Start your Saturday or Sunday with fresh ideas for morning and early afternoon imbibing.
What’s the best part of lazy weekends? Brunch, of course. And there’s just no way to think about ordering anything sweet or savory from the menu without something spirited alongside. The Mimosa and the Bloody Mary are always in style, but these cocktails – inspired by everything from Vietnamese coffee to sugary breakfast cereal to a classic diner breakfast order – really give you something to bounce out of bed for.
Winter on the Equator
Recipe courtesy of Sam Lyden, bartender, Presidio, Chicago, IL
After Lyden goes out for Vietnamese food in Chicago’s Argyle and Uptown neighborhoods, he takes a Vietnamese coffee to go to drink during a walk. “Watching the combination of dark roast coffee, condensed milk and cinnamon being thrown together is a real treat,” he says. “This drink was inspired by those days out.” Coffee and chicory play nicely together, while vodka and rum add dimensions of flavor and texture.
- 1 ½ oz. Chicory- and coffee-infused vodka (see Note)
- ½ oz. Plantation 5 Year Rum
- 3 oz. Sparrow Roastery Coffee and cream mix (a 4:1 mixture of Vietnamese dark coffee cold-brewed with Carnation Condensed Milk; feel free to use your coffee brand of choice)
- Cayenne pepper, for garnish
Add all ingredients except garnish to a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake until chilled, and double-strain into a milk jug. Dust with cayenne pepper.
For the chicory- and coffee-infused vodka:
Add 2 heaping tablespoons of chicory tea and a small handful of coffee beans to a bottle of vodka. Leave overnight at room temperature (the vodka should turn a whiskey-brown color). Strain out solids through a fine strainer or coffee filter, and store the vodka indefinitely in a cool place.
Bacon & Eggs
Recipe courtesy of Datz, Tampa, FL
This whimsical eye opener has two of breakfast’s most popular proteins. Egg white gives it a nice froth and creamy mouthfeel, while bacon lends a smoky and salty note. The shape of the lemon garnish is reminiscent of a sunny side up egg, too.
- 2 oz. Old Forester Bourbon Whiskey
- 1 oz. Lemon juice
- 1 oz. Simple syrup
- 2-3 dashes Orange bitters
- 1 Egg white
- Lemon third, for garnish
- ½ slice of Cooked bacon, for garnish
Add all ingredients except garnish in a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice, and garnish with the lemon third and half slice of cooked bacon.
Recipe courtesy of Wildhawk, San Francisco, CA
Who says you can’t have Campari for breakfast? This booze-forward cocktail uses the same ingredients and ratio as the classic libation; the only difference is that red vermouth is infused with a chocolatey, childhood favorite breakfast cereal which brings out its dark cocoa and spice notes. “Because it stays within the Negroni family, it has that bright aperitivo taste profile, while the Cocoa Puff infusion allows it to have a rich chocolate flavor that reminds drinkers of breakfast,” explains partner Jacques Bezuidenhout.
- 1 oz. Beefeater Gin
- 1 oz. Campari
- 1 oz. Cocoa Puff-infused Gran Lusso Vermouth (see Note)
- Dash chocolate salt bitters
- Orange peel, cut into small shapes (stars, hearts, diamonds, etc.) for garnish
Combine gin, Campari and vermouth in a mixing glass, add ice, and stir until chilled. Strain over fresh ice in an Old Fashioned glass and garnish with the orange shapes.
For the Cocoa Puff-infused vermouth:
Combine a bottle of Gran Lusso Vermouth with 2 cups of Cocoa Puffs. Let set for 1 hour or until desired flavor is achieved. Strain out solids.
Recipe courtesy of IVY Kitchen, Dallas, TX
When you’ve overindulged the evening before, this light cocktail will fix you right up. Its combination of delicate vanilla vodka, vitamin C-packed orange juice, and a jolt of caffeine from Red Bull will make you more than ready to face the day. “Great brunch cocktails are refreshing, easy to drink and – most importantly – get you started on your weekend,” notes bar manager Justyn Blevins
- 1 ½ oz. Vanilla vodka
- 2 oz. Fresh orange juice
- ½ oz. Simple syrup
- Splash of Red Bull
- Orange wedge, for garnish
Add all ingredients except garnish to a cocktail glass, add ice, and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a tall glass over fresh ice, and garnish with an orange wedge.
Recipe courtesy of David Burke Kitchen
This breakfast drink has the rejuvenating properties of ginger and lemon, and the soothing powers of honey and tea. Use black tea for a caffeine boost, or an herbal tea for a more natural beverage. And it easily goes from mocktail to cocktail with the addition of an ounce or two of gin or vodka.
- 1 oz. Ginger puree
- 1 oz. Lemon juice
- ½ oz. Honey syrup (equal parts honey and warm water stirred to combine)
- 2 oz. Iced tea
- Lemon wedge, for garnish
Add all ingredients except garnish to a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake to chill. Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice, and garnish with a lemon wedge.
SoHo Bloody Mary
Recipe courtesy of David Burke Kitchen
The savory secret to this sip lies in the addition of olive brine, Dijon mustard and beef bouillon to the housemade Bloody Mary mix. Feel free to riff on the garnish with other options including beef jerky, cornichons, mini dill pickles or slices of salume. “Bloody Marys are best made to order and with a homemade recipe rather than a sourced product, as long as there is balance among all the flavors layered within that cocktail,” says beverage director Jason Galang. “The garnishes are an added surprise.”
- 1 ½ oz. Svedka Vodka
- 2 oz. Bloody Mary Mix (see Note)
- Cocktail shrimp, for garnish
- Skewered lemon wedge and olive, for garnish
- Lime wheel, for garnish
Add the vodka and Bloody Mary mix to a mixing glass, add ice, and shake for 10 seconds. Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice, and garnish with the cocktail shrimp, skewered lemon wedge and olive, and lime wheel.
For the Bloody Mary mix:
- 1 large can Tomato juice
- 2 ½ oz. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 oz. Olive brine
- 2 oz. Dijon mustard
- 2 oz. Tabasco sauce
- 2 tbsp. Prepared horseradish
- 1 ½ oz. Beef bouillon
- 1 ½ oz. Lime juice
- 1 ½ tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning
- 1 ½ tbsp. Kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. Celery salt
Combine in a large pitcher and stir to mix well. Makes 2 ½ quarts.
Recipe courtesy of The Water Trough, Austin, TX
Sweet, smoky, spicy and sparkling. That pretty much sums up this rye-based drink from the Austin restaurant. Be sure to use real maple syrup, rather than maple-flavored syrup, whose sweet earthiness better plays off the whiskey and mezcal.
- 1 oz. Rye whiskey (Yellow Rose or other)
- ½ oz. Brown sugar simple syrup
- ½ oz. Maple syrup
- Mezcal, to wash glass
- 1 to 2 oz. chilled Sparkling apple cider
- 1 strip Candied bacon (see Note)
- 1 Cinnamon stick
Pour a small amount of mezcal in a rocks glass, swirl until the interior is coated, and pour out. Add the rye, brown sugar syrup and maple syrup to a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into the prepared glass over fresh ice, and top with sparkling cider. Garnish with the cinnamon stick and candied bacon, and serve with a short straw.
For the candied bacon:
Bring 8 oz. of water to a boil in a small pot, and then add 16 oz. sugar. Stir until dissolved and remove from the heat. On a small sheet pan, place 4 strips of applewood smoked bacon, and bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes (the bacon should be slightly charred – adjust the time and temperature as needed). Remove the bacon from the oven, dry with paper towels, and place in the freezer for 5 minutes. Dip the slices in the cooled simple syrup, let dry for a few minutes, and repeat once or twice to completely coat.
Tips and Trends With Breakfast Cocktails:
- Think about the menu. The best brunch drinks have bright flavors like citrus, peach and tomato to enhance weekend dishes, says Jason Galang, beverage director for David Burke Kitchen. Variations on gin cocktails with grapefruit, as well as those made with apricot, peach and nectarine purees, are also great for day drinking.
- Remember the time of day. “A great brunch cocktail makes you feel like it's meant to drink before noon,” says Morgan Zuch, bar manager at Datz. This is achieved using either hearty and filling ingredients to help a hangover or making the cocktail light and crisp to enjoy during the early day.
- Think beyond the typical Mimosa. Zuch suggests replacing the orange juice with other flavors like apple, pomegranate or cranberry, or pureed fresh fruit. She also says that pouring a sparkling rosé or even a light pilsner, orange wheat beer or cider instead of Champagne, Cava or Prosecco can make the drink a little less expected.
- Liven up the Bloody Mary. Swap out vodka for Scotch, or add beer to lighten up the thickness, says Zuch. And play with garnishes from bacon, peppers and cheese to pretzels, ribs and pickled items to make it even more fun.
- Consider the aperitivo. Jacques Bezuidenhout, partner at Wildhawk, says brunch cocktails are leaning towards this category, which offers bright flavors that get you ready for the meal ahead. Drinks like the Spritz “don’t hit you over the head, but yet awaken the palate for the long brunch ahead.”
Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.