Champagne(ish) tastes: 7 sparkling cocktails for New Year's revelry


A Champagne-making French Benedictine monk is rumored to have first compared sparkling wine to an ethereal experience.

“Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” said Dom Pérignon, who would later have a prestigious, pricey cuvée in the Moet & Chandon brand named for him.

There’s no denying that a glass of bubbly signifies a special occasion, from celebratory toasts to pre-dinner sips.

Dress up your traditional holiday gathering or New Year’s midnight with these champagne-based cocktail recipes from Rochester mixologists. Wanna test drive 'em first? Good news: Each one is available by the glass at the spots below.

Anthony Rouhana, The Cub Room. - PHOTO BY LEAH STACY
  • Anthony Rouhana, The Cub Room.
“Cub Room Poinsettia” | Anthony Rouhana | The Cub Room, 739 S. Clinton Ave.
This is a creative riff on a Poinsettia (a cranberry-champagne cocktail). But Anthony Rouhana wanted to elevate the drink so it was more complex, like a French 75. “The dry gin pops the rosemary — it’s got a little something for everybody,” he says.

.75 oz. Lemon juice
.75 oz. Pomegranate Wine-Rosemary Syrup
1 oz. Gin (preferably London Dry)
Prosecco (or other dry sparkling)

Shake together and pour into a coupe or flute; top with prosecco. For a little extra flair, drop a cranberry and rosemary garnish inside each glass.

To make the syrup, use one part pomegranate juice to one part full-bodied red wine (merlot works well) and two parts white sugar. Combine the wine and pomegranate juice in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, then add three sprigs of rosemary. Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Chill before use.

Giovanni San Fillipo, Bitter Honey. - PHOTO BY LEAH STACY
  • Giovanni San Fillipo, Bitter Honey.
“Feelin’ Bubbly” | Giovanni San Fillipo | Bitter Honey, 127 Railroad St.

Generally known for its agave-based drinks and Taco Tuesday fare, Bitter Honey is also a party bar, and bar manager Giovanni San Fillipo has concocted an agave-sparkling cocktail that he says is “what I’d want to be drinking going into the New Year.”

1 oz. Tequila
.5 oz. House-made ginger shrub
.5 oz. House made tepache
.5 oz. Lime
.25 oz. Agave
2 Dashes saline
Prosecco (or other dry sparkling)

Shake all ingredients, then add 2 oz. of Prosecco to the shaker and double strain into a coupe glass. Salting the rim before filling glass is optional, garnish with a lime medallion.

Gabrielle Lewis, Good Luck. - PHOTO BY LEAH STACY
  • Gabrielle Lewis, Good Luck.
“Christmas In the Sand” | Gabrielle Lewis | Good Luck, 50 Anderson Ave.

For this spirit-forward sparkling cocktail, bartender Gabrielle “Gabbz” Lewis was inspired by the “Red Drink” punch popular with Caribbean cultures during the holiday season. It’s made with the Jamaican hibiscus (sorrel) since that's when the flower blooms.

.75 oz. Demerara simple syrup
.5 oz. Lemon juice
.5 oz. Ten To One rum
1 oz. Sorel Liqueur
2 Dashes Fee Brothers cardamom bitters
Prosecco (or other dry wine)

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake for about 10 seconds, then strain into champagne flute and top with prosecco. Garnish with a lemon twist or fresh rosemary sprig. For a group: Batch ingredients in a punch bowl with ice and garnish with star anise, fresh rosemary and lemon medallions.

Casey O'Mara, Vern's. - PHOTO BY LEAH STACY
  • Casey O'Mara, Vern's.
“The Lion’s Share” | Casey O’Mara | Vern’s, 696 Park Ave.

When he’s creating holiday season flavors, Vern’s co-owner Casey O’Mara says he thinks of “being a kid and sucking on ginger candies at my grandma’s.” For this drink, O’Mara riffed on a classic Lion’s Tail, with less bourbon and an addition of sparkling wine. Instead of simple syrup, the drink’s sweetness and holiday flavor comes from ginger syrup. In a way, you can drink your dessert. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?


 1 oz. Bourbon
 .25 oz. Fresh lime
 .25 oz. Ginger syrup
 1 Bar spoon of Allspice Dram
 Dashes angostura bitters
 Prosecco (or other dry sparkling wine)

Shake all ingredients together and serve in a chilled coupe. Top with prosecco, garnish with grated spice of choice, or none at all.

Cat Archer, Radio Social. - PHOTO BY LEAH STACY
  • Cat Archer, Radio Social.
“Winter Sunshine” | Cat Archer | Radio Social, 20 Carlson Road

Because citrus is at its juiciest and most vibrant in the winter, bartender Cat Archer knows this is the time to turn it into delicious cocktails. “The brightness of this drink breaks up the heavy flavors of most winter dishes and cocktails,” she says. Plus, it’s low ABV for easy sipping, and can easily be made into a mocktail (remove the tequila and prosecco; add soda water or zero-proof prosecco).

Winter Sunshine Cocktail
.75 oz. Citrus oleo-saccharum (recipe below)
1 oz. Silver tequila or other clear base spirit of choice
.25 oz. Lemon juice (optional, based on taste)
Club soda
Sparkling rosé

Mix all ingredients and shake well. Add a heavy splash of club soda and fill to top with sparkling rosé. Garnish with citrus peels.

Winter Sunshine Mocktail
1.5 oz. Citrus oleo
.5 oz. Lemon juice
Light splash of cranberry juice
Club soda

Mix all ingredients and shake well. Fill with club soda, and garnish with citrus peels.

Citrus Oleo-Saccharum
Peels from 5 lemons (Meyer lemons preferred, or mix several types of lemons)
Peels from 2 oranges
Peel from 1 grapefruit

Peel citrus with a Y-shaped peeler and use sugar to cover peels. Use your hands to massage the sugar into the citrus peels. Let the mixture sit, covered, for at least three hours and up to one day. At that point, fine-strain the mixture to be used immediately, or add enough water to slightly thin out the oils and gently heat in a saucepan until the sugars have dissolved. The syrup will last for one week in the refrigerator.

Leah Stacy is a freelancer writer for CITY.