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A Proper Toast
New Year's Eve cocktails (Photo: iStockphoto)

5 New Year’s Eve Cocktail Recipes from Some of NYC’s Best Bars

Throwing a New Year's Eve party this year? We have five fantastic cocktails from four of New York City's most renowned cocktail bars, plus can't-fail tips for planning the ultimate cocktail party

The midnight toast: It’s the most important part of ringing in the New Year. And if you’re hosting the party, you’ll want to make sure that everyone has a terrific drink in hand. recently joined Steve Schneider, bar manager of the popular West Village cocktail bar Employees Only, and star of the recently released documentary film Hey, Bartender! for a live Google + video chat. During our talk, Schneider showed us how to make the bar’s iconic Fraise Sauvage, in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions. See the recipe, plus three more from some of our favorite NYC bars below, and check out Steve’s tips for hosting a picture-perfect New Year’s Eve party.

For the countdown, Schneider recommends the festive Fraise Sauvage cocktail from Employees Only. “The Fraise Sauvage has been one of our more popular cocktails since we’ve opened,” he says.  “Essentially it’s a jazzed-up French 75.” It’s sparkly, refreshing and festively crimson-colored for the season.


Fraise Sauvage from Employees Only

Fraise Sauvage from Employees Only (Photo: Erin Behan)

Fraise Sauvage from Employees Only
2 oz prosecco
1.25 oz gin
.5 oz simple syrup
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
.5 oz homemade strawberry puree

Place ingredients in a mixing glass. Shake with ice and serve up with a half strawberry garnish.

Non-alcoholic version of the Fraise Sauvage from Employees Only
2 oz ginger ale
1.25 oz orange juice
.5 oz simple syrup
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
.5 oz homemade strawberry puree

Place ingredients in a mixing glass. Shake with ice and serve up with a half strawberry garnish.

Try these other cocktails from respected New York City bars at midnight, too:


The Shanty

The bar at The Shanty  (Photo: Courtesy of The Shanty)

The Superfund from The Shanty
“This is a cocktail that celebrates New York — past, present and future,” says New York Distilling’s Allen Katz, who makes the Chief Gowanus gin that is the basis of the cocktail. “Chief Gowanus is historically based on what Dutch immigrants were distilling in New York (and elsewhere in New Netherland) 200-plus years ago,” Katz explains. “It is a unique hybrid of gin and whiskey — notes of rye, bright juniper berries and just a hint of hops on the finish. Soft, round aromas of caramel and vanilla come from a scant three months in oak before bottling.” Katz adds that The Superfund is “an excellent aperitif, classically stirred so all of the flavors of the cocktail can evolve on the palate.”

2 oz Chief Gowanus New-Netherland Gin
1 barspoon simple syrup
1 barspoon Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curacao
2 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Bitters
1 dash absinthe

Stir ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and serve.


The Dead Rabbit

The Dead Rabbit (Photo: Courtesy of the Dead Rabbit)


Lambs Wool from The Dead Rabbit
In New York City, New Year’s Eve is traditionally a freezing cold evening, so even if your party isn’t in the middle of Times Square, you’ll want your guests to feel warm and fuzzy. This hot cocktail from the popular Financial District bar is a great way to heat things up.

Says Dead Rabbit bar manager Jack McGarry: “The Lambs Wool is an English drink dated back to the 17th century. It’s a typology of Wassailing,” which is essentially caroling while drinking cider. Originated in the southwest of England, “the ceremony consists of singing and drinking to the health of the apple trees. Wassail literally translated means, ‘be you healthy.'” It’s a perfect alternative to the usual warm drinks, such as the Irish coffee, whiskey toddy or hot apple toddy.

4 oz Founders porter
2 oz Powers Irish whiskey
3 oz spiced apple puree*

Heat the ingredients in a saucepan, and once it starts to boil, strain the drink into a coffee mug and finish with freshly grated nutmeg.

*For spiced apple puree:
32 oz apple sauce
1.5 liters ginger syrup
2oz Everclear spirit

Blend with hand-held blender and strain through a cheesecloth.


The bar at Schiller's

The bar at Schiller’s (Photo: Courtesy of Schiller’s Liquor Bar)

The Tenement from Schiller’s Liquor Bar
This recipe from the famed bar is courtesy of the recently published Schiller’s Liquor Bar Cocktail Collection, a four-book boxed set of bartenders’ guides that’s an essential for any cocktail-lover’s shelf.

The cocktail itself was created by Schiller’s and named for the buildings of the Lower East Side, which are emblematic of the wave of immigrant population in New York City in the 19th century. Not coincidentally, Schiller’s is located in a tenement building in the neighborhood. Think of this drink as a martini dressed up for New Year’s Eve, sophisticated but with humble roots.

1 oz Old Tom gin
.5 oz dry vermouth
.5 oz apricot brandy
.5 oz Cointreau

Pour the gin, vermouth, brandy and Cointreau into a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir well with a bar spoon for 40 to 45 revolutions and strain into a chilled martini glass.

For the best experience, Schneider has a few additional tips that he shared with us on our Google + video chat, which we’ve helpfully listed below.

Gather essential bar tools
Schneider recommends for bar tool shopping. On his list are a hand juicer for the freshest, quick juicing; silicone ice trays for easy freezing and releasing of 1-inch cubes; a cocktail shaker with mixing glass; bar spoon; strainer; small measuring cup; and jigger.

Don’t skimp on the ice
No ice means no party. Schneider estimates that you’ll use about five, one-inch cubes per cocktail. “Think about how much you need and double it,” Schneider says. Also, make sure your ice is fresh. If ice is in freezer too long it will pick up flavor and odors from everything else in your freezer.

Don’t run out of alcohol
When purchasing alcohol, plan on 15 drinks per bottle for 1 liter.

Use garnishes creatively
Have more than one garnish on hand so that you can distinguish between alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails. Lemon, lime, orange, and strawberries make for festive garnishes.

Plan your set-up
“Will you be making drinks for your guests or will they be making their own drinks?” Schneider asks. Plan the set-up accordingly. Schneider likes to have a bar with a few bottles of booze, mixers and basic tools so guests can make their own drinks and another area where he mixes his own drinks for his guests.

Keep your guests hydrated
Always have plenty of water on hand for your guests.

Consider drink ingredients carefully
For the best party, Schneider recommends serving drinks that are refreshing and both easy to drink and easy to make without too many ingredients. Stay away from overly alcoholic drinks and shots if you want the party (and your guests) to last to the ball drop.

Employ your senses
Use all of your senses when making a cocktail. Taste it with a straw before adding ice for balance. Make sure it looks good. Listen to the ice when shaking to know when it is starting to break down.

Be ready when your guests arrive
Make sure you have a drink ready for your guests as soon as they walk in the door. It makes you seem like a great host. Also, be sure to serve food throughout the night to soak up the alcohol.

Have fun
Don’t forget to have fun! And with that, here’s to a very happy New Year’s Eve from

Click here to read more about great ways to celebrate the holidays in New York City, and don’t forget to check out our deals and discounts for tours, cruises and shows this holiday season.

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