Brunch without booze is like waffles without syrup. You could do it, but it’s just not quite the same. From bloody marys to mimosas, brunch cocktails can often be the best part of the meal, and really, you shouldn’t have to rely on a bartender to supply you with the perfect brunch beverage. There are some classic brunch cocktails every adult should know how to mix up, because sometimes you just want to enjoy a drink in the mid-morning without having to put on real pants. With this knowledge, you can even host a boozy brunch of your own if you’re really into adulting.
Though it might seem intimidating to master these recipes, they’re not that complicated once you’ve rounded up all the ingredients. And once you learn the basics of these drinks, you can start to customize the recipes to your liking, by making the drinks a little stronger or sweeter or spicier, or swapping out a somewhat basic ingredient for something a bit more gourmet.
Even if, after reading these recipes, you decide that making these classic brunch beverages requires too much effort, as an adult human who drinks, it’s still good to know what goes into your favorite cocktails. You’re sipping on them every weekend, after all. So here are the nine brunch cocktails that every adult should know how to make.
A classic mimosa is equal parts orange juice and sparkling wine or Champagne. You can also add some triple sec or Grand Marnier for a slightly more complex drink.
A bellini is similar to a mimosa, in that it contains fruit and sparkling wine, but it’s more complicated than that. A true bellini, which originated at Harry’s Bar in Venice, combines one part peach purée to two parts prosecco. To prepare properly, pour the peach purée into a champagne flute then follow with chilled prosecco.
Stronger than a simple glass of Champagne without tasting too alcoholic, a French 75 combines simple syrup and lemon juice with one part gin and two parts Champagne. The result is a light, slightly sweet brunch cocktail that’ll pair perfectly with even the heaviest dishes.
Making a screwdriver is as simple as pouring a shot of vodka into a six-ounce glass of orange juice, but you can make your screwdriver a bit more gourmet by using fresh-squeezed juice or even blood orange juice.
Sweet tea is a Southern staple, and an ideal brunch beverage, especially on a hot, summer day. You can always enjoy the non-alcoholic version, which should be strong and almost syrupy, or add a little Southern Comfort to make it boozy.
The basic ingredients for sangria are straightforward: red wine and fruit. But there is some debate about what else to add for the perfect pitcher. Brandy, some sparkling water, and a bit of triple sec are safe bets. If you prepare your sangria the night before, all the flavors of the fruit can thoroughly mix with the wine overnight.
The St. Regis Hotel in New York City claims to be the home of the bloody mary, where it was perfected by a bartender in 1934, and—as he established—a proper bloody mary is so much more than tomato juice and vodka. There’s Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, and Tabasco sauce, to taste.
The michelada is a Mexican beer-based cocktail that, when you hear the list of ingredients, sounds kind of gross. Like a bloody mary, a michelada has Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, but instead of tomato juice, there’s Clamato. There’s also some Maggi seasoning, a soy sauce-like cult condiment, lime, and a pale lager. But through some sort of alchemy, these disparate ingredients make a well-balanced beverage that you can finish in a single swig.
The base of an Irish coffee is simply hot coffee with Irish whiskey. What makes it even better is the addition of a tablespoon of brown sugar and a topping of lightly whipped heavy cream.