Friday, December 30, 2011

Let's Raise a Sparkling Glass to 2012 Without Even a Hint of Guilt!

I quit hosting New Year's Eve parties when my New Year's Day brunch became a neighborhood event.  So I had to do a little thinking about how I could help you put a healthier twist on something special to ring in the New Year.  I came up with 2 really delicious, sugar free sparkling Sangrias and a delicious berry filled sparkling water mocktail for everyone who wants to take a pass on alcohol but not the flavor of the evening! 

All three concentrate on the bold flavors of fruit and all three are very budget friendly drinks your friends will love!  And don't forget that each of these delicious drinks is filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants!  So now you can raise a glass to 2012 without even a hint of guilt . . .

In the Holiday Citrus & Rosemary Sparkling White Sangria, I incorporated seasonal fresh citrus fruit including tangerines, ruby red Texas grapefruit, exotic blood oranges and brilliant pomegranate seeds muddled in a very sweet Moscato wine and topped with a very reasonably priced sparkling wine.

In the Holiday Dried Fruit & Thyme Sparkling White Sangria I incorporated the bright flavors of dried cranberries, dried apricots, candied ginger and fresh pears with just a sprinkling of brilliantly red pomegranate seeds.

Surprisingly enough the most popular drink I concocted is the Sparkling Very Berry & Sage Mocktail.  This alcohol free drink is made from Knudsen's Just Pomegranate Juice, fresh berries, pomegranate seeds, fresh sage and my secret weapon Topo Chico sparkling water!  Of course, you can use any sparkling water but Topo Chico is the bubbliest, bubbly water I have ever found!

So raise your glass and toast 2012 without even the slightest hint of guilt and do it with those you love! Below are the recipes for each . . . enjoy!

Holiday Citrus & Rosemary Sparkling White Sangria

A truly bright and delicious cocktail that reminds me of all of the great things about winter . . . sparkling lights, fresh citrus fruits and ruby red pomegranates!  This one is light and refreshing with a nice bubbly finish.  

Yield – 6 cups

1 cup Moscato or Columbia Valley ice wine
1 small to medium sized Texas ruby red grapefruit quartered and thinly sliced
1 blood orange thinly sliced 
2 tangerines thinly sliced
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup orange juice
1 cup ruby red grapefruit juice
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary
½ bottle sparkling wine, I used Cremant de Bourgogne

Blend fruits, 1 sprig rosemary and Moscato in a large pitcher with 3 cups crushed ice, stir to blend well.  Top with 1/2 bottle sparkling wine and serve in individual glasses that contain a piece of citrus, a few pomegranate seeds and a small sprig of rosemary.  Serve and toast to good luck and good friends!

Holiday Dried Fruit & Thyme Sparkling White Sangria

This sparkling cocktail uses a sweet wine to poach dried fruit and pears as the base for this delicious and special drink.  Top it off with a reasonably priced sparkling wine and your friends will think you are a fantastic mixologist!

Yield – 5 cups

1 cup Moscato wine
1/8 cup candied ginger, chopped
1/3 cup fruit sweetened dried cranberries
1/3 cup dried apricots halved
1 Bosc pear halved and cored
4 large sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 bottle sparkling wine, I used Cémant de Bourgogne, Blanc de Blancs

Place Moscato and fruit in a medium sauce pan, cover and bring to a simmer until the pear is softened and the dried fruits are reconstituted.  Remove from heat, add 1 sprig thyme and refrigerate until completely cooled.

Pour cooled wine and fruit into a pitcher.  Thinly slice pears and add to the pitcher as well as 3 cups crushed ice and 1/2 bottle sparkling wine.

In each cocktail glass add a few pomegranate seeds, a few pieces of fruit and a small sprig of thyme.  Fill with sangria and enjoy!

Sparkling Very Berry & Sage Mocktail
This is an insanely wonderful non-alcoholic cocktail that will have all of your friends raving!  The intensely flavored pomegranate juice, fresh berries and sage all blend together to create a delicious drink and when topped with my favorite bubbly water it is so wonderful that no one will miss the champagne! 
Yield – 4 cups

1 1/5 cups Knudsen’s Just Pomegranate juice
1 cup white grape juice or white sparkling grape juice
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup blackberries, fresh or frozen
1/3 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
2 large sprigs fresh sage
2 11.5 ounce bottles Topo Chico sparkling water, or your favorite sparkling water

In a large pitcher mix juices, half of the fruit and 1 large sprig sage and muddle to blend flavors.  Add 3 cups crushed ice, remaining fruit and the Topo Chico.  Place a berry or 2, some pomegranate seeds and a sage leaf in each glass, fill and enjoy!

Now that  we have addressed your New Year's Eve celebration, tomorrow I will provide a recipe sure to bring you good luck in 2012!

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