In reality, my plans to love New Year’s Eve were often thwarted by my parents who never wanted to go out, or if they did it was to an early bird buffet. They also never drank. Well, that’s not completely true. My mother would take a few sips of a cocktail and then say she was light headed couldn’t drink the rest. My father might make it through one, but these were always frozen or fruity drinks. After our 5 PM dinner and my parents’ sips of alcohol, our family would spend the evening at home playing board games and watching Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve. From my living room in Indiana, I would sit and watch all of those people in Times Square with their silly glasses and confetti and I'd imagine being there in the crowd of cheering drunk people. New York City was so foreign to a Midwest boy like me.
One year I distinctly remember saying, “someday I will be in New York for New Year’s” and my parents, looking horrified, said, “You don’t want to go there. It’s busy and dirty and you’d be freezing.” They took a similar stance about the dangers of the roads in our city of 40,000 people: “There are drunks out there, best to stay in on a night like this.” But I was determined to love New Year’s Eve regardless.
What did sustain me through those years of staying in and watching the ball fall on TV was Barry Manilow’s performance around 1 AM of “It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve.” By this point, my sisters would be in bed or asleep on the couch. My mother would, for sure, be in bed, possibly going before the stroke of midnight, and my father would be snoring in his La-Z-Boy. It was often just me, Barry, that overly sentimental song, and the beginning of a brand new year. See, I’ve been a huge fanilow from the time I can remember. I had all of his cassette tapes as a kid and would often sit on my bed with my walkman and listen to him for hours. Many of the tapes I inherited from my grandmother who died when I was nine, but also shared my love of Barry. On summer vacations, the five of us (my parents, two sisters, and me) would pack into our Cadillac and drive from Indiana to St. Pete Beach. This was an 18 hour drive and to fill the time we’d take turns picking the music and every time it came to me I would select a Manilow tape. And just in case you are wondering, yes, I actually did still have to come out to my parents when I turned 20.
This annual viewing of Barry Manilow’s song continued for years and even into my adulthood. After moving to Florida to go to grad school, I remember making my boyfriend stay up and watch it. Yes, my at home New Year’s Eves continued for some time. I went to grad school in Tallahassee, which isn't exactly jumpin' jumpin'. Each year Barry got older and older, and so did I.
It hasn’t been until the last two years that I have actually had more wild and crazy New Year’s Eves out on the town here in Orlando, but I often think of Barry Manilow in those first few hours of the new year no matter where I am. I haven’t made it to New York City, but it’s still a goal.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve also become a functioning alcoholic and find that New Year’s Eve is even better with the perfect cocktail (who knew?). For this challenge, I wanted something festive, but also full of alcohol. When you think of New Year’s, you think of champagne, so that is where I started. But I didn’t want any old champagne, so I bought Moscato Spumante Champagne made by Barefoot Wines. The Barefoot Moscato is my favorite wine ever (don’t judge me). It’s sweet and delicious. Plus, Barefoot is a huge gay supporter. I've had many a free sample at a gay pride event, which is actually where I first tried the Moscato Champagne. Next, I thought a shot of Vodka would help out the alcohol content. I then added white grape peach juice and some frozen grapes. I have to say it was refreshing and sweet. You can easily knock these back, so you might want to have some snacks to munch on while you are waiting on Barry (as a Midwest boy, I would recommend a good cheese ball).
Here is the exact recipe for The Don’t Pass Out Until Barry Manilow Sings New Year’s Eve Cocktail:
1 shot of Vodka
1 shot of White Grape Peach juice
Fill the rest of the glass with Moscato Spumante Champagne
Garnish with frozen grapes
This cocktail is sure to please and will have you singing Barry Manilow tunes all night long.