemon slice around rim, and dip rim in plate or shallow bowl of sugar. Let sit for a minute to dry. Pour peach nectar, cranberry juice, lemon juice and orange flower water (if using) into sugar-rimmed flute and top off with club soda. Garnish with fresh mint. Serves 1.

Tip: For easy faux champagne, mix club soda with grape-juice concentrate. Create a virgin Kir Royale by combining nonalcoholic Chardonnay and cassis (don’t use crème de cassis, which contains booze).

Estefania (a nickname I got while traveling in Cuba) was born of sheer resourcefulness one late night when the only booze left in the house was a bottle of peach vodka that came from who knows where. The concoction I mixed together easily could have turned out more cloying than a Fuzzy Navel, but the flavors (and planets) aligned in a cocktail that is refreshing, fruity and exotic . . . and did I mention it’s healthy? You can actually stave off a cold while you booze it up. The lemon-ginger echinacea juice I get at Trader Joe’s has a spicy heat that perfectly cuts the sweetness of the peach; Vitamin Water is for color and a snap of tartness (and Vitamin C!); seltzer adds a fizzy finish. The basil is a twist on the Mojito’s mint, but let’s face it, mostly it’s to impress your guests.

—Steffie Nelson

11⁄2 ounces peach vodka
21⁄2 ounces lemon-ginger echinacea juice
1 ounce Power-C Vitamin Water (the dark-pink bottle with “dragonfruit”)
1 squeeze fresh lime
1 splash seltzer water
1 large basil leaf, torn

Pour liquids into cocktail shaker and chill in ice or in a freezer until cold, about 20 minutes. Place torn basil leaf in bottom of a martini glass and slowly pour contents of shaker over the leaf to release the basil oil. If you wanna get really fancy, toss in one of those cute curls of lemon peel. Raise your glass to La Revolución! Serves 1.

 The fizzazz of
Purple Reign

Purple Reign
I’ve got a cocktail confession: I’m a serial girlie-drink sipper. If it’s sweet, colorful and/or has a sexually suggestive name, it was probably my “usual,” that is, until I got bored and moved on to another shade of the rainbow. I still dip into the greens (Midori Sour, Apple Martini), the blues (Hypnotic shots, Blue Hawaiian) and, of course, the reds (Sex on the Beach, Sea Breeze), but only purple can kick off the New Year with majesty, passion and, okay, Prince. And while the Purple Hooter is a perfectly respectable drink for the bar scene, New Year’s Eve calls for something special, hence my tasty concoction here, which combines the pizzazz of the Hooter with the fizzazz of the holiday’s most popular libation. But beware, if you don’t follow the recipe exactly, you may end up with a drink that’s more Robitussin than rapturous. Either way, this one ain’t for shrinking violets.

—Lina Lecaro

4 ounces champagne
2 ounces cran-raspberry fruit cocktail
1 ounce vodka
2 generous splashes (about 1 ounce) Chambord

Pour liquids into cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake gently. Pour into glass and serve cold with berry garnish on rim. Serves 1.

Lina’s Rock-tail Playlist
A successful cocktail party isn’t just about the drinks you concoct. A saucy soundtrack is equally important, particularly at a last-night-of-the-year gathering. Thematically, you wanna choose tunes about moving forward, looking back and just letting loose, while sonically building the tempos and decibel levels as the night progresses. Now is not the time to show how cool you are with that collection of early-’70s Swedish indie rock obscurities, though a sprinkling of swanky, quirky ditties is perfectly acceptable earlier in the evening (note the Taco tune). After midnight, when the booze has kicked in and the coffee table has been moved out of the way, it’s all about bumpin’ the humps, so stick with funky, upbeat, celebratory stuff (but never, ever Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration!”) and spike it with a li’l rock & roll and even a few of the year’s biggest pop hits. It’s hard to kick friends out of your house, so when you’re ready for the whole shebang to be over, the trick is to choose slower, even cheesy, classic rock nuggets that’ll keep ringing in their ears even as they race for the door. Here are a few track suggestions to get you started. Happy downloading!

—Lina Lecaro

Gettin’ ’em in the mood:
“Stay With Me,” The Faces
“I’ll Take You There,” The Staples Singers
“New Year’s Resolution,” Otis Redding
“Starting Over,” John Lennon
“Such Great Heights,” The Postal Service
“Happy New Year,” Abba
“Puttin’ on the Ritz,” Taco
“The New Year,” Death Cab for Cutie
“It’s the End of the World as We Know It,” R.E.M.
“In the Midnight Hour,” Wilson Pickett
“Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now,” McFadden & Whitehead
“Joy to the World,” Three Dog Night
“Wonderful Night,” Fatboy Slim
“Midnight Rambler,” The Rolling Stones
“Auld Lang Syne,” Guy Lombardo

Gettin’ ’em movin’ (after the countdown):
“1999,” Prince
“Let’s Get It Started,” Black Eyed Peas
“Holla Back Girl,” Gwen Stefani
“Music,” Madonna
“Funky New Year,” The Eagles
“Got To Give It Up,” Marvin Gaye
“Bust a Move,” Young MC
“Rock Steady,” Aretha Franklin
“You Shook Me All Night Long,” AC/DC
“Take Me Out,” Franz Ferdinand
“Dancing Days,” Led Zeppelin
“Sex Machine,” James Brown
“Groove Is in the Heart,” Dee-Lite
“TKO,” Le Tigre
“World Destruction,” John Lydon and Afrika Bambaataa
“Tear the Roof off the Sucker,” Parliament
“Battle Revolution,” Lo-Fidelity All-Stars
“Banquet,” Bloc Party
“20th Century Boy,” T-Rex
“Lust for Life,” Iggy Pop
“Another One Bites the Dust,” Queen

Gettin’ ’em out:
“New Year’s Day,” U2
“Living Thing,” ELO
“Sister Christian,” Night Ranger
“Come Sail Away,” Styx
“Dream Weaver,” Gary Wright
“Sweet Dreams,” Marilyn Manson
“Good Riddance,” Green Day

Party Tips

Don’t skip dinner just so you can fit into that skintight dress (in fact, just don’t wear it). Eat a healthy meal around 5-ish, drink lots of water, and when you’re at the party, pace yourself! V8 before bed does wonders, too. And if you’re just too messed up to remember any of the above, just make sure you have some Gatorade by the bed for the morning after, preferably grape flavor.


Candles make a party feel instantly more warm and festive, but why are nice ones so expensive?! Buy a bag of tea lights (around 5 bucks for 100 at Target) and place them in old tea cups. The porcelain gives off a nice glow, and you can pick up pretty, hand-painted bone-china cups at garage sales for as little as 10 cents.


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