Staying in doesn’t have to be boring. Make the evening your own with a party at your place.
Some folks love big nights out, and some hate them – and everyone has their reasons. Most of us have friends in both camps pulling us one way or another, especially on New Year’s Eve, the “big daddy” of party nights. So do you stay in or go out?
We all have stories of drowsy, uncomfortable house parties, nights out barely avoiding incarceration, and childhood memories of our parents’ mixers with questionable food, fashion and “punches.”
As grownups ourselves now, we have to hope for an enjoyable middle ground between a home-bound snoozer and a Champagne-soaked flirtation with jail.
Here at The Hooch Life, we feel it’s our duty to help you weigh your options, so we sat down with some local bartenders to see how they’d avoid the pitfalls of a NYE gone bad.
Their first piece of advice? If you don’t have an amazing place to be that night, say Times Square or the French Quarter, then your house, or a friend’s, or a lake house, is the spot.
The Hooch Life: What do you love/hate about NYE?
Britt Henze (Trillium): Love getting people together, for any reason really. Hate the junior varsity nature of the people out on NYE.
Joshua Smith (Williams & Graham, TAG): Love the family and friends that we get to see back home in Michigan (not making the trip this year until the 4th). Hate the craziness.
THL: If you’re not working that night, what’s your plan?
BH: Easy answer, game night at my house, mandatory sweats, kicking back and relaxing safely out of the Champagne-induced insanity.
JS: If I’m not working, I’m gone. Our tradition is to get together at our lakeside cabin.
THL: Get more specific for us, what does the guest list look like? And the menu?
BH: A small group really, definitely including our bartender friends. We’re all so casual as a group it’d be just PBR, hot dogs, nachos. I love good food — but this night is about comfort.
JS: Our family and friends have been getting together at the cabin for years – it’s always a reunion. I love to cook, and the menu this year might include Humboldt Fog-topped wonton strips with smoked whitefish and balsamic and brie baked with basil leaves in phyllo. The menu is always evolving.
THL: What’s on the soundtrack?
BH: White Stripes Pandora, all night long.
JS: There’s always music; mostly we make our own. Lots of us are musicians, and, when we’re together, out come the guitars and the bongos, and NYE is no different.
(Check out The Hooch Life’s NYE party playlist.)
THL: Any games you love to play, and is the TV on in the background?
BH: I love the game Apples to Apples; if you haven’t played it, get it soon. No TV really. We pop in Monty Python or Young Frankenstein or something, movies we love and can just have on in the background.
JS: I love to play dice, and there are card games, too. The TV is on all night; we like to watch the celebrations as they move across the globe, from Japan to us.
THL: What’s your drink of choice that night? Is there a midnight Champagne toast?
BH: I’m lifting a cocktail from my friend Justin Koch at Green Russell. He calls it the Becharovkarac. It’s a Sazerac with a Becherovka rinse instead of absinthe. No Champagne, we’ll substitute whiskey, probably Leopold Bros. Maryland Rye.
JS: We love Tom Collins, the old style. That will definitely be there – and absolutely yes to the midnight toast – has to happen!
2 Punch Recipes for Your New Year’s Eve Party
Want some delicious punches of your own that will definitely outshine the Kool-Aid-and-jug-vodka version of your college days? Here are two recipes from our tenders. They suggest that you serve them in the classic style, crystal punch bowl and glasses and all.
The “Orange You Glad You’re Not a Ginger”
(Recipe by Britt Henze)
1 bottle Apple Cider
1/2 bottle Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
6 ounces Aperol
1 liter Ginger Ale
2 Cinnamon Sticks
Fresh Ginger Slices
Mix in punch bowl, and pour into glasses with or without rocks.
(Recipe by Josh Smith)
1 bottle Cachaca
1/2 bottle St. Germain Liqueur
2 bottles Torrontes Wine (or medium-bodied, white wine)
1 cup Lemon Juice
1 cup Lime Juice
Husk of one Pineapple (for garnish)
1 bundle of Tarragon
4 Cinnamon Sticks
Grated Fresh Ginger Root
Mix all above ingredients in the bowl, adjust to taste, scoop over ice, and top with sparkling rose wine.