Notes: For a nonalcoholic alternative, substitute lemon-lime or club soda for the cognac and Champagne. If making syrup up to 1 week ahead, chill airtight.
2 quarts cranberry juice cocktail
8 slices (quarter size and about 1/8 in. thick) peeled fresh ginger
2 cinnamon sticks (about 3 in. long)
2 whole star anise
1/3 cup cognac or brandy
8 cups Champagne or other sparkling wine (about 2 2/3 bottles, 750 ml. each), chilled
32 to 48 fresh cranberries, rinsed, or frozen cranberries (optional)
How to Make It
In a 3 1/2- to 4-quart pan, combine cranberry juice, ginger, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. Boil over high heat until reduced to 2 cups, about 1 hour. Let cool about 30 minutes, then pour through a fine strainer into a small pitcher. Chill syrup until cold, at least 1 1/2 hours.
For each serving, pour 2 tablespoons of the cranberry syrup and 1 teaspoon cognac into a Champagne flute (6 to 8 oz.). Add 1/2 cup (4 oz.) Champagne. Garnish with 2 or 3 cranberries if desired.