Midnight Soirée

In Eastern European culture, New Year's Eve is undoubtedly considered the most significant party of the year. What I find most special is how that significance is expressed. It's not about what you do and where you go, but rather who you are with. I grew up with countless memories of my family joining forces with their friends to create unforgettable celebrations - full of good food, drink and even silly performances. The depth of these experiences are simply incomparable to an impersonal night out.

Starting with my college years, my priority has been to greet the new year surrounded by my closest friends. As I don't get to see some of these wonderful people often enough, I aim to spoil them with a variety of delicious cocktails. However, I also want to ensure that my recipes are efficient enough to leave me time to partake in the festivities. This particular creation is unique in flavor, festive in hue and quick to serve up in bulk.

In honor of the upcoming Year of the Rooster, I wanted to craft a naturally red sparkling cocktail. Hibiscus flowers came to mind as a source of both beautiful color and tartness. I incorporated the flowers via a liquor infusion rather than cold brewing them as a tea to keep the cocktail strong and full of bright flavor. One of my other key goals was make this drink a true crowd pleaser for both ladies and gentlemen (a goal that can be difficult to achieve with sparkling cocktails). With this aim, I chose to feature KOVAL white rye as the main spirit. After experimenting with this white rye on multiple occasions, I've found it to be versatile like a vodka but with the pleasant finish of rye spice. Infusing it with hibiscus flowers enhanced rather than dampened this wealth of flavor.

I rounded out the cocktail with KOVAL's rose hip liqueur, lemon and Cava. The jammy, citrusy rose hip liqueur paired perfectly with the hibiscus flavors while the lemon balanced the liqueur's sweetness. A hearty splash of Cava rounded off the drink with the obligatory celebratory bubbles without overshadowing the other ingredients (this $7 bottle gets the job done without breaking the bank). The resulting cocktail is delightfully sour, lightly spiced and pleasantly effervescent.

The Midnight Soirée

  • 1.5 oz hisbiscus-infused KOVAL white rye*
  • 1 oz KOVAL rosehip liqueur
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon
  • Cava, to top

Add first three ingredients to a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into your favorite festive glass and top with Cava to taste. If you're feeling especially crafty, garnish with a DIY tinsel swizzle stick (they're surprisingly quick to make). Enjoy while counting down to midnight in your shnazziest attire. 

*To make hibiscus-infused white rye, add 4:1 ratio of white rye to dried hibiscus flowers to a mason jar and allow to sit for 5 hours, shaking occasionally. Strain, label and store unused portion for up to several months.

Thanks to Belen Aquino for the stunning cocktail photography and to Gather Vintage Tablescapes for the lovely MCM glasses.