Wilton restaurants share their New Year’s secrets

Finger foods and fancy drinks dominate Wilton’s New Year’s Eve parties, but crafting a memorable menu based on those ideas gets more difficult every year.

Flavors go out of style (whatever happened to pomegranate drinks?), people develop new allergies en masse (only gluten-free beer allowed this year), and your neighbor always finds that “next great thing” before you do.

Now, just days from New Year’s, if you’re still waiting to print name tags and haven’t gotten to the liquor store yet, look no further than the restaurants, bars and caterers of Wilton to help you craft the perfect party.

“Some things are a resurgence from the 1960s,” says Marianne Wilson, of Wilson Catering. “I’m doing mini-reubens, and gosh, people haven’t ordered those in years.”

In the past, she said, “menus were repetitive. You got filet mignon and poached salmon. But it’s been quite eclectic this year. It’s fun to have a good diversity.”

Two flavors that have dominated the palate this year, Ms. Wilson said, are bacon and butternut squash. One of her newest specialties, she said, is a shaved sirloin lollipop wrapped in bacon.

The Little Pub

On the beer, wine and liquor side of the equation, three Wilton restaurants gave The Bulletin their best suggestions for New Year’s.

Bill Taylor, a bartender at The Little Pub, said his restaurant had placed a special order for the 1759 Limited Edition Amber Ale, by Guinness.

The ale comes in at 9% ABV, and is based on a recipe from the late 18th Century. It’s perfect for craft beer lovers in the family, he said.

Cactus Rose

At Cactus Rose, the staff presented a drink a bit more common to a New Year’s get-together.

Bartender Alex Purcelea suggested his De Fuego margarita, which is sweet with just a hint of a cinnamon kick.

Mixing two ounces of cinnamon tequila with fresh-squeezed lime juice, then topping the glass with Grand Marnier, he says, makes the perfect drink. Add a Sugar in the Raw-topped rim, and it’s even more perfect.

The Georgetown Saloon

The Georgetown Saloon’s suggestion to Wilton had not much to do with the kinds of drinks you’ll serve, but how you’ll serve them.

Rather than filling martini glasses over the course of a night, the saloon’s head chef, John Brennan, says clear plastic or glass flasks make the most interesting glassware.

You can pre-make a large batch of a cocktail in a pot like soup, he said, then funnel the drinks into the flasks, label them, and put them in a refrigerator. Any kind of “old-timey” drink, Mr. Brennan said, goes well in this kind of service, from Mai-Tais to Manhattans.

Need a little help?

Ms. Wilson’s catering company handles parties planned months, or days, in advance, she said last week.

“If I can do it, I can do it. I can usually do last-minute parties. I only need a couple of days, but a month or two ahead of time is great, too,” she said.

“Some people get in a jam and just need a little bit of help. I try to accommodate everyone and anyone.”

The Little Pub is on Route 7 just before the Norwalk border. Cactus Rose is in the same shopping center as Stop & Shop in Wilton Center, and the Georgetown Saloon is across the street from the old Gilbert & Bennett wire mill.

Information: littlepub.com, thegeorgetownsaloon.com, cactusrosecantina.com, mariannewilsonscatering.com.