Brunch is not exactly a breakfast without a lot of drinks: coffee, water, juice and, if you drink alcohol on this day, a cocktail. An unlimited number of mimosas and heavily decorated “Bloody Mary” are long-standing cases, but you certainly don’t need to limit yourself to them.
Modern southern choices tend to range from alcoholic beverages to beverages with less alcohol (or alcohol) that go well with food. “People want good quality cocktails to go well with quality food,” said Stacy Swenson, director of the Mattos Hospitality Bar in New York City, which includes Lodi, Estella and Altro Paradiso.
Designed for absorption along with small pieces, often bitter, light aperitifs – this is a fantastic foil for any short stack, Benedict or scramble.
“Bianco or dry vermouth with soda or tonic as the first cocktail of the day is very reasonable,” Swenson said. “If you’re a fan of pancakes or waffles, then Bellini with fresh fruit is a really good option.” She also recommends sparkling French 75 with citrus or the same effervescent, most perfect of the aperitif: syringe.
If mimosa is out of the question, Swenson recommends perfecting the classic combination of orange juice and prosecco by adding orange bitters or orange liqueur. Or make another drink based on orange juice – Garibaldi. Created on the basis of a sparkling Italian blend of red bitter liqueur (usually Campari) and fresh juice, it is refreshing and sweet-bitter, and is perfect for crossing the line between a late morning drink and an afternoon cocktail.
Alternatively, add a serving of café de olla, a sweet Mexican coffee with spices that is traditionally brewed in an olle or clay pot. A drink impregnated with cinnamon and other flavors such as cloves and orange peel, richly sweetened pylonchilo, unrefined cane sugar with a deep, molasses aroma.
“It’s like chewing a cake; it must be very sweet, ”said Marcela Valladolid, chef, author and founder of the food and lifestyle brand Casa Marcela. If you can’t find Piloncillo, Valladolid suggests mixing brown sugar with a little molasses to bring the caramelized taste of Piloncillo closer. Serve café de olla as is, or turn it into a cocktail during a brunch with an ounce of tequila repo or whiskey.
If you prefer iced coffee, Swenson says you can substitute coconut water for regular American water with ice (for nutty and natural sweets) and add an ounce or two of rum or lobster.
Whatever drink you choose to balance on an already lunch-filled table, make it something worthy of a place and you’ll tend to drink between snacks before and even after sunset.
GaribaldiOutput: 1 drink
Named after Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi, who played a leading role in the unification of Italy, the classic recipe for this two-ingredient drink combines Campari from northern Italy and fresh orange juice reminiscent of Sicily in the south. This modern version has orange slides and a pinch of salt, as well as an ounce of grapefruit juice. (If you want to skip the grapefruit, you can also use 5 full ounces of orange juice.) Whether you’re doing a classic or a modern iteration, the key to the best Garibaldi is very fresh, very frothy citrus juice. To do this you will need freshly squeezed citrus and a firm, long dry (no ice) shake, or if you wish you can whisk the juice in a blender for a few seconds to aerate before adding to the glass.
1 1/2 ounces of red bitter liqueur, such as Campari, Cappelletti or Contratto Bitter
3 to 4 strokes of orange bitters
4 ounces of fresh orange juice
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
Orange or grapefruit slice or cola, for serving
1. Fill a Collins or Highball glass with ice, add red bitter liqueur and bitters.
2. In a shaker without ice add orange and grapefruit juice, salt. Cover and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Strain the cocktail into a glass and garnish with a slice of orange or grapefruit.
Café de OllaTotal time: 20 minutes
Café de Olla, which is produced in batches and served hot, sweet and fragrant with cinnamon and other spices, is traditionally cooked in olla de barro, a tall clay pot. When preparing Café de Olla, choose quality dark-roasted coffee and, if possible, grind it fresh. Second, look for piloncillo – raw, unrefined cane sugar, named after the shape form traditionally used to make it – for a richer, deeper and caramelized taste. If you don’t have access to piloncillo, use dark brown sugar and add half to a full teaspoon of molasses. Finally, make sure the liquid never boils, which can ignite the coffee and make the final drink sour. Serve as is or put on the table a bottle of tequila, rum, whiskey, brandy or lobster and give to those who drink, add the selected alcohol to taste. If you have extra Café de Olla, store it in a covered container in the refrigerator and reheat or serve with ice.
4 ounces piloncillo (or use a meager 1/2 cup dark brown sugar plus 1/2 teaspoon molasses)
2 small cinnamon sticks, preferably Mexican cinnamon
1/2 cup freshly ground (medium grind) dark roasted coffee
2 (3 inches) orange peel (optional)
Alcohol of your choice (rum, bourbon or rye whiskey, cognac or lobster), optional
1. In a small olla de baro or medium pot add pylonchilo, 6 cups water, cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise if used. Put on medium heat and bring to a very slow boil, stirring often, until Piloncillo is completely dissolved. Do not allow the liquid to boil. Continue to cook on medium low for another 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the coffee grounds and orange peel if using. Cover and leave for 6-8 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve or coffee filter into a large heat-resistant decanter or other pot.
2. Add 1 to 1 1/2 ounces of alcohol of your choice, if you use, in a heat-resistant mug or glass of 6 ounces and pour on top of 4 to 5 ounces of Café de Olla; serve hot.