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Toast the season with any (or all) of these cocktails

In my line of work, every night is a celebration. It’s a wonderful thing to get the chance to share in so many celebrations of special events or occasions in their lives. The only time better, I think, is the holiday season. I love the excitement and energy in the air, not to mention dressing up, going out and that wonderful, festive feeling. Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary or a holiday or just bringing your best friends together, chances are there’s a fabulous drink in your hands to toast the evening. Just as you put a special outfit together or take the extra time to carefully wrap a gift, a handcrafted cocktail adds a liquid bow to any evening. Bubbles are a great way to start a celebration and have always been invited to the party. Sparkling wines are beautiful and fun to sip. I happen to love putting champagne, sparkling wines, and Prosecco in anything I can. Of course, people have enjoyed champagne cocktails since before 1861.

Enjoy these cocktail recipes and add them to the celebration. A little something extra and a little something different. It’s a perfect time to try something new. No matter what we’re celebrating this season, let’s take a little time to stop and reflect on milestones made in our personal or professional lives and to gather with our friends and loved ones. Raise a glass and make a toast. It’s only the beginning! Cheers!

While the original champagne cocktail was made with Arastoga bitters, there are now an amazing number of wonderful, flavored bitters to choose from. I have just encountered Stirrings Blood Orange Bitters. It is not bitter at all and adds beautiful body to a new, simple champagne cocktail creation. (You may also enjoy the blood orange bitters in your coffee, tea, or soda. Really, anything to see if it tastes good. It does.) This champagne cocktail, made with blood orange bitters, is easy to make, fabulous and comes in a beautiful flute. Enjoy this at an elegant party or give your mimosa a run for its money at brunch.

Blood Orange Champagne Cocktail

.5 oz Stirrings Blood Orange Bitters

1 sugar cube
4 oz Prosecco
orange twist for garnish

Place a sugar cube in the glass and soak it with the bitters. Next, pour the champagne. Pour slowly and at an angle because the bubbles tend to get a little crazy. Garnish with an orange twist and enjoy the fancy feeling.

Last night, four beautiful women, one of whom was a birthday girl, walked up to the bar. This is always fun because I know I have the perfect cocktail for them. This is the drink that’s gonna wow ‘em. It’s my favorite special occasion cocktail: The Ruby. I’ve enjoyed this drink for a few years and over time it has taken on some new names and a few twists. I’ve served it as a shot, over ice, and as a martini, depending on the setting and the time of year. Even if my party guests don’t particularly like the main ingredient of grapefruit, they always enjoy this drink.

The Ruby

1.5 oz Belvedere Pink Grapefruit Vodka or Absolut Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka

.5 oz St Germain

1 oz grapefruit juice float of Prosecco

Here’s how to do it: First, chill the Belvedere and St Germain separately in your fridge or freezer. You want them cold but don’t want to add ice. Ice only adds water to the mix. In the first shot glass, put the chilled vodka and in the second glass the St Germain and Prosecco. Squeeze a wedge of fresh grapefruit so that just a small amount of juice joins the mix. Then, slice another portion of the grapefruit into sections so that there is nothing but pulp. Drizzle agave nectar over the sections and put in the fridge to chill. The agave nectar will firm up and hug the grapefruit, so you’ll have a candied piece of grapefruit to enjoy at the end, as well as a long grapefruit twist for garnish. Imagine sitting with your best friend or special someone and taking small sips and little bites over fabulous conversation. As a host, you’ve set up a beautiful gift to be unwrapped and enjoyed. Almost using the same ingredients as The Ruby, but in a slightly different way.

Combine the first three ingredients with big ice cubes in a mixing glass. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass with a half sugar rim. Float Prosecco to fill the glass and garnish with a grapefruit twist. (Note: add .5 oz of fresh lemon juice and you have the W’s Rio Grande Martini.) This cocktail is so easy and beautiful. Definitely a party hit! You can also break The Ruby down for a more intimate experience: over a cheese plate, or as an “amuse booze,” a dessert, or just for conversation.

Speaking of gifts, each year during the holiday season, I receive special little balls of pure joy and wonder: Godiva chocolate raspberry truffles. They’re so rich and yummy that I take my time and savor every bite. Fortunately, you can keep these flavors going because Godiva also makes liquor. Why not whip up a Chocolate Raspberry Martini? This is a sippin’, sweet treat. Serve this cocktail at your special gathering and be prepared for hugs!

Chocolate Raspberry Martini

1 oz Godiva chocolate raspberry vodka

.5 oz Godiva chocolate vodka

.5 oz Chambord

Combine the vodkas in a shaker tin with big ice cubes and stir. Strain into a chilled martini glass half rimmed with raspberry-flavored sugar. Carefully add Chambord to the side of the glass. (It is best to use a pour spout.) The Chambord will sink to the bottom of the drink making for a beautiful presentation. This drink is lighter than you might think and has a lower alcohol content for those a little martini shy.

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