Champagne-y Cocktails for New Year's Eve

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​The end of 2010 is almost upon us (THANK GOD) and Friday night will be a time for popping bottles and sipping on some bubbly. But plain champagne is SO 2010, so we enlisted the help of two of our favorite bartenders to spice up our party drink menus. Courtesy of Julie Hillebrand of J&G Steakhouse and Steve Douds of Renegade Canteen, here are three champagne-based drinks to take you through New Year's Eve and into the dawn of 2011.

For early evening drinking: New Year's Eve Punch
"I love champagne all the time, and it's a classic for this holiday," Hillebrand says. "Lately I've been reading the Dave Wondrich book 'Punch,' which is packed with old-school recipes that call for champagne. They're great and very easy to make. Plus, it has a lower alcohol content than cocktails or wine, so you can drink it over several hours with friends and not get drunk too quickly."

It's a good idea to have all your ingredients either cool or refrigerated so it doesn't melt the ice too quickly and become watered-down.

You'll need:
1 large punch bowl
3 lemons, peeled
2 oz. sugar
5 oz. St. Germain Liqueur
1 bottle champagne
1 quart white tea (this can be bought from most grocery stores, or you can make your own by steeping three tea bags in a quart of water for about 3-5 minutes)
1 liter gin
1 liter soda water
1 pint kumquats, halved

How to make it:
Mix the juice of your lemons, the sugar and the St. Germain in the bottom of the punch bowl, throwing the lemons in after they're squeezed. Throw in the fridge to chill, then make the white tea, if you chose not to buy it. Once the tea is done and has reached room temperature, mix it with the base in the bowl. Add ice and pour in champagne, gin and soda water. Stir well, then add kumquats to garnish.

For toasting: the Champagne Cocktail
When the time comes to count down, you'll need something stronger and better-suited for toasting. "New Year's Eve is a time for celebration and indulgence," Douds says. "It's a new year; treat yourself. Drink what you like." Trust us -- you'll like this cocktail.

You'll need:
1 sugar cube

How to make it:
Soak a sugar cube in a few dashes of bitters at the bottom of a champagne flute. Pour in some champagne to fill. Toast to the new year, then take a swig -- after you've found someone to kiss, of course.

For the morning after: the Screaming Mimosa
Of course, there are consequences for so much New Year's Eve indulgence, and many partiers will be kicking 2011 off with a wicked hangover. Pour yourself a glass of this champagne cocktail to give yourself some hair of the dog. "It'll ease the pain of the morning after," Douds says.

You'll need:
1 oz. orange vodka
3 oz. orange juice

How to make it:
Mix all three ingredients together in a highball glass filled with ice, stirring well. Take a drink and look forward to what 2011 will bring. It couldn't possibly be worse than last year.

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