Champagne is a bully. It swaggers in to every New Year's Eve party like it owns the joint, it forces you to use a special glass (such a diva) and it gives you a wicked hangover that starts about 30 minutes after your first sip, instead of having the decency to wait until the next morning.
Well, we won't stand for it anymore. This year, we're 86'ing champagne. Here are five better beverages that are just as festive – some of them even give you the same bottle-popping fun.
Not just any beer, though. Saisons, tripels and wheat wines approximate champagne's tickly, fine carbonation and delicate aromatics, without sparkling wine's sticky, yeasty sweetness. Try Brooklyn Sorachi Ace, Chimay White or Bruery Barrel Aged White Oak.
Or maybe you like that yeasty, sweet vibe? Sparkling sake might be the tipple for you. The carbonated version of the delicate rice wine is served cold; it can be hard to find in local liquor stores, but it's served over the bar locally at Shin Japanese Cuisine Sushi and Sake Bar, Shari Sushi Lounge, Kabooki Sushi and Sushi Pop.
In America, it's not easy to find a hard cider that isn't waaaay too sweet (unless you're lucky enough to live in the Hudson Valley or Portland, Oregon, both of which are blessed with multiple local cider makers). For a dry, sparkling quaff try Samuel Smith's Organic or Blackthorn English Cider. Rekorderlig Pear Cider is nice, though on the sweet side, but avoid the other flavors.
It's as fun to say (sorta like "glerg" without the R) as it is to drink, and almost as easy to make – sort of a Scandinavian sangría. There are a kajillion recipes for it on the Internet, but the basics are red wine, aquavit (or some clear liquor), and a combo of orange peel, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and cloves, simmered on the stove and served warm.
CHAMPAGNE JELLO SHOTS
Just can't quit that sparkling wine? Make it more fun by making it edible (snag the recipe on our Salivation Army blog); jello shots made with champagne are sparkly and wiggly. Just like you on New Year's Eve.