Even as I sit here on my kitchen stool this morning, I'm making plans for our New Year's Eve celebration, which is colorful in its own way (we have a peculiar tradition involving sushi, sparkling rosé, and this year, plenty of catching up on series nine of Doctor Who as we count down to midnight). But I'm also daydreaming of this vibrant cocktail I created for a recent New Year's Eve-themed party in the desert, which echoes all the feelings of that particular evening: the brilliant colors of the Arizona sunset, the sweetness of memory, the effervescence of hope for the new year, the surprise crunch of pomegranate seeds as metaphor for whatever 2016 will bring.
Persian-style sticks of saffron rock candy (also known as nabaat) are traditionally swirled around in cups of hot tea as a sweetener, but I'd never seen them reimagined as a cocktail swizzle stick. Turns out, the fizz of sugary sweetness is a perfect match for a dry champagne or other sparkling wine, and the earthy background note struck by the saffron is a beautiful surprise. Tiny, jewel-like pomegranate arils bob around like edible party confetti, or like a fruity version of another favorite New Year's tradition of mine, caviar. The occasional pop between your teeth of these juicy little seeds is honestly my favorite part of this drink, which I'm calling the New Year's Saffron Sparkler. Tying a few strands of shiny gold mylar to the end of each nabaat stick to symbolize the burst of a sparkler is optional, but lovely!
New Year's Saffron Sparkler
Saffron rock candy sticks
Dry sparkling wine (champagne, prosecco, cava, etc)
Place a rock candy stick in each glass, fill with champagne nearly to the top, then garnish with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds. Toast immediately and enjoy while the bubbles last!
Here's to a beautiful 2016, friends!! May your new year be filled with joy, sparkles, friends, love, bubbles, and COLOR!