FARGO — Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but New Year’s Eve is the biggest night.

Of course, this year New Year’s Eve will be very different as more people stay home to avoid crowds and possible exposure to COVID-19.

That includes bartenders. With bars in North Dakota scaling back occupancy and Minnesota watering holes temporarily closed to slow down the spread of the virus, some mixologists are sitting this one out.

You can take the bartender out from behind the bar, but you can’t take the bar out of the bartender.

iStock / Special to The Forum
iStock / Special to The Forum

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Jarad Tandberg, bar manager at the Hotel Donaldson in downtown Fargo, offered up some festive libations to make at home, which is where he’ll be on Dec. 31.

On any other New Year’s Eve, the Hotel Donaldson would be a hopping spot, but this year the bar and restaurant parts of the downtown Fargo landmark will be closed, like they have been since mid-August to help stop the virus from spreading.

Tandberg says last New Year’s Eve, he worked from 11 a.m. until 5 a.m. on Jan. 1, estimating that he and the other two bartenders made over 1,000 drinks.

“It was a lot of fun, but the most stressful job ever,” he says.

iStock / Special to The Forum
iStock / Special to The Forum

This year will be a lot easier. He’ll stay home with a nice bottle of wine and play video games and watch a movie. As a diabetic, he’s concerned about COVID-19 and tries to avoid crowds.

“I’m going to miss the crowds and the creativity of people coming up to the bar and asking you to make a special drink on the spot,” he says.

While some restaurants and bars offer takeout drinks or cocktail kits, here are some spirited beverages Tandberg says the amateur mixologist can make right at home.

A sweet choice

If you haven’t had enough sweets this season, try a Santa’s Little Helper.

Ingredients:

1 ½ ounces amaretto

¾ ounce tart cherry liqueur or something similar

¾ ounce pineapple juice

Directions:

Shake and pour over ice.

For extra holiday cheer, grind up a graham cracker and rim a martini glass with the grounds.

Fresh and fruity

If you want something fresh, consider Strawberry Fields Forever, one of the HoDo’s most popular drinks.

Ingredients:

1 ½ ounces strawberry vodka

¼ ounce honey

½ ounce lime juice

½ ounce ginger liqueur

Directions:

Muddle a strawberry and basil leaves. Shake vigorously, and strain over ice.

Garnish with a basil leaf rolled into a cored strawberry and serve in a martini glass.

Punch it up

If you’re looking for a little more punch, have a Peachy Irishman.

Ingredients:

1 ½ ounces Jameson Irish whiskey

½ ounce peach schnapps or liqueur

½ ounce lemon juice

½ ounce simple syrup

3 basil leaves

Directions:

Muddle leaves, shake vigorously, pour in pint glass filled with ice and garnish with a new basil leaf.

Add some heat

If you really want to warm up, try this twist on a margarita, Wizards of Jalisco.

Ingredients:

1 ounce silver tequila

½ ounce Chambord or a blackberry liqueur

¼ ounce honey

½ ounce lime juice

Directions:

Shake vigorously and pour over ice.

For added cheer, rim half the glass in sugar and the other half in salt.

No alcohol necessary

If you’re not drinking alcohol but want something that tastes good, try this spin on a mojito.

Ingredients:

½ lemon cut into wedges

6-8 mint leaves

½ ounce simple syrup

3 drops vanilla extract

Directions:

Muddle together, shake well, pour over ice, top with Sprite or soda and garnish with new mint leaves and a lemon wedge.