Tale of the New Year’s Toast

Words by Teresa Spencer

The New Year’s toast is a custom that celebrates of the advent of a new year.  Made at the stroke of midnight usually while standing up is unlike most other toasting traditions which are usually made just before consuming a meal. Well, at least that’s how the ancient Romans did it.

In the late 17th century, it was common practice to add scorched bread or a stale crouton to a glass of wine as it was known to improve the quality of poor wine. No one is certain when the first “toast” was actually made, but it’s believed to be in the 6th century B.C. The practice began to praise the gods while wishing for health and wellness.

Another theory on how the practice of toasting began is traced back to the pagan religion in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. Practitioners would drink from a ritual cup that was filled with blood or wine. Any that was left was offered as a gift to their gods wishing for good health, prosperity and love.

Since its inception in 1792, the Old Farmer’s Almanac indicates that the act of toasting was used in medieval times to ward off evil. As glasses clinked and people cheered, they believed that these actions, along with spilling some on the floor, would satisfy the bad spirits so they would not bother the peasants, serfs and farmers. Another theory according to the almanac is that toasting simply enhances the senses, meaning clinking glasses added a festive sound to the occasion and promoted coming together of friends physically in a communal celebration.

Of course, the New Year’s Eve toast is a tradition that is celebrated all over the world with many variations. The Japanese sip sake while a bell is struck 108 times. Russian toasters write a wish on paper, burn it and throw it into a glass of spumante to be consumed at the stroke of midnight. Germans toast with “Feuerzangenbowie” (or “drink of fraternity”) served in a bowl of red wine spiced with cinnamon, cloves and orange peels. Here in America, champagne seems to be the most common choice for the NYE toast or whatever you have in your hand if you weren’t lucky enough to get a glass of champagne. 

In the spirit of the tale of the new year toast, we came up with a small list of suggestions we found for your New Year Toast in the Jacksonville area.

Cheers!  May you all have a very safe, happy and healthy New Year. 


The Shandy Khan, named for Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, is an homage to our great city and our football team. With the Jaguars kicking ass this season and having a game on New Year’s Eve, we have to show some love so we propose a toast for good luck at the home game in hopes of slaying the Ravens. Hopefully a second toast at midnight will be in order celebrating their victory. The Shandy Khan drink originated at Restaurant Orsay and was created by mixologist Josh Strickland. Strickland uses local ingredients such as rum from Marlin & Barrel Distillery in Fernandina Beach and Jon Boat Coastal Ale from Intuition Ale Works, which happens to sit right next door to the stadium. The other ingredients include lemon juice, honey syrup, orange bitters and a float of blue curaçao.

While on our search for the perfect NYE cocktails for toasting, we came across another teal, Jaguar-themed drink from cusskitchen.com. The Gettin’ Jaggy Wit It, Jaguar Fan Cocktail is a tropical blender treat made with pineapple chunks, grapefruit juice, vodka and blue curaçao. Oh, yes, and they recommend topping it off with gold sprinkles to stay on theme.  

The Must Be This Tall to Ride drink is absolutely Duuuvalicious. Created by Sarah Karl from the Barley Republic in St. Augustine. Karl uses Jacksonville’s Manifest Marshmallow Fluff-infused potato vodka. With raspberry syrup, lemon juice, Sint Maarten guava berry rum, Aperol, blue curaçao and Giffard Banane du Bresil Banana Liqueur, it’s like an adult snow cone and cocktail wrapped up into one. The ingredients are shaken in a tin cup and strained into a coupe glass with shaved/pebble ice topped with a mint garnish. 

And with champagne being America’s official New Year’s toast beverage, let’s not forget Jacksonville’s own Silkie’s Chicken & Champagne Bar. Owned and operated by celebrity chef and award-winning cookbook author Kenny Gilbert, Silkie’s offers a wide variety of champagne drinks including Girls Night Out, Bajan Lover, Sexy Red Dress, Southern Belle and Sundress in Springfield. The best part is you can order a champagne flight with your choice of four 5-ounce cocktails.

Cheers to that!



About Teresa Spencer