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You still have time to stock the bar for your New Year's festivities

Emma Janzen

New Year's Eve is the designated night for celebrating the triumphs and tribulations of the last 12 months, and to properly usher in the hope and promise for the future.

It also happens to be one of the year's most booze-soaked holidays. So, it's imperative to have a well-stocked home bar to quench revelers' thirst and prepare weary spirits for another calendar year. This New Year's Eve, find balance by embracing old drinking traditions and welcoming a couple of new ones to keep things fresh and exciting. Here's what you will need to stock up on to make sure everyone remains sufficiently lubricated for the evening's festivities.

Let's start with the bubbly.

Champagne commands its rightful position as the toast that accompanies the kisses and cheers each year at midnight, marking the dawning of the new year. Its bold flavors, fanciful bubbles and sparkling hue create an unquestionably festive and sophisticated party tipple.

Mark Sayre, sommelier at Trio at the Four Seasons, says, "In terms of complexity and prestige, Champagne can't be beat." He recommends grower-producer Champagnes such as Gaston Chiquet, Pierre Peters, or Rene Geoffrey brands. This style of "farm to fizz" production yields a Champagne with a unique "individuality, personality and soul," says Sayre. Champagne also can be mixed with stronger spirits to yield a more potent liquid cheer. Want a vintage twist? Throw in an Angostura bitters-soaked sugar cube and you've produced the 1800s-era Champagne Cocktail. If you prefer a drink with a little more gumption, try the French 75 — a combination of Champagne, gin, lemon juice and simple syrup.

In the spirit of inventing new traditions, let's mix things up by welcoming a second sparkling wine to the party. Hailing from northern Italy, prosecco acts as a bright and refreshing alternative to its more expensive cousin Champagne. Sayre recommends the style for its clean and fruity qualities. Its lighter body and more aromatic style make it easily approachable. These traits also give prosecco the ability to mix well with other spirits. For example, try celebrating with an Aperol Spritz. The Italian aperitif Aperol (a lighter version of the popular bitter Campari) complements and balances the sweetness of prosecco to produce a flirtatious and festive cocktail. Sayre says that prosecco has quickly become a common request at Trio and suggests starting with Adami or Villa Sandi brands.

Before getting too carried away with the bubbles, remember that not everyone wants to swim in the effervescent bliss of sparkling wine all night. It's a good idea to supplement your cabinet with a mixture of stiff backup options to accommodate those with a thirst for something with a bit more oomph. Aim to acquire at least one representation of each base spirit to start. By integrating a respectable gin, whiskey, vodka, rum, tequila and brandy into your home bar, you've created an arsenal of spirits perfect for firing off any number of cocktails or mixed drinks.

Larry Richardson, a fine spirits consultant from Spec's Wine, Spirits & Finer Foods Brodie Lane location, encourages customers to stray from the mainstream brands and try something off the beaten path for this year's revelries. For example, the Texas distilling scene is booming, and most local distilleries offer high quality liquors within the $20-$30 range. Try Treaty Oak Platinum Rum, Tito's Vodka, or Balcones Baby Blue corn whiskey to sample the breadth the Texas spirits industry has to offer. Richardson also recommends a few relatively under the radar brands such as Citadelle Gin, Campo Azul tequila, and Claude Chatelier VSOP Cognac to enhance your collection.

There are a few more ingredients required for creating delectable holiday elixirs, each holding a prime place in the oeuvre of the home bar. Like the black sheep of the family, modifying spirits and bitters often get overlooked, yet they are crucial for creating any drink beyond a "spirit and Coke" or "spirit on the rocks."

Luckily, there are only three secondary spirits in this category that are essential to concocting a wide variety of drinks, and they all clock in less than the $20 mark. Vermouth sits at the top of the list — make sure you have a bottle of both sweet (red) and dry (white). Dolin is the recommended brand, but Noilly Prat also works, Richardson says. Second, a solid orange liqueur also should have a place in the liquor cabinet. The fresh citrus profile of local Paula's Texas Orange illuminates cocktails such as the basic margarita and cosmopolitan.

Finally, a couple dashes of bitters can provide a depth and nuance to classic cocktails. Angostura bitters provide an excellent launching pad for the novice home bartender. They are cheap, easy to incorporate, and add an interesting dimension to most drinks (even nonalcoholic ones — to keep your designated drivers happy). However don't underestimate how powerful bitters are — many are quite potent and only a dash or two are needed to properly season a drink.

Now that you've fully populated your bar with base spirits and have a couple of key modifiers in your back pocket, you can display your home bartending prowess by mixing up classics like the martini, Manhattan or daiquiri on the fly. Remember to provide plenty of water and food for your guests, who will thank you the next morning when they wake up sans hangover.

Below are some recipes for putting your freshly stocked liquor cabinet to good use. See more recipes for holiday drinks and variations of the cocktails listed below in our online cocktail database at austin360.com/go/cocktails.

Champagne Cocktail

Angostura bitters

Sugar cube

Champagne

Lemon twist

Coat a sugar cube in a couple dashes of bitters. Place the saturated cube in the bottom of a Champagne glass. Fill with Champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist.

French 75

1 oz. gin or cognac

0.75 oz. simple syrup

0.5 oz. lemon juice

3 oz. Champagne (approximate)

Lemon twist for garnish

Combine the gin, syrup and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake hard. Strain into a chilled Champagne flute and top with Champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist. (To make the simple syrup: bring 1 cup of water to a boil over the stove. Add 1 cup of sugar and stir until dissolved. Let cool. If you prefer a less sweet ratio, try 2 parts water to 1 part sugar.)

Aperol Spritz

1.5 oz. Aperol

2 oz. prosecco

Splash of soda

Orange slice for garnish

Add the Aperol to a chilled Champagne flute. Add the prosecco and top with soda. Use an orange wedge or slice as a garnish.