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I know that I said I was not going to write about cocktails for New Year’s Eve, but I decided to retract my previous statement. I have a fraternity brother who is throwing a small New Year’s Eve party, and he facebooked me asking if I could help him plan the drinks. I’m sure this is, in part, because I am attending said New Year’s Eve bash.

I think a New Year’s Eve party is the most difficult holiday party to pull off. I know many people think it’s Halloween, with which I would almost agree. However, unlike New Year’s, a Halloween party can be on either Friday or Saturday night before or after Halloween, and it can also be held on Halloween. Party throwers only get one shot at New Year’s Eve per year. It’s not like you can throw a New Year’s Eve party on December 30th. It’s a one and done evening. So the question is: if you want to, how do you put your New Year’s Eve on the map? How do you make it special?

With all good parties, you need a group of people who will mesh will together, preferably with and without booze. I have often thrown the failed party, where one group of people is in the basement (like law students,) another group is in the kitchen (the gay friends,) and the third group is outside or in the living room (the friends of the straight roommates). Everyone leaves with no one really talking to each other. Unfortunately, this can only be accomplished through trial and error. Please remember this simple rule: New Year’s Eve is not the night for trial and error. It is better to have a small New Year’s Eve party that people will want to come back for, than a large party where no one mingles. People will remember that party and not come back the following year.

Second , the drinks. The drinks needed to be “themed.” I don’t mean that everything needs to be tropical, but New Year’s Eve is a night for celebration, and thus, should be celebrated. Obviously, the good party planner will make sure there is enough champagne for all to have champagne at midnight, but what do you do in advance? An important aspect of any good party planning is that the drinks need to be easy but also complement each other. There is no reason for people to switch from vodka to gin to bourbon to beer to champagne to wine, unless they’re an idiot. I will admit that I have had those nights, even recently, and they have not turned out well. Do not encourage people’s stupidity.

So, how do you piece the drinks together? A good drink menu, like a good dinner menu or mix of people, creates a diverse but harmonious experience. This is my suggestion for my friend:

New Year’s Eve List of Materials for 12

12 bottles of Champagne (1 case)

1 1.75 L bottle of Vodka

1 750 mL bottle of Raspberry Liqueur

1 750 mL bottle of Triple Sec

1 64 oz. container of Orange Juice

1 64 oz. containers of Cranberry Juice

1 64 oz. container of Pineapple Juice

From this list you can make a surprisingly large number of drinks.

In order:

Champagne, by itself

Mimosa

Poinsettia

A Mimosa, but with Cranberry Juice instead of Orange Juice.

Champagne Cosmopolitan

Add 1 oz. Cranberry Juice and 0.5 oz. triple sec, then pour champagne on top.

Kir Royale

The Arthur

Equal parts Vodka, Cranberry Juice, and Champagne

Screwdriver

French Martini

Cape Code

Cosmopolitan

1.5 oz. Vodka

1.5 oz. Cranberry Juice

0.75 oz. Triple Sec

You get a lot of variety from this menu, and all of them are two to three ingredients so it’s easy for people to serve themselves. You can always premix Cosmopolitans and then set them out when the party starts.

Michael says that the good party host will have a bartender, but that’s unnecessary.

Total Cost:

12 bottles of champagne: $60

1 1.75 L bottle of Vodka: $20

1 750 mL bottle of Raspberry Liqueur: $10

1 750 mL bottle of Triple Sec: $5

1 64 oz. container of Orange Juice: $5

1 64 oz. container of Cranberry Juice: $4

1 64 oz. container of Pineapple Juice: $4

Total Cost: $108

This should suffice for a party of about 12.

Happy New Year’s Eve, enjoy ringing and drinking in 2012, and, as always, happy and safe drinking.

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