For many people, the New Year begins with popping a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine. It's the go-to drink for the celebratory moments in our lives.
Yet champagne is far more versatile than many people think. Beyond just pouring it into a glass, you can mix it with any number of spirits to create a range of champagne cocktails.
"One that starts off a little simpler is a French 75," respected mixologist Greg Seider tells Weekend Edition guest host Jacki Lyden. "[It's] gin, lemon juice, a slight bit of agave, topped with prosecco or champagne."
Seider co-owns The Summit Bar, which New York Magazine once named the city's best cocktail bar. He says one of his favorite champagne cocktails is something he calls a GP Spritz.
"I take hibiscus flowers and infuse that in agave. We add Aperol, a little bit of lemon juice and a hibiscus tincture, which is basically a concentrated bitter. Shake that up, and serve that on the rocks and top that with 3 ounces of prosecco."
If fresh hibiscus flowers are hard to come by, Seider says you can use hibiscus tea bags. "If you didn't have agave, you could do half sugar-half water, and maybe do eight tea bags to a quart [of the sugar-water solution], then you have a nice syrup you can use as a go-to."
1 ounce Aperol
3/4 ounce hibiscus agave (recipe below)
1/4 ounce lemon juice
3 ounces prosecco
Put all ingredients except prosecco in a shaker tin. Shake and strain onto ice in a Collins glass. Top with prosecco. Garnish with lemon twist.
In a pot, mix 16 ounces of agave syrup with 16 ounces of water. Add 2 ounces of hibiscus tea or 10 tea bags. Bring to boil. Remove from heat for 20 minutes. Strain out tea. Makes 1 quart.
JACKI LYDEN, HOST:
For many people, 2012 will begin with popping a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine. It's the go-to drink for the celebratory moments in our lives and it turns out champagne is far more versatile than you think. Beyond just pouring it into a glass, you can make it with any number of spirits to create a range of champagne cocktails.
And for a few ideas, we're joined by respected mixologist Greg Seider. He co-owns The Summit Bar in New York's East Village. New York Magazine once named it the city's best cocktail bar and Greg Seider is at our New York bureau. Welcome to the show.
GREG SEIDER: Hi, Jack. Very great to be here.
LYDEN: Happy New Year to you.
SEIDER: Happy New Year to you.
LYDEN: So, I'm so excited to talk to you. You know, the champagne cocktail is one of my favorite celebratory drinks. How do you make yours?
SEIDER: We have a bunch of different versions; one that starts off like a little simpler, a French '75 would be a simple gin, lemon juice, slight bit of agave, topped with prosecco or champagne would be a like a nice starter.
LYDEN: And what's the classic champagne cocktail? I just thought champagne, a little bitters, a sugar cube.
SEIDER: That would be it. That would be your original.
LYDEN: Let's get to your New Year's Eve recommendations. You gave us one that you call a GP Spritz. Tell us about it.
SEIDER: Yeah. The GP Spritz, actually inspired from my friend Angie Mosier down in Atlanta. So what I do is I take hibiscus flowers and I infuse that in agave and we add Aperol, a little bit of lemon juice, and then actually a hibiscus tincture which is basically a concentrated bitter, and shake that up and then actually serve that on the rocks. And we top that with, like, 3 1/2 ounces of prosecco.
LYDEN: I'm wheeling already. Where do you get hibiscus flowers in the middle of the winter, though, if you don't live in Atlanta?
SEIDER: You can just get the tea. And you would just do a concentrated, you know, maybe do eight tea bags, or if you didn't have agave you could do half sugar, half water. And you do like eight bags of tea to a quart and then you have a nice syrup that you can use as a go-to.
LYDEN: Okay. So keep some of the hibiscus infusion on hand.
SEIDER: Yeah. It's like an emergency, you know, along with batteries and the flashlights.
LYDEN: So you also mentioned using Aperol in this spritz and that's an orange liqueur.
SEIDER: Yeah. The reason Aperol - I find it more versatile. It's because it has a rhubarb-orange base to it, but it doesn't quite have the bitter finish of a Campari.
SEIDER: So I find that it's more accessible for a lot of people.
LYDEN: Give us a warm drink, would you, please?
SEIDER: Oh, well, I like to do kind of a twist on the hot toddy. It's always, like, nice and simple where you - you could Irish whiskey. I like bourbon or rum as a nice twist. And just add some honey, a little bit of ginger, a squeeze of lemon, and hot water. Or, you could use, actually, substitute any teabag. You could use a ginger teabag and just put that in with the hot water to give it a nice little twist. And just - nice ounce of Vromer(ph) Bourbon and sweeten it to you liking with the honey.
LYDEN: I love the way you just play with flavor.
SEIDER: Yeah. It's from, like, my culinary - I do a lot of cooking and my friends are some of the best chefs in the city. So I get all my ideas from cooking, actually. I don't really get much inspiration from an actual bar.
LYDEN: Greg Seider owns The Summit Bar and Prima in New York City and he spoke to us from our New York bureau. What a way to start the year. Thanks.
(SOUNDBITE OF THE SONG, "AULD LANG SYNE")
LYDEN: Go to our website npr.org for the recipe for GP Spritz. This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Scott Simon comes back next week. A Happy New Year. I'm Jacki Lyden. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.