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Despite New Year’s Eve being one of the biggest drinking nights of the year, liquor companies have rarely staged much in the way of New-Year’s-themed advertising campaigns.  I’d imagine this is largely because New Year’s Eve falls right on the heels of Christmas, so promotions tended to focus more on the overall gift-giving season, and less on the one-night blowout end-of-year parties. Nevertheless, there have been a few classic ads celebrating December 31st.  And the overall cultural portrayal of the countdown to midnight inevitably features cocktail parties, festive punches, popping Champagne corks, and all-around alcohol-fueled revelry.

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A 1953 ad for Mumm’s champagne

Champagne is clearly the beverage most closely identified with New Year’s, and this has proven both a blessing and a curse.  Champagne producers have welcomed the one night of attention, while striving to promote their product as a versatile, year-round beverage option.

A 1968 ad from Lejon Champagne Cellars pushes the "not just for New Year's" angle

A 1968 ad from Lejon Champagne Cellars pushes the “not just for New Year’s” angle

(Editor’s note. Notice this Lejon ad is for “American Champagne” and not “sparkling wine.” Remember when they could get away with that?) Lest their bubbly cousins steal all the fun, wineries and trade organizations also devoted some time and money to promoting their product around the holiday, suggesting it as a “moderate, relaxing” option.

This 1942 ad from the Wine Advisory Board promotes California Wine as a suitable accompaniment to New Year's Day housecalls

This 1942 ad from the Wine Advisory Board promotes California Wine as a suitable accompaniment to New Year’s Day drop-ins

As for distilled spirits, there have been a few New Year’s ads over the years that especially stood out (and didn’t merely feature “…and a Happy New Year” tacked on to the end of Christmas wishes).

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A 1951 New Year’s ad for Gilbey’s Gin

A 1946/1947 ad for Schenley Reserve Whiskey A 1950 Seagram's ad An ad for Vat 69 Scotch from 1937/1938 A 1938/1939 Bacardi ad A "New Year Cocktail Calendar" Kinsey Whiskey ad from 1945/1946 A Smirnoff ad from 1979/1980: "...and so the eighties begin."

Of course, if you’re having friends over, there’s always been the option of pre-mixing some elaborate concoction in a punch bowl, and serving it up to your guests.

A 1977 New Year's Punch recipe card

A 1977 recipe card for New Year’s punch

Really, aside from the traditional Champagne toast as the clock strikes twelve, there’s never been a single stand-out beverage that’s become identified with New Year’s – which is fairly freeing, as it allows everyone to make their own choice, and sip on whatever strikes their fancy.  You can throw a formal party and serve Martinis, you can drink a Manhattan while watching the Times Square ball drop, or if you wish to get especially thematic, you can enjoy a sip of Scotch or Canadian Whisky after singing your heart out to Auld Lang Syne (a song written by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788, and popularized in the US by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians during their annual New Year’s Eve broadcast).

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The options for New Year’s libations are practically limitless.  So figure out how you want to spend your night, find something you like to drink, and begin your new year in the proper way: full of happiness, hopefulness, and delicious cocktails!