Take a Champagne cocktail, forget the sugar, add some ruby port and orange juice and you have a "Happy New Year." It really is the name of this fantastic drink and it is an ideal way to ring in the new year.
As Champagne cocktails go, this one has a little more depth than most and that is what makes it interesting. The addition of port and orange juice bring in fantastic fruit notes that play wonderfully off the brandy and sparkling wine.
This is an outstanding New Year's Eve cocktail. It's also perfect for any of those extra special occasions when you really want to knock the socks off your guests.
Pour the brandy, port, and orange juice into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Top with Champagne.
Endless Brand Possibilities
There are many elements going into this cocktail and many options for each. You really cannot go wrong with any of the choices and you can have a lot of fun playing around with different brands for each.
One of the better combinations we've found is Sandeman's 10 Year Old Port (actually a tawny port, though they make a great ruby as well) with fresh-squeezed orange juice, Korbel Brandy, and Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut Champagne. However, we really have yet to find a bad combination because this is simply a great cocktail no matter what you pour.
This is also a fantastic drink that can fit into any budget. There are great options in every price range for the brandy, ruby port, and Champagne. You can spend as much or as little as you like and have a fantastic drink to serve guests.
A Primer on Port Wines
Most of us are very familiar with everything in the happy New Year recipe. The one exception may be the ruby port. Like vermouth, ports are a style of fortified wine though ports have a much more pronounced fruit taste as opposed to the botanical profile of vermouth. This is, for the most part, because they are fortified with brandy before aging.
There are distinct styles of port and they are either wood-aged or bottle-aged. Ruby port is considered the introductory port wine. It is younger, less expensive, and used most often when a port is called for in cocktails. Other styles include tawny, vintage, and white port.
How Strong Is the Happy New Year?
This is a very difficult question to answer because there are so many options available for each alcoholic beverage that go into the cocktail. To get a general sense of the drink's strength, we will use some averages.
Let's say that we mix the cocktail with a 40 percent ABV brandy, a 12 percent ABV Champagne, and a 19.5 percent ABV port. With these, we can estimate that this cocktail is about 17 percent ABV (34 proof). It is a relatively light cocktail and about what we would expect from a wine drink.