15 Ultimate Cocktails for New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is the best night of the year to create your own custom cocktail for a celebration. There are so many festive choices, and you can pick a spirit and provide a buffet bar of options to let guests customize their drinks. Whether you go with bubbly or not, this roundup of cocktail recipes will give you a solid foundation to improvise from for a celebratory start to the New Year.
Sazerac Cocktail recipe and image from CHOW

1. Gigi

Our recipe for this coquettish cocktail (created by Jackie Patterson at Le Colonial in San Francisco) contains three fancy French liquors: Lillet Blanc, St-Germain, and rosé champagne. You can substitute with unflavored vodka, but the Grey Goose La Poire has a really spectacular pear flavor that pairs beautifully with the elderflower taste of the St-Germain.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

2. Kiwi Sparkler

Kiwi, Prosecco, and peach liqueur make for a dazzling New Year’s Eve choice. Muddle the kiwi with some brown sugar if you want to add a bit more sweetness. And be sure to strain this cocktail to separate out the smashed kiwi pieces if you’re concerned about smooth sipping.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

3. Classic Champagne Cocktail

Aromatic bitters are the way to really differentiate this champagne cocktail from the rest. You can try out orange, grapefruit, or any type of bitters you already have on hand to dash onto a sugar cube that will meld beautifully with freshly poured champagne and a lemon twist.
Photo and recipe from The Kitchn

4. El Diablo

This tequila-based cocktail is a delightful hint of summer, brought to you by the rich blackberry color and flavor of crème de cassis. The thyme garnish adds a fancy touch, and although tequila is the main spirit, the drink still tastes very delicate with spicy ginger beer (or homemade ginger soda).
Photo and recipe from Bon Appétit

5. Sazerac Jelly Shots

A New Orleans favorite, the original Sazerac is altered here for a party-perfect treat to serve alongside appetizers. With rye, lemon, and bitters, you can turn a Jell-O shot into something more elegant. And with only a third of an ounce of alcohol per square, five or six of these equal a normal-sized cocktail. You don’t even have to pace yourself.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

6. Holiday Mule

If you can find a traditional copper mug to serve this holiday mule in, you’ll really have outdone yourself. Rosemary sprigs, orange slices, and sugared cranberries are some seasonally appropriate garnishes that look as good as they taste. This recipe calls for gin, but you can substitute vodka (or really any clear alcohol) to suit your taste.
Photo and recipe from Home Sweet Jones

7. Platinum Sparkle

The name alone is reason enough to make this cocktail for a fancy New Year’s Eve celebration. You can make this recipe in a large batch for a party and shake it in a cocktail shaker with ice to serve individual portions. Garnish with a brandied (or maraschino) cherry and you’re all set.
Photo and recipe from Food & Wine

8. Onward-Upward Cocktail

This is another case where the name of the cocktail makes it hard to pass up for a New Year’s celebration. An interesting combination of mezcal, rye, and sweet and dry vermouth, this will appeal to fans of Manhattans and Boulevardiers.
Photo and recipe from Forbes

9. Prince Harry Cocktail

Fit for royalty, the Prince Harry Cocktail is similar to a Dark 'n' Stormy, with a tangy kick from ginger beer. You can adjust the amount of ginger beer to dilute the cocktail, but don’t skimp on the fresh lime juice: It’s absolutely essential. Garnish with a lime twist and you’re ready for a royal start to 2015.
Photo and recipe from Serious Eats

10. Sherry Splash

Our recipe for a Sherry Splash uses the somewhat unusual manzanilla sherry, which is a little bit salty and pairs well with the sweet St-Germain elderflower liqueur. Again, this recipe calls for gin but you can just as easily substitute vodka if you’re so inclined. Shake with ice and strain into a champagne coupe for extra panache.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

11. Pomegranate Margarita

Festive and not too sweet, this delicious pomegranate margarita is a beautiful ruby color. Fresh lime juice, tequila, triple sec, and a substantial amount of pomegranate juice are combined and shaken in batches; use a fancy flavored salt for contrast and you’ll be sure to wow even the most discerning guests.
Photo and recipe from Food & Wine

12. Old-Fashioned Gin Cocktail

Similar to the champagne cocktail, this is a simple recipe that will taste even better if you use your favorite gin. With variations for a “Fancy Gin Cocktail” (squeezing a thin-cut lemon peel over the rim of the glass) and an “Improved Gin Cocktail” (adding a teaspoon of Grand Marnier and some bitters), this recipe is easy to customize.
Photo and recipe from Esquire

13. Blue Blazer

This drink is a real showstopper. It involves boiling water, blended Scotch whisky, powdered sugar, and fire. Exercise serious caution while pouring the flaming whisky from one tankard to the other; your guests will be superimpressed if everyone survives.
Photo and recipe from interesting-today.com

14. Rusty Nail

Drambuie and Scotch are an elegant combination for a nightcap. This is hardly a cocktail recipe, containing only two ingredients, but the honey, spices, and herb flavors in the Drambuie and the hint of sweetness round out the flavors of the whisky and make for some extremely smooth sips on the rocks.
Photo and recipe from Imbibe

15. Bourbon Sour

Our recipe for a properly made bourbon sour is vastly different from the normal store-bought sour mix. Fresh lemon juice makes it sour, but not in a fake or acidic, chemical way. With a frothy egg white, it’s a great way to kick off the New Year.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

Caitlin M. O'Shaughnessy is a New York City–based food writer and editor at Penguin who has worked on and recipe-tested several cookbooks. She is currently in search of NYC's best ramen, and is one of the few people who admit to disliking brunch.

See more articles
Share this article: