Let’s end the year on a high note with a lovely, low-stress cocktail party for New Year’s Eve, shall we? As the host, you’re relieved of the expense and effort of providing a full meal. A selection of hors d’oeuvres allows guests to nibble and nosh throughout the evening as they wish. And you can limit the time to a few hours without looking like a Grinch. For a party lasting until the midnight toast, you’ll want to start no earlier than 8 p.m.
To maximize savings, don’t offer a full bar. Instead, offer a signature cocktail. To keep with the festive feeling of a new year, I recommend a mimosa bar as detailed below.
Diva party tips
■ Prep ahead. Choose appetizers and drinks that can be made in advance so you spend more time mixing with your guests than mixing drinks.
■ Low-proof and no-proof options. As fun as cocktails can be, be sure to have nonalcoholic alternatives on hand, too. Have plenty of water available for guests who are imbibing to minimize the morning-after blues.
■ Travel safe. If anyone enjoys a little too much holiday cheer, arrange for a taxi or other driving service. You can also ask some guests to be designated drivers for the night. Or change the sheets and plump the pillows on the guest bed before the party.
■ Bust out the punch bowl. Select drink recipes that are made in quantity and served communally, so guests can serve themselves. A row of glasses and a punch bowl with ladle is a lovely way for guests to mix and mingle.
Another easy entertaining idea is to set up a mimosa bar and let your guests create their own inebriating innovation.
What is a mimosa? Mimosas are made by combining Champagne and fruit juice, usually a citrus juice. Typically, it’s two parts Champagne to one part juice, but it depends on your preference.
To set up your mimosa bar, you’ll need a couple of ice buckets to keep your sparkling wine chilled and another ice bucket or container to keep your juices chilled. You should also plan space for lots of Champagne flutes. Plastic flutes are available if you don’t want to store a bunch of special-occasion glassware all year. Choose a spot close to the fridge so you can easily replenish your mimosa bar as your guests help themselves.
Since variety is fun, provide several different juices and let your guests try different combinations. Orange juice is the gold standard for mimosas, but other juices are popular, too. A cranberry juice mimosa is called a Poinsettia. A grapefruit juice mimosa is also called a Megmosa. A peach purée mimosa is called a Bellini and is such a treat.
Here’s a recipe for a personal favorite.
To make six servings, combine ½ cup each of orange or tangerine juice (fresh squeezed if possible) and cranberry juice and refrigerate. To serve, divide the juice between six glasses and top with seltzer water or sparkling wine. Serve with orange segments and cranberries.
Another fun addition to a mimosa bar is frozen fruit sorbet. Use a small melon baller to make little scoops to place in the glass before you pour the sparkling wine. Lemon, grapefruit and raspberry all taste wonderful with sparkling wine.
What kind of Champagne is best for mimosas? I recommend not using Champagne at all for mimosas. Champagne is expensive, and when your mixing it with juice, it’s a total waste. Instead use sparkling wine or prosecco.
Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at firstname.lastname@example.org.