Go Wild With Bubbles This New Year's EveHoisting the same old toast at midnight is about as much fun as watching those once-famous celebrities count down the Big Ball in Times Square. This New Year’s Eve, shake things up with a new take on holiday cheer.

First things first — get your fun on by getting your budget in line. Choose thrifty sparkling wines that will be just as enjoyable as the expensive stuff, to all but a few wine snobs (and they’re no fun at a party, anyway). Just walk right past the “champagne” aisle at your wine store: true champagne, while elegant and sophisticated, will cost four or five times more than a bubbly from other parts of Europe or California.

Look instead for Cava (from Spain) or Prosecco (from Italy). They’re great straight up, or make terrific sparkling cocktails like the ones below. And they’ll suit any tastebuds — many are available in Dry (Brut), Semi-Dry (Semi-Seco) or Sweet (Dolce).

And don’t wait until midnight to break out the bubbly. Sip it all night New Year’s Eve, either straight or blended, and while you’re at it, make up your own delicious sparkling cocktails. Here are some easy tips for creating custom drinks (and remember, you’re not doing brain surgery here, so Go Wild With Bubbles This New Year's Evejust grab a few interesting ingredients and give it a go).

  • Pour an ounce or so of any fruit liqueur into the bottom of a champagne flute, and add sparkling wine to fill the glass. Kir Royale is a famous cocktail made with Creme de Cassis (blackcurrant liqueur). Try raspberry liqueur instead (Chambord or the cheaper-but-just-as-good Mathilde or Massenez), for a delicious treat.
  • Mix any flavored Vodka with bubbly: the sparkling lightens up the liquor. Try a Caribou Martini, with roasty, toasty coffee vodka brightened by fruity bubbles.
  • Dress up a Cosmo for New Years Eve by adding bubbly to the traditional Vodka, Triple Sec, cranberry juice and fresh squeezed lime.
  • Go colorful and kinda sweet: start with Blue Hypnotiq and pour on the sparkling.
  • And for you Moscato fans, throw some strawberries, sugar and ice into a blender. Fill half your glass with the puree, and then add sweet Moscato on top for a luscious Strawberry Bellini.

Whether you’re dancing till dawn at a Gala, or rockin’ the evening at home with friends, go for a new take on bubbly, and have a Happy New Year!