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Residents ready to sip down some cider
Food and beverage experts share trends for New Years Eve
Tap It, a business with a plethora of beers, also offers two carbonated fruit beers for its customers. Both beers are popular for holiday parties. - photo by Kelsey Williamson

Crostini with tapenade

For the tapenade:

  • 1 1/2 cups pitted mild brine-cured green olives, such as Luques or picholines, black niçoise olives or a combination
  • 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry
  • 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the crostini:

  • 24 thin baguette slices
  • Nonstick olive-oil or vegetable-oil cooking spray or olive oil as needed
  • Pimiento (sweet pepper) strips for garnish (optional)

To make the tapenade, in a food processor, combine the olives, anchovies, capers, parsley, garlic, cognac, lemon juice and white pepper. Pulse once or twice to combine roughly, then add the olive oil and pulse briefly, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The texture should be chunky, rather than a smooth puree. Set aside.

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet and coat them lightly with the olive-oil spray, or brush lightly with olive oil. Bake until golden, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the toasted baguette slices to a serving platter. Spread each one with about 1 tablespoon of the tapenade, then crisscross 2 small strips of pimiento on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Hors d’Oeuvre, by Brigit L. Binns

New Year’s Eve parties have always existed as the final celebration of a year past. Fizzy champagne, sparkling clothes, silly glasses and savory treats are characteristic of the occasion, but in recent years, new trends have begun to flourish.

While the customary midnight toast, airings of the ball drop in New York, live music, big crowds and late nights still prevail, new food and drink ideas are infiltrating the event. And local vendors and restaurants are adapting.

Instead of champagne, local business Tap It has seen a rise in the purchase of craft beer growlers, with seasonal flavors being the most popular.

“Cider has been the most popular,” Tap It owner Zack Thompson said. “It has a very champagne-y flavor.”

The cider, called “Original Sin,” is a best-seller. Thompson and manager Patrick McCormac had to make an extra order of the product just to keep up with requests for New Year’s Eve.

The sparkling, fruity brew pairs well with many different food options and can be used in mimosas, Bellinis and other fizzy cocktails. It has a lighter flavor, which McCormac notes is typical for events after Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“Everyone trends toward a lighter type of beer because of the heavy meals of Christmas,” McCormac said. “And a lot of New Year’s resolutions involve lighter foods and less calories.”

Many people serve a variety of appetizers at New Year’s Eve parties, so versatile beers tend to be popular. McCormac suggests a pale ale or lighter wheat beer for these foods.

“Any type of IPA is good with spicy appetizers or a strong cheese,” he said. “The bitterness in the beer counteracts the heat or the pungent flavor. Finger foods are most popular because a full meal may be hard to stomach.”

In addition to the popularity of craft and local beers, 2 Dog Café owner Tim Roberts noted crafted liquors and spirits are trending as well.

“Bourbon seems to be the big thing that people are doing,” Roberts said. “All kinds of craft bourbons with house or fresh-made mixers go with it. People are moving back to traditional drinks like Manhattans but have gotten really creative with mixology.”

Creative drinks pair well with creative foods, so Roberts suggests a few appetizers with a twist that are not messy and quick to make.

“Some of the things that we do if we are catering an event would be tomato, mozzarella and balsamic on a slice of French bread,” he said. “Another thing that I like is a crostini with buttered French bread, salt and pepper with a black olive tapenade. It has a little bit of spice to it.”

For the spicy foods, McCormac recommends a New Belgium White IPA that is light and will help cut any spice. For the bourbon lovers, try a brew that has been aged in bourbon barrels to infuse the flavor of the spirit.

Roberts mentioned the most recent New Year’s Eve trend is a post-party breakfast spread.

“A lot of people serve a big breakfast at one or two in the morning after people have settled down,” he said. “They can do things like eggs benedict, some type of corned beef hash, omelets and down here, grits. It’s not the easiest thing to do, though.”

Many people enjoy this large midnight breakfast with fruity drinks. Thompson noted sparkling beers, like Lindemans Framboise or Peche lambic, complement the eggs, potatoes, bacon and fruit nicely.