New Year’s Eve: it’s all about celebrating the year that was and looking forward to the one ahead. Children (mine included) enjoy toasting with a glass—or sippy cup—as much as grownups do. My husband Paul and I have always cherished this wonderful night of bidding farewell to the old and ringing in the new. And now four-year-old Pierpaolo, our older son, can join us for some good cheer.
To create a memorable new tradition, I asked Duane Sylvestre, head bartender at Michael Mina’s BOURBON STEAK restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC., to serve up some fun, beautiful, tantalizing and easy-to-make “mocktails.” The ask: deliver all the taste of their namesakes without the alcohol.
Duane has more than 13 years of bartending experience, including winning four recent cocktail competitions. I was pretty sure he’d craft the perfect New Year’s Eve concoctions for Pierpaolo and his three-year-old friend Helena. He did. Duane came up with four: Nosé, (non-alcoholic Rosé), Mini Tai (non-alcoholic Mai Tai), Stoplight and “My Favorite ‘cause it’s Pink.” Instant hits.
Pierpaolo and Helena began with the Nosé, a sweet and flavorful pomegranate beverage with cinnamon syrup and just enough fizz to resemble the true Rosé. The trick to this drink is the lemon twist at the end, which makes the sparkles. We clicked champagne flutes and savored our bubbly.
We moved to round two: Mini Tai and Stoplight. Helena liked the Mini Tai’s abundance of crushed ice and the straw, which made it easy to sip. The combination of almond syrup with fresh lime and orange juice? Just right. The colorful Stoplight is ideal for juice lovers, blending freshly squeezed juices and bursting with strawberry, lemon and kiwi. Although Pierpaolo dipped into the Stoplight, he went right back to his Nosé.
Our final round was Helena’s fave: a healthy and pretty cucumber-and-cranberry drink. She aptly named it “My Favorite ‘cause it’s Pink.” Pierpaolo’s stayed with the Nosé. When he asked for another, Duane warned us to watch out for our young son’s expensive taste!
The kids toasted 2012, bellies full of duck-fat fries and their new signature mocktails in hand. Now we know what to serve at next year’s party. Cheers!
Nosé non-alcoholic Rosé
¾ ounce POM Wonderful (pomegranate juice)
¾ ounce cinnamon syrup*
5 ounces sparkling water or Club Soda
Pour all ingredients into a champagne flute and stir. Garnish with a lemon twist. Makes one mocktail.
*To make cinnamon syrup, take three cinnamon sticks and boil (covered) in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes or until the water is an amber/brown color. Stir in 1 cup of sugar until dissolved. Cool before using.
½ ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce fresh orange juice
1 ounce Orgeat/Almond Syrup* (homemade is best, but it’s available in Italian specialty stores and coffee specialty shops)
3 ounces filtered water
Combine all ingredients and serve over crushed ice. Garnish with a full mint sprig. Makes one mocktail.
*To make Orgeat, combine 2 cups of almond milk with 3 cups of white sugar in a saucepan. Heat and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Cool before using.
2 ¼-inch thick cucumber slices (round)
1 ounce Agave Nectar
½ ounce fresh lime juice
2.5 ounces cranberry juice cocktail (Ocean Spray)
In a mixing glass, muddle the cucumber rounds with the lime juice. Add in the syrup and cranberry juice. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain (use a fine strainer to remove the cucumber bits) into your service glass; I suggest a 12- to 14-ounce Collins or tumbler). Fill with ice and top up with cold Club Soda. Garnish with a cucumber round. Makes one mocktail.
1.5 ounces lemonade
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce grapefruit juice
1 ounce orange juice
5 drops vanilla extract
Place all ingredients into a large (16-ounce) tumbler, stir and then fill with crushed ice. Garnish with fruit rounds (kiwi, lemon and strawberry) into a stoplight pattern along the inside of the glass. Makes one mocktail.
Liliana Baldassari has been with Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC. for seven years and joined public relations in 2008. The Cornell Hotel School alum has also worked with Four Seasons in Aviara, Toronto and Miami. A trilingual Colombian native, Liliana has enjoyed watching Washington’s transformation over the past 11 years. She lives in the West End with her husband and their two boys, Pierpaolo and Alessandro. Liliana’s family enjoys traveling and experiencing different cultures, cuisines and languages, all of which abound in the nation’s capital.
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