While there’s never really a bad time to eat caviar, New Year’s Eve provides an especially good excuse to indulge in this decadent and expensive treat. Exceptional caviar delights all your senses, with its subtly briny odor, creamy texture, and flavors that range from earthy and nutty to crisp, clean tanginess.
To get the most out of your caviar experience, there are some simple guidelines that experts recommend following. “Caviar is like the wild, wild west; there are a lot of claims and, sadly, very little to back them up,” cautions Island Creek Oysters' “Oysteress” and head of sales, Dana Hale. “The first rule of thumb when buying caviar is to purchase it from someone you trust. When you have faith in your source, you know the quality is high.”
As far as the classic pairing of caviar and Champagne, Petrossian’s vice president and caviar expert Alexandre Petrossian has some valuable advice. “The most important thing to consider when choosing a Champagne for your caviar (or vice versa) is to ensure that they complement, rather than compete, with one another,” he says. “A sweeter champagne, with a creamier profile, will often drown out the natural salinity of your caviar and deny you some of the glorious, lingering, buttery finish.” Instead, he recommends a drier “brut” or “brut natural” Champagne to enhance your experience, but ultimately advises going with what tastes good to you.
This New Year’s Eve, there are many ways to enjoy caviar: at home, by ordering from online purveyors; or out on the town at bars and restaurants offering special menus. Here are a few options for a luxe experience, wherever you choose to indulge.
Petrossian is one of the most respected caviar purveyors in the world. The company was founded in Paris in 1920, and now has cafés and boutiques in New York, Los Angeles, Europe, and Dubai. Petrossian caviar is of the highest quality and is carefully stored, matured, and monitored to ensure its consistency. There is a huge selection available to order online, but Alexandre Petrossian has some recommendations. “For a lower price-point caviar, we always recommend the Royal Ossetra ($123 for a 30 gram tin),” he says. “If you’re looking for something extra-special, our Special Reserve Ossetra ($394 for a 30 gram tin) is sure to impress even the most advanced caviar connoisseur.” petrossian.com
Island Creek Oysters
Island Creek Oysters is relatively new to the caviar scene, but the company has some impressive bona fides. It already provides oysters to chefs like Thomas Keller and Paul Kahan, so moving to caviar seemed like a natural next step. The company has partnered with California’s Sterling Caviar Farm to offer caviar and oyster pairings, or caviar on its own. “There are a few beverages that work particularly well with both oysters and caviar,” says Dana Hale. “The classics, Champagne and vodka, are clean, dry and astringent and don't mask the full flavor of the delicacy.” She also recommends a crisp white wine, or even a high-end tequila or mezcal. islandcreekoysters.com
Dean & DeLuca
Dean & DeLuca has a wide variety of gourmet food to purchase in its stores around the country or order online, including high-grade caviar. Caviar master Rod Mitchell recommends experimenting with a range of options and flavors. For something more affordable, he suggests classic white sturgeon caviar ($375 for a 4.4 oz tin) that has truffle undertones (suggested pairing: Louis Roederer Champagne). On the higher end, try the Imperial Gold caviar from farm-raised sturgeon ($1,050 for a 8.8 oz tin) that has a clean, nutty flavor (suggested pairing: vodka or Dom Pérignon). deandeluca.com
The Lobster Place
This NYC seafood retailer has a small but well curated selection of caviar to choose from. Davis Herron, director of retail & restaurant division at The Lobster Place Seafood Market and Cull & Pistol Oyster Bar, enjoys pairing Champagne with caviar, but urges customers to think outside the box. “Wines with more residual sugar, like Riesling or Chenin Blanc, often do wonders when paired with caviar,” he says, “as the roundness from the sugar complements the rich and creamy flavors.” Herron suggests buying a few varieties of caviar to compare and contrast, from the pricier Ossetra to the more affordable domestic farmed white sturgeon and hackleback roe. lobsterplace.com
New York City’s upscale Japanese restaurant Zuma is offering a caviar and Champagne special throughout the month of December, with the possibility of continuing even longer into the winter. For $250, a party of two can enjoy a 30-gram tin of Sturia Oscietra Grand Cru caviar along with a half bottle of Krug Grand Cuvée Champagne and Japanese-inspired snacks and small bites. This offer is available in the Zuma lounge, and would be a perfect way to enjoy some caviar and high-class bubbly this New Year’s Eve. zumarestaurant.com
If you’re looking to get out of town this New Year’s Eve and fly in style, the French all-business-class airline La Compagnie has a special for you. For $750, you can purchase a one-way ticket to fly from Newark to Paris on this luxury airline, departing December 31. In addition to the regular perks like lie-flat seats and touchscreen tablet entertainment, Petrossian caviar and Piper-Heidsieck vintage 2008 Champagne will be served “liberally,” according to the website. That’s not a bad way to ring in the New Year at 36,000 feet up in the air. lacompagnie.com
Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room
Bar SixtyFive sits atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza, offering spectacular views stretching out across the city in all directions. This year’s New Year’s Eve festivities include a Champagne and caviar open bar from 10 pm to midnight, serving Calvisius caviar from Italy. Tickets start at $325 for general admission, and peak at $20,000 for a Platinum Lounge pass. This includes a private suite for 20 people with a view of the Times Square ball drop, open bar, premium Champagne, and mounds and mounds of caviar. rainbowroom.com
Baccarat Hotel Tsar Nicholas II Tea
The Baccarat Hotel offers several versions of its renowned afternoon tea in the Grand Salon, but the best one to enjoy this New Year’s Eve would be the Tsar Nicholas II Tea. For $400, two guests get a 30-gram tin of Tsar Imperial Ossetra caviar from Petrossian, along with small bites and a half bottle of Krug Grand Cuvée. For $600 you can enjoy a full bottle, and $2,900 gets you a bottle of Dom Perignon P3 1985 Blanc. Enjoy some caviar, Champagne, and tea in the afternoon, and continue the party all through the night (reservations are required). baccarathotels.com
Northern Divine sells Canadian caviar that is certified organic with no salt, antibiotics, or hormones added. The company focuses on sustainability, sourcing its caviar from farmed sturgeon raised in controlled aquaculture systems. You can purchase the caviar at stores throughout Canada, or you can order online. Prices start at $42 Canadian for a 12-gram tin. You can also purchase Mother of Pearl spoons, a traditional caviar serving utensil. northerndivine.com
Caviar Russe has a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City and another outpost in Miami serving fine food along with some really excellent caviar. “At Caviar Russe, we specialize in Osetra caviar,” says managing director Ilya Panchernikov. “It offers a buttery, nutty flavor with excellent texture—you can feel every grain in your mouth.” You can also order online, with options ranging from $75 to $345 per ounce. Panchernikov recommends the Caspian Sea Classic Osetra at $95 per ounce. Caviar Russe works in conjunction with the Convention for the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) to ensure that caviar will remain a sustainable product. caviarrusse.co