NEW JERSEY — Brian Ireland has witnessed many a New Year’s Eve from behind the bar, serving drinks at pubs and taverns in Atlantic City and New Brunswick over the years before going on to become the founder and master distiller of Mr. Finger’s Alibi Gin in 2018. (See his cocktail recipe below.)

Ireland recalled some of his NYE experiences, saying that mostly everyone is sipping on booze (instead of their usual IPA orders), and that Champagne is typically reserved for first round or the final midnight toast, but never to sip casually throughout the night.

“The most hectic part of any New Year’s Eve, regardless of the style of bar,” he said, “is making sure every last one of your patrons has a drink in their hand at 11:59 p.m. No one wants to ring in the New Year with an empty glass.”

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And while some swear by gin, whiskey lovers will tell you that this spirit’s warmth makes it the best drink to enjoy in the dead of winter.  

Mike Paladini, co-owner of New Jersey-based Penelope Bourbon, said his product “always seems to taste better sitting next to a fire on a cold winter night.” 

Whiskey is also a great choice for New Year’s Eve because it has a warm, inviting, cozy vibe, and it can be dressed up with flavorful mixers or dressed down to sip neat.

No matter which spirit your prefer, here are three recipes to ring in the new year.


The New Leaf (courtesy of Brian Ireland)

Here’s to your resolutions — may they last past February.

2 oz. Mr. Finger’s Alibi Gin

.5 oz. elderflower liquer

1 oz. raspberry simple syrup

tonic water

sage leaf

Fill a highball glass with ice, add Alibi Gin and the other ingredients, top with tonic water (he prefers Q* Indian Tonic), place a sage leaf on the edge of the glass and lightly toast it with a torch lighter. 

For raspberry simple syrup: Heat 1 cup of water with ½ cup of sugar and ½ cup of mashed raspberries; bring to a boil then simmer, then let cool. Strain and store in the fridge until you’re ready for cocktails. 


Poppy's Sparkler (courtesy of Penelope Bourbon)

For a festive and fun NYE cocktail.

1 oz. Penelope Bourbon

4 oz. pomegranate Juice

.5 oz. fresh lime or orange juice

.5 oz. simple syrup*

Sparkling wine, such as Prosecco, chilled

For one cocktail: Combine bourbon, pomegranate juice, lime juice and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a flute or coupe glass. Top with chilled sparkling wine.

For many cocktails: Double, triple or quadruple the bourbon, pomegranate juice, lime juice and simple syrup. Combine in a large mixing bowl or pitcher. Chill for several hours. When ready to serve, divide among several flutes or coupe glasses and then top each glass with chilled sparkling wine.


New York Sour (courtesy of Penelope Bourbon)

A nod to the famous ball drop in Times Square.

2 oz. Penelope Bourbon

1 oz. lemon juice

1 oz. simple syrup*

.5 oz. Malbec wine

Blackberries, optional

Combine bourbon, lemon juice and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well chilled. Pour over ice and top off with Malbec. If desired, garnish with blackberries.

*Editors note. To make plain simple syrup, combine one part water with one part sugar in a jar. Shake vigorously until sugar is dissolved. Store in refrigerator.

More on NJ Flavor:

New Jersey Date Night: Romantic Restaurants

Some NJ Restaurants Betting on Outdoor Heaters to Survive This Winter

NJ Chocolatiers Scrambling to Keep up with Hot Chocolate Bomb Demand

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