Put Aside the Mimosa, Order a Brunch Cocktail

Spring has sprung, and restaurants and cafés are swinging open their doors and setting up tables on the sidewalk for hungry brunch-goers. Before you ambitiously opt for (maybe bottomless) mimosas, take the time to read over the cocktail menu. Bartenders are offering light, refreshing and herbaceous libations to celebrate the upswing in warm weather. Try the Don’t Believe the Florist featuring Fernet Branca, gin, yuzu and maple water debuting on Earth Day at NYC’s Jams restaurant; or the Hot Dude at Franchettis in Sonoma County wine country, featuring Soju vodka, locally roasted Taylor Maid coffee,  vanilla and nutmeg. How's that for a start to your morning?

And because we’re convinced you shouldn’t dilute perfectly good Champagne with orange juice, we asked our Wine Advocate reviewers to give us their favorite brunch sippers. Here’s what you should be ordering to go with your eggs Benedict: 

“I like a good Bramble,” says Neal Martin of the gin-based classic cocktail invented in London. “I drink it at The Long Bar in Guildford, usually towards the end of writing a report and I've lost the will to live and need to drown my sorrows in booze, but preferably not wine because I've been writing about it all day.”

“Now that the outside temps are getting warmer, I’m a huge fan of Sgroppino—a blend of fresh lemon sorbet, Prosecco and Vodka, garnished with a mint leaf,” adds Monica Larner. “Because it’s relatively low in alcohol and involves fresh lemon sorbet, the cocktail is cooling, crisp and acidic. You can taste a touch of spicy effervescence from the Prosecco. I love it because it resets your palate to zero; it’s a great transition from one dish to the next.” Should you find yourself in Italy, Sgroppino is found in most good restaurants. “The drink is born in the Veneto—specifically Venice—as that’s where Prosecco is made,” she continues. “You can also get different flavors and versions made in Sicily with almond milk sorbet, blood orange sorbet or espresso sorbet. These are like Sicilian blended snow cones with a touch of Vodka.” 

Jeb Dunnuck keeps it simple: “I normally go with straight Bourbon. For Brunch, you certainly don’t want any cask or barrel strength and I’d stick with anything less than 100 proof… the single barrel from Elmer T. Lee is great with everything (and a great value, generally). Other good Bourbons that won’t break the bank are Colonel E.H. Taylor, Elijah Craig (the 12 year), Four Roses (Small Batch or single barrels) and Eagle Rare. We have a lot of great Bourbon bars out here in Boulder—West End Tavern and Japango have great selections at good prices.”

“I prefer to be drinking Champagne when others are ordering cocktails,” says Stephan Reinhardt. And Mark Squires feels the same: “If I’m drinking at brunch, it has to be light, like Moschofilero or Riesling. A nice, crisp and elegant sparkler wouldn’t hurt either. A big bargain from my upcoming June report will be the Quinta do Encontro Bruto Classico ($13).”

Happy brunching!

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