Budget-friendly champagne alternatives for New Year’s Eve

Champagne glasses toast

For most people, buying Champagne is something that happens once a year: for the midnight toast on New Year’s Eve.

But, you don’t have to have a Champagne budget for a Champagne taste.

Molly Wellman is a professional mixologist, who has been featured in Esquire magazine and other publications for her unique drinks.

For New Year’s Eve, she says: “People are looking for something a little different. Champagne is great, but you can spruce up Champagne.”

Wellman suggests you dazzle your guests with something different, that can cost less than fancy bubbly.

So, we met her at a favorite bar of hers, Uncle Leo’s, where she showed us some colorful, inexpensive drinks for the big night.

The Boothby

One hot cocktail these days, she said, “is called a Boothby, and it dates back to 1900.”

The Boothby cocktail mixes bourbon, sweet vermouth and sparkling white wine.

“We are just going to put a little bubbly on there, and voila,” she said.

Here’s how to make it, according to Wellman:


  • 1.5 ounces bourbon
  • 0.5 ounces sweet vermouth
  • dash of bitters
  • 2 ounces sparkling wine


Add bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters to a mixing glass, add ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top with sparkling wine.

Passion Fruit French 75

She also suggests a Passion Fruit French 75 from World War I, made with gin, passion fruit juice and, for a little sweetness, some simple syrup.

And then, add a touch of sparking wine, with no need for expensive Champagne.

Adam Teeter of VinePair says Champagne is pricey because “it is a protected name from a specific region of France.”

To get the Champagne feel at a lower price, Teeter says to try cava, which is made the same way as Champagne, or prosecco from Italy, which has a much more affordable price tag.

“You should not spend more than 25 bucks for a prosecco,” he said.

Teeter and Wellman both suggest using it in a cocktail to save on costs.

Meantime, if it all looks great, but it might be too much alcohol for some of your guests, Wellman says there is no need to worry.

Here’s how to make it at home:


  • 1.5 ounces gin
  • 0.5 ounces fresh lemon juice
  • 0.25 ounces simple syrup
  • 1 ounce passion fruit juice
  • 2 ounces sparkling wine


Add gin, lemon, simple syrup and passion fruit juice to a cocktail shaker add ice, shake shake shake. Strain into a Champagne flute and carefully top with sparkling wine.

Non-alcoholic holiday mule

She says there are also some great non-alcoholic New Year’s drinks, such as a non-alcoholic holiday mule, with cranberry juice, fresh lime juice and, finally, alcohol-free ginger beer.

“This is just a beautiful holiday drink,” Wellman said.


  • 1 ounce spiced cranberry juice
  • 0.5 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 4 ounces non-alcoholic ginger beer


To make the spiced cranberry juice: In a bottle or jar, add cranberry juice and cinnamon sticks, whole clove, allspice and star anise. Let infuse at least overnight.

To make the drink: Add all ingredients into a collins glass over ice. Stir and enjoy

About the Author

John Matarese

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