Whether you prefer a sparkling blowout of a party or a quiet night at home on the couch, New Year’s Eve deserves a special cocktail. Enter The Sequin, a fabulous Armagnac-based concoction crafted just for you by Willa Van Nostrand, the award-winning mixologist behind catering operation Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails of Providence. With the motto “from garden to glass,” Willa aims to please the palate and concoct a feast for the eyes. Here, she presents the perfect libation for New Year’s Eve, a pick-me-up for the day after, and a mocktail for teetotalers (or little people) who want celebrate with style.
With The Sequin – a twist on the traditional sidecar – she’s swapped Armagnac for Cognac (they’re cousins), and added a some extra citrus for brightness. “I adore Cognac,” explains Willa, “but it’s a pricey style of brandy to use in mixed drinks, especially if you’re making a batched cocktail. Armagnac is a cost effective alternative, and has a really lovely palate – specifically, butterscotch and vanilla notes that lend themselves to mixing.” Make it by the glass, or mix up a batch as a signature cocktail to delight your entire squad.
And because a few bubbles always put a little sparkle back in everyone’s mood the following day, Willa’s also concocted the Olympia Spritz, a lightly sweetened, sparkling delight. “A good ‘hair of the dog’ cocktail needs to be light, simple, and just sparky enough to add the bounce back to your step,” adds the mixologist. “This one is great bc it’s deliciously refreshing and there’s very little prep involved.”
Prefer to avoid potential regret or just need a non-alcoholic option? The virgin Persephone Sparkler, made with lime, ginger, and pomegranate, is the perfect potion for night or day. “The pomegranate symbolizes the cyclical change of seasons,” says Willa, “and reminds us that spring follows winter. Persephone, in this case, is a ray of sunshine on a cold winter day.”
Yes, these cocktails require a little more effort than popping open the Veuve and pouring it straight out of the bottle, but the send-off to the holiday season is totally worth it, right? No matter how you celebrate, New Year’s is a time to reflect on times gone by, and to look forward with hope to the future. So go ahead and make a special drink then raise a glass and make a toast to auld lang syne and all that’s to come. After all, every sequin needs a spotlight to really make it shine. – Meaghan O’Neill
The Sequin (our favorite sidecar)
makes 1 drink
1½ ounces Armagnac (I <3 Marie Duffau Armagnac)
½ ounce Dry Curaçao or Cointreau
½ ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
½ ounce fresh squeezed Honeybell tangelo juice (or substitute your favorite fresh citrus juice here)
Granulated sugar for glass rim*
Pour liquid ingredients over ice, shake hard and strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with sugar. Add a twist of orange in homage to a classic sidecar. Yields 1 cocktail.
*To prepare a sugared rim, coat the outside lip of the glass with a citrus wedge and roll the edge of the glass in sugar. Allow to dry as you build the cocktail.
The Sequin, batched
makes 16 drinks
24 ounces Armagnac
8 ounces Dry Curaçao or Cointreau
8 ounces fresh squeezed lemon juice
8 ounces fresh squeezed Honeybell tangelo juice
12 ounces filtered water for dilution (simulates shaking the cocktail)
16 orange wheel wedges, for garnish (optional)
Pour liquid ingredients into a non-absorbent vessel, stir, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before your party. Coat 16 glass rims in citrus juice, roll in sugar and set aside on a large tray. Stir again before serving. Divide the batch between each glass (3.75 ounces per glass). Yields 16 cocktails. Garnish with orange wheel if desired.
Tip: When batching cocktails, the rule of thumb is to add 25–30 percent water to the total batch in order to make up for ice that melts when you stir or shake a cocktail. In the case of The Sequin, the extra citrus juice allows us to add less water to the batch. By adding more citrus juice, we bring down the alcohol content a little for our guests (believe me, they’ll thank you on New Year’s morning!) and it’s a prime opportunity to add a little exotic citrus spin on the recipe. Winter is the season for fresh citrus; take advantage of the bounty!
Olympia Spritz (hair of the dog on Mount Olympus)
makes 1 drink
1/2 ounce Creme de Cassis (I love Giffard Cassis De Bourgogne)
1/4 ounce Dry Curaçao or Cointreau
Champagne or Prosecco
orange wheel, for garnish
Pour liqueurs in Champagne flute and top slowly with chilled bubbly. Garnish with an orange wheel. Sip. Sunshine!
Persephone Sparkler mocktail
1 teaspoon fresh pomegranate seeds, plus more for garnish
½ inch fresh ginger, diced
1 lime wedge (½ lime, cut into quarters)
sparkling water (or substitute ginger beer for a sweeter variation)
Muddle lime wedge, fresh ginger, and pomegranate seeds in the bottom of a sturdy rocks or highball glass. Add ice and sparkling water and garnish with additional whole pomegranate seeds.
Photos by Glenna Van Nostrand