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how to host a new year’s eve party + two cocktail recipes: winter wonderful & white apple sangria

This post was created in partnership with Wheatley Vodka. All opinions are our own.

We are almost there! Just a few weeks remain until 2018 is officially behind us. There is much to be excited about in the coming months, and what better way to celebrate than with a classy New Year’s Eve soirée. Are you thinking about hosting this year? If so, you’ve come to the right place—we love throwing parties and we’re here to make the process simple and stress-free. Looking for inexpensive ways to decorate? We have some easy and effortless ideas that will make your home look festive. And for refreshments, we came up with a fun and colorful self-serve bar so your guests can mix their own drinks, leaving you more time to mingle around the party and show off how good you look in that fabulous new outfit. Today we are excited to share not one, but two delicious, holiday-appropriate cocktails for the occasion, so sit back, relax, and let’s throw a party!

We are thrilled to partner with Wheatley Vodka on this post, as we fell in love with their product after our visit in June to the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky where their vodka is produced. Under the supervision of master distiller Harlen Wheatley, their vodka is crafted using a unique recipe of wheat and other grains, distilled a total of 10 times, then triple filtered and bottled at 82 proof for a crisp, clean, and fresh flavor. This small-batch vodka is Harlen’s passion project, inspired by its connection to bourbon—and in fact, the wheat used for this vodka is the same wheat used to make their Weller and Pappy Van Winkle lines of bourbon. To take a peek behind the scenes at the distillery, check out this video from our recent trip to Kentucky and see where all the magic happens.

Please welcome to the stage, cocktail number one. We like to call this beauty Wheatley Winter Wonderful—and for good reason! It is wintry, wonderful, and as pretty as an ornament hanging on a tree. Mixed with Wheatley Vodka, our special winter juice blend—grapefruit, cranberry, passion fruit, and lime—and a splash of club soda, this cheerful beverage is appropriately garnished with ruby red cranberries and a sprig of fresh rosemary. We wanted to create something that will be quick and easy for your guests to mix themselves, and this takes just seconds to make. In an elegant coupe glass, your friends will simply combine Wheatley Vodka, the winter juice blend, and club soda, then top it with pre-made garnishes, and that’s it. These attractive cocktails are light and tangy, and here to party like it’s nineteen ninety-nine.

Our second contestant is here, bringing all the holiday cheer. She’s dressed to impress and ready to spice things up at this year’s bash—please welcome Wheatley White Apple Sangria. Mixed with Wheatley Vodka and our spiced sangria—made with white wine, fresh apple cider, sliced apples, orange juice, grand mariner, and spiced with cinnamon, allspice, and cloves—this aromatic batch cocktail is here to simplify your party prep and keep all the doctors away. Sweetened with a hint of brown sugar and garnished with a cinnamon stick and a striking row of red and green apple slices, this winter-spiced sipper couldn’t be easier to make: you fill a glass with ice, add Wheatley Vodka and the apple sangria blend, then stir it together, and that’s it. To make it easy for your guests, you can print out instructions for each cocktail on miniature signs and display them next to each setup of ingredients. Light some small candles, illuminate the table with fireworks of confetti, and you will be the hosting hero of the year.

You don’t need a large budget to decorate your space. A handful of colorful helium balloons tied with silver ribbon can brighten a room, while bringing in elements of nature from outdoors is a wonderful way to add interest without having to pay a penny. Whether you take cuttings from green shrubs or find some interestingly-shaped branches from a nearby tree, there are often beautiful decorations waiting for you right outside your front door.

This year, you will also be surprising your guests by sending them home with a few squares of rich, homemade Toasted Hazelnut Fudge, a preview from the Desserts chapter of our upcoming cookbook. They may not quite remember receiving this little gift bag on their way out the door, but they will be astounded to start New Year’s Day with it when they stumble upon it in the morning. Now all you need is a lively music playlist and you are ready to go! Looking for some inspiration? Below is a list of some upbeat tunes that will have people dancing past midnight.

The Husbands’ New Years Eve Playlist
1. Too High – Stevie Wonder
2. Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
3. Oh Baby – Little Walter
4. Turn To Stone – Electric Light Orchestra
5. More than a Woman – Beegees
6. In Time – Sly & The Family Stone
7. Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones
8. Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough – Michael Jackson
9. All Day and All of the Night – The Kinks
10. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey – The Beatles
11. Baby I Love You – Aretha Franklin
12. Statesboro Blues – Allman Brothers
13. Private Idaho – The B-52’s
14. Watch That Man – David Bowie
15. Crosseyed and Painless – Talking Heads
16. Think About Me – Fleetwood Mac
17. Grease – Frankie Valli
18. Money – Pink Floyd
19. Billie Jean – Michael Jackson
20. Ain’t That Love – Ray Charles
21. Keep on Moving – Bob Marley
22. Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing – Stevie Wonder

We would love to hear how your party goes, so let us know in the comments below and tag us on social media so we can see all your photos. Thank you so much for following along on our adventures here—we love sharing our recipes and our lives with you. This is Adam and Ryan wishing you the happiest of new years! Cheers to you, to 2018, and to a wonderful 2019!

Wheatley Winter Wonderful

1 1/2 ounces (45 ml) Wheatley Vodka
2 1/2 ounces (75 ml) winter juice blend (see below)
1 ounce (30 ml) club soda
cranberries, for garnish
rosemary, for garnish

In a coupe glass, combine the vodka and juice blend. Top with club soda and garnish with cranberries and a sprig of rosemary. Serve and enjoy!

Winter Juice Blend
makes enough for 16 cocktails

1 cup (237 ml) unsweetened grapefruit juice
1 cup (237 ml) passion fruit purée (see note)
2 cups (473 ml) cranberry juice blend
1 cup (237 ml) lime juice
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar

In a pitcher, combine all the ingredients and stir until the sugar dissolves. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to serve, up to 2 days.

note:
— When serving, keep the vodka, juice blend, and club soda chilled on ice to ensure that the drinks are cold.
— Passion fruit purée is available in many beverage or liquor stores in the mixers section.

Wheatley White Apple Sangria

1 1/2 ounces (45 ml) Wheatley Vodka
3 1/2 ounces spiced sangria (see below)
red and green apple slices, for garnish
cinnamon stick, for garnish

Fill an old-fashioned or collins glass with ice, then add vodka and sangria and stir. Garnish with apple slices and a cinnamon stick, serve, and enjoy!

Spiced Sangria
makes enough for about 16 cocktails

1 cup (237 ml) dry white wine such as pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc
5 cups (1.2 L) unfiltered unprocessed apple juice
1 cup (237 ml) pulp-free orange juice
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (36 g) brown sugar
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (40 ml) grand marnier or other orange liqueur
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 green apple, cored and chopped
1/2 red apple, cored and chopped

In a pitcher, combine the white wine, apple juice, orange juice, brown sugar, grand marnier, allspice, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves. Stir or whisk until the spices are dissolved with no clumps remaining. Add the cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and chopped apples, and stir to combine. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to serve, up to 24 hours.

note:
— Apple slices turn brown quickly. To prevent this, dip the slices in a bowl of lemon juice immediately after cutting.