PHOTOS BY MICHAEL PIAZZA / STYLED BY EMMET KELTY
We are all familiar with the ins-and-outs of making brunch plans with friends: where should we go? Who’ll make the reservation? How many are we? Is Kate going to be on time? Is Mark still asleep? Who’ll send the text message to make sure the whole clan is still on board? And please tell me the restaurant has Mimosas and Bloodies!
I propose a change of plans, and instead of having brunch with friends in restaurants, let’s bring brunch home. We’ll avoid many of the hard-to-deal with—and frankly annoying— variables of brunching out, but it does take a little planning—especially for the cocktails!
There are four keys to making great brunch drinks, and most of them aren’t that hard:
CONSIDER THE CLASSICS AND UPDATE!
There is a reason every brunch restaurant that has a license to serve alcohol has some form of Bloody Mary and a Mimosa on the menu. They are delicious, appealing to many different drinkers and drinking moods. For instance, some mornings I would rather drink my brunch (as in a well-garnished Bloody Mary) than eat it. But on others, I’d like something easy, less strong, and reminiscent of an everyday refresher, like orange juice. With that said, small changes to these drinks can create a significant flourish for your guests, like using dark rum instead of vodka for your classic Bloody Mary (try Twenty Boat Rum from South Hollow Spirits in Truro, but note that it is higher in alcohol than vodka, so consider only using one ounce). Your Mimosa can be updated with blood orange juice (when available), and a classic Bellini can feature the best fruit you found at the farm stand on Saturday afternoon (strawberries, blueberries, peaches, nectarines, even rhubarb).
LOW ALCOHOL = BETTER
It is only 1pm after all, and nobody wants to be the drunk guy at the party in the middle of the afternoon. This is why drinks like a Pimm’s Cup or an Italian Greyhound (a real bartender favorite) come into play. Stick to drinks with sparkling wine and vermouth, both great low-alcohol options, and beer-based cocktails.
PUNCH VS. INDIVIDUAL SERVING
Don’t forget that you want to enjoy your friends’ company! Though you may enjoy spending time behind the bar, if you decide to make cocktails for brunch you probably don’t want to be back there the whole time. Instead of making individual drinks for each guest, make big batches beforehand. This is the brilliance of a pitcher of Bloody Marys, which can be applied to most of the drinks listed below. Do the prep work in advance, and invest your saved time in making a cool garnish instead (edible flowers, ice molds etc).
ALWAYS OFFER SOMETHING NON-ALCOHOLIC
Similar to the low-alcohol idea, I always suggest offering something fun and non-alcoholic at your party. Whether it is for your friends’ kids or the teetotalers in the group, make sure to have something on hand for these guests as well. Often, you can use some of the non-alcoholic ingredients for your other drinks, so it won’t add a ton of extra work.
Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli honed his craft under Jackson Cannon at Eastern Standard & Drinks where he learned the art of mixology, igniting a special passion for the cultural and historical significance of the cocktail. After serving as opening bar manager at Craigie on Main, he went on to open Island Creek Oyster Bar as General Manager. When he's not developing seasonal cocktail recipes for Edible Boston or consulting local restaurants, Tom can be found tending bar at Green Street Grill in Central Square.