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Party drinks for New Year's Eve.

OVERFLOWING with high expectations, New Year's Eve always gets top billing on the festive world stage. Whether you're stepping out to a fancy black-tie bash, an intimate dinner or the pub before the stroke of midnight, it's the perfect platform to reflect, celebrate and pop some corks.

For peak moments, a glass of sparkle is a must. Dressed in its new stylish label, Banrock Station's Sparkling Shiraz Rose NV (pounds 9.15, Tesco, Waitrose) is a vibrant pink, fruity mouthful of delicious bubbles your friends will love, and a perfect match with Thai-style canapes.

Bar essentials call for cocktails, and the super-premium vodka Ketel One's Grapefruit Julep is a superb pre-dinner party drink and thirst quencher. Thanks to Ketel One's crisp and sophisticated notes, it's also a signature voddy on the cocktail circuit.

KETEL ONE VODKA GRAPEFRUIT JULEP 50ml Ketel One (pounds 24.99, 70cl, Majestic), 12ml fresh lime juice, four fresh mint leaves, 12.5ml Grenadine Syrup, 25ml fresh pink grapefruit juice, 5ml honey.

Stir in the honey with all the ingredients before adding ice. Shake and strain over crushed ice. Garnish with a big sprig of mint and grapefruit twist.

Revellers fond of a beer should try going Dutch with an ice-cold Grolsch Premium Weizen (pounds 1.99, Asda, Morrisons). Wonderfully refreshing, with a silky, aromatic elderflower sweetness and hints of spicy clove thanks to the special yeast, this wheat beer is excellent with mushroom pate and a chicken or veggie pie.

If you're hosting an 'open house' try serving a good-quality white that's not too pricey and kind on the palate. Grand Heron Marc Ducouneau Blanc 2008, VDP des Cotes de Gascogne (Majestic, pounds 5.99) is from one of France's best-value regions and offers a fresh and fragrant glass that's delicious with battered scampi and a wedge of lemon or creamy fish pie.

For a quaffable, easy drinking red that's unbeatable value, try Cambalala Pinotage Shiraz 2009 (pounds 3.99, Aldi). Hailing from South Africa, this fruity bargain comes from the Bosman Family vineyards in the Wellington region. Less famous than Stellenbosch, but with equally outstanding grapes, enjoy jammy ripe blackberry and brambly notes, glass after glass.

New Year's Eve wouldn't be complete without a couple of show-stoppers to see in 2010.

Lincoln Driving Stream Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (pounds 10.50, Nicolas) is slightly more tropical than most of that variety coming from the New Zealand region. A succulent mouthful of passionfruit and minerality with a gentle finish that's divine with seafood canapes, sushi or Caesar salad.

CAPTION(S):

Left: Ketel One vodka with Grapefruit Julep, pounds 24.99, Majestic. Above: Grolsch Premium Weizen Wheat Beer, pounds 1.99, Asda
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 29, 2009
Words:445
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