It’s happening, folks: 2020 is finally coming to the end (and not a minute too soon). It’s time to look forward to a fresh start in 2021, and we’re getting excited to ring in the new year with—you guessed it—cheese. Whether you’ll be reaching for a boozy beverage or a mocktail this NYE, we’ve got you covered with drink pairings that’ll carry you through to midnight and beyond.
Sticking with the classics? There are so many sparkling wine options aside from capital-C Champagne that will satisfy your craving to fill a flute, even if you’re on a budget. Look for Crémant, a French wine almost identical to Champagne but with a lower price tag, Spain’s native cava, or Italy’s prosecco—all tried-and-true favorites with a similar bubbly goodness. When it comes to the perfect cheese pairing, you can’t go wrong with a rich and indulgent triple crème—it is the holidays, after all.
Remember the New Years of our childhoods, when we were served the syrupy kid’s version of Champagne—AKA sparkling cider—at midnight? Well, we’re rekindling that nostalgic joy with the grown-up version of the drink now. Sparkling cider has been evolving in recent years, and there are countless breweries across the country that offer boozy and non-alcoholic versions of the drink for every palette. Try the sweeter bottles with aged, grana-style wedges, and pair dry ciders with tangy chèvre or sheep’s milk cheese.
If you haven’t already noticed, bitters—especially in cocktails—are trending. Once an aid for illness and stomach aches, they’re now the glue that holds many cocktail recipes together, and they’re a perfect match for cheese. Try a classic Old Fashioned with some funky blue cheese, or put a bitter-spin on a Moscow Mule with a soft-ripened goat cheese. (The options are endless—get more inspo here.)
Looking for something different to sip on this season? The oft-overlooked shrub might be the sweet-and-sour beverage you didn’t know you needed. This sweetened drinking vinegar infused with fruit works great as a base for a cocktail or non-alcoholic drink—plus, it can be made with over-ripe fruit and stored for months in advance. When it comes to pairing shrubs with cheese, think of classic combos: apple shrubs with nutty cheddar, citrusy shrubs with fresh chèvre; berry shrubs with creamy mascarpone.
Maintain the sparkling wine tradition—but with a twist. Add a splash of fruit juice, some bitters, and a garnish to your Champagne flute for prime holiday excellence. This blueberry pomegranate sparkler is easy to put together, and it emits that holiday party vibe—even if you’re just sitting at home in your sweatpants. Plus: you can feel better about all-night-long refills knowing some of the booze has been offset by juice. Try it with some aged, mold-ripened goat cheese for the ultimate festive combination. And keep the refills (and cheese wheels) coming.