The best cocktails to whip up for brunch

Although drinking booze in the morning was commonplace for much of history, today there are lamentably few situations where it's socially acceptable to drink before noon. There's layovers at the airport. There's tailgating events. But above all else, there's brunch — that magical weekend rite when conventional society is permitted — nay, encouraged — to guzzle as many bottomless mimosas as possible before the 3 p.m. cut off.

The weekend rite of boozy brunches has skyrocketed in popularity over the last decade or so. The brunch tradition began in the U.S. in Chicago and took a hard turn during prohibition, when brunchers discovered tomato and orange juice made the ideal disguise for vodka and other prohibited spirits. Fast-forward to present day: a golden age of booze and brunch, when establishments from New York City to San Francisco dole out all-you-can-drink-before-3 p.m.-or-you puke-whichever-comes-first-bloody-marys-and-mimosas and craft inventive breakfast drink menus for long lines of credit card-wielding diners.  

You can skip the lines and high prices but keep the breakfast booze flowing by throwing your own alcohol-infused brunch. To kick off your early-morning weekend revelry, here are some of the best brunch cocktails to whip up.

Bloody Mary Verde

The quintessential brunch staple, the bloody mary has been easing morning afters since the prohibition era. The bloody mary's popularity as a brunch drink may be partly influenced by its hangover healing powers. The hearty drink helps you revamp with its hefty levels of hydrating electrolytes and vitamin C, along on with vodka and electrifying spices. Not to mention, the bloody mary is scientifically proven to be delicious — tomatoes are high in glutamic acid, the compound that produces the irresistible uamini flavor sensation.  

If you're a bloody mary swillin', brunch fanatic, you may think you've seen them all. Bacon bloody marys, seafood bloody marys — but have you ever seen a bloody mary that was green? That's the premise of the bloody mary verde, a spin of a traditional bloody that uses fresh tomatillos, green tomatoes, chilis, and cilantro, in lieu of red tomatoes and hot sauce.

To craft this bloody green brunch monster, blend up a base of husked, trimmed, and quartered tomatillos with two chopped cucumbers, two peeled and chopped garlic cloves, a halved and seeded jalapeno, two tablespoons of lime, and a teaspoon of kosher salt until smooth.

Once you have the base, you can add in vodka, horseradish, green hot sauce, and celery seed to taste. Garnish with goodies like a smoked sea salt rim, shrimp, scallions, and tortilla chips.

Frozen mimosa

For as long as people have had the luxury of drinking at brunch and (free time to argue about dumb stuff), the mimosa-bloody mary debate has raged on. Whichever camp you fall in, you can't deny the mimosa has cemented itself into the brunch menu for good. At modern brunch establishments, it's not uncommon to behold all-you-can-drink mimosa bars and almost-taller-than-you mimosa tubes.

The recipe for a basic mimosa is simple: pour three parts champagne, add one part orange juice, and stir. But since the champagne cocktail emerged in the U.S. way back in the 1960s, drinkers and mixologists have experimented with all crazy variations, mixing champagne with everything from ginger beer to pear nectar and thyme.

But of all the mimosa reincarnations, the frozen mimosa wins points for being the frostiest, most refreshing, and impressive looking. Despite its elegant appearance, the frozen mimosa is a breeze to prepare. Start by freezing cubes of orange juice overnight, then blend the cubes into the champagne until the texture is frosty. Pour into flute glasses and garnish with orange slices.

Beccaccino cold brew

Following the explosion of cold brew coffee came the predictable rise of cold brew cocktails. Basing drinks with the well-balanced coffee sets the stage for an incredible cocktail, amplifying nuanced flavors and throwing in a jolt of caffeine.

The acidity of the cold brew complements the nuttiness of Brandy de Jerez, as famed bartender Murray Stenson discovered. It was this mixologist who revived the Beccaccino cold brew cocktail in 2012, long before the cold brew revolution had truly taken off — but well after the espresso cocktails of the 1980s.

The cocktail begins with a base of cold brew, either store-bought or homemade. For the homemade variety, seal ground coffee with water in a container. Let the concoction sit for 12 to 16 hours at room temperature before straining.

Once you have your cold brew, combine the coffee with an ounce of Brandy Jerez and a half ounce of Benedectine, Irish Mist Liqueur, and Luxardo Amaretto. Stir for about 10 seconds and then pour into a wine glass over ice. Finish the caffeine-infused concoction with fresh whipped cream.

Mango michelada

Ah, the michela. Has there ever been a drink so versatile, so baffling, or tan rico?  

The word michelada combines the Spanish slang for beer (chela) with the word for cold (helada) and mine (mi). The drink originated in Mexico, where there are more variations on the drink than there are brands of cereal. Regardless of the breed, micheladas always start with two fundamental ingredients: lime and beer. From there, you can add about a quarter cup of tomato juice, splash of clam juice, drop of Maggi (a kind of Mexican soy sauce), drop of Worcestershire sauce, and — of course — hot sauce to taste. For a final flare, add a salt, chili powder, chamoy, or Tajin rim.

Over the years, countless michelada varieties have joined the scene. Order a michelada in New York City, and you might receive a Japanese-inspired michelada with Sapporo beer with sambal and tonkatsu. Head to San Francisco, and you might be able to land yourself a Sudwerk Pilsner michelada with pickled jalapeno. At old-school Mexican restaurants, you can even discover seafood-inspired micheladas garnished with oysters and shrimp.

Our mango michelada combines spiciness and sweetness. Instead of the tomato juice mixture, add around a quarter cup of mango juice to the beer and lime base. Add a sprinkle of hot sauce before serving it in a glass with a chili-salt rim!

Manmosa

Are you a man who craves a refreshing mimosa at brunch, but fears his masculinity will be questioned for drinking a bubbly beverage in a delicate flute glass? Boy, do we have the drink for you.

Much like it's dainty, pretty, constantly shopping female alter ego, the manmosa is based on orange juice and guzzled at brunch. The difference is that instead of just champagne, the manmosa is often served with a full pint of beer — perhaps a Belgian or a wheat — and sometimes even a shot of vodka for an additional touch of masculinity. Instead of flute glasses, manmosas are often served in heavy, towering mugs that only the stronger man could muster the power to lift. Like the mimosa, manmosas can be served with an alternative juice to orange, such as grapefruit, cranberry, or a third manly juice. The amount of juice you choose to dilute your drink down with depends on your tastes, and — of course — your manliness.

Gender politics aside, manmosas can be refreshing brunch choice whether you are a man, woman, a bear dressed as a human, ect. Just be forewarned: one serving of these hefty beverages could leave you quite tipsy before brunch is through.

Roasted plum Bellini

Another sparkling brunch beverage, the Bellini was invented in the late 1940s by mixologist Giuseppe Cipriani. Cipriana was the founder of Venezia's famous Harry's Bar, where Humphrey Bogart, Ernest Hemingway, and Truman Capote allegedly used to haunt. According to the legend, Cipriana was inspired by the sunsets in paintings of 15th century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini. The original recipe include fresh white peach puree and sparkling wine, served in a flute glass.

As these things go, the recipe has been tweaked and revisited over the ages. Cipariana may have favored white peaches, but many seasonal fruits will do: raspberry, passion fruit, rhubarb, and so on.

Our favorite is the super classy-sounding-but-secretly-easy-to-make roasted plum bellini. To cobble this delectable, fruit-infused drink together for your next brunch, start by baking sliced plums drizzled in brown sugar in the oven until soft. Puree the softened plums without pits in a blender before allowing to cool. Drop dollops of plum puree into glasses before topping with sparkling wine. Stir gently before serving.

Mezcal sunset

The tequila sunrise is an appropriate anytime drink: brunch time, pre-dinner cocktail time, post-dinner cocktail time, post-workout celebration cocktail time, post-you just scored a total deal on bulk Cereal at Costco time, post-winning a game of Candy Crush time, etc. 

The inaptly named mezcal sunset, on the other hand, lends itself perfectly to brunch (though of course you may sip it at any appropriate situation). While the classic tequila sunrise cocktail calls for tequila and grenadine, the mezcal sunset calls for tequila's smoky agave-based sister and a homemade blend of pomegranate with sugar.

To whip up the mezcal sunset, simmer equal amounts pomegranate and sugar over medium-high heat until it is dissolved and reduced, then refrigerate. As you wait for the mixture to cool, pour one part mezcal, two parts orange juice, and one part dry sparkling white wine into a glass over ice. Finish it off with a dollop of pomegranate syrup.

Mozzarella bloody mary shooters

As noted previosuly, bloody marys have taken many forms over the years. Mozzarella bloody mary shooters happened to take what is perhaps the most adorable of the bloody's many forms of all. Picture tiny bloody marys (the size you might serve to dolls if they were holding a make-believe brunch) with the tiniest celery leave garnishes. Now imagine these itsy-bitsy bloody marys splashing everywhere as you dunk a chubby mozzarella stick in there. Pretty darn cute right?

The recipe for these little tykes starts with your basic bloody mary mix: tomato juice, vodka, worcestershire, hot sauce, horseradish, and lemon juice. But instead of distributing your mix among tall glasses, you dribble the bloody mary base into shot glasses — for extra points, pre-rim these bad boys with a salt or chili powder rim. Place a celery leaf in each one, then top it off with the grand finale: a mozzarella stick, either store-bought or homemade. Just be careful to lay the mozzarella sticks over the glass and not inside, or they'll end up all soggy before you get a chance to dunk. 

Pomegranate royale

The kir royale is another one of those cocktails born to make brunches more bubbly. Aside from being delicious and alcoholic, the kir royale is wonderfully simple to make. Inspired by the traditional French Kir cocktail, the Kir Royale calls for champagne and creme de cassis, where the traditional Kir uses sparkling wine. The pomegranate royale gives a fruity, modern spin to this sophisticated beverage. The warm red color and dancing pomegranate seed baubles make it particularly appropropriate for holiday brunches.

Preparing for this colorful alcoholic concoction calls for opening and un-seeding a pomegranate, a step that — for the uninitiated — may be trickier than making the cocktail itself. The best way to open a pomegranate is to score a small slit in its skin with a knife, then crack the fruit open with your hands. Hold the pomegranate over a bowl of water, then break it apart with your hands. As you break the fruit into pieces, seeds should fall into the bowl below.

To stir up the pomegranate royale, place about five to seven pomegranate seeds in a champagne flute. Add an ounce of pomegranate liqueur. Finally, top it all off with four ounces of champagne. If you prefer, a cava, prosecco, or any dry sparkling wine will do as a substitute for champagne.    

Frozen Irish coffee

The Irish coffee is a beloved brunch, after-dinner, before-dinner, and while-reading-Harry Potter drink the world over. It hails from Foynes, a small town in West Ireland. As the story goes, the little town was an airbase for Flying Boats between the U.S. and Europe that regularly received political figures and Hollywood stars. Because of the Foynes' notoriously terrible weather, long layovers were common. To warm up the important, cranky guests during stays, the airport restaurant would serve hot coffee with Irish whiskey, brown sugar, and whipped cream.

On frosty, bleak brunch days, by all means — treat your guests to an traditional steaming Irish coffee. But on sweltering, summer days, we suggest this frozen twist.

To make a frozen ice coffee, start by cooling and freezing regular coffee into an ice cube tray. In another ice cube tray, freeze sweetened cream. To make each serving, blend four cubes of the frozen coffee with about an ounce of whiskey until the concoction is foamy. Next, add two cubes of frozen cream and about half a chocolate bar, then blend again. To finish it all off, add a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle on chocolate shavings. Garnish with a stick of cinnamon.

Flutterby Lassi

A popular drink in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, the lassi typically calls for yogurt, milk, sugar, and perhaps mango. But as with many drinks, the lassi can be elevated to a whole new level when alcohol is added.

The Flutterby lassi is a lesser known brunch drink — one that will impress your guests with its complex combination of cucumber and dill flavors. The drink is usually made with absinthe, but you can swap that out for pastis if you prefer.

To craft the Flutterby lassi, muddle sprigs of dill with sliced cucumber in a cocktail shaker. Add ice before pouring in an ounce of absinthe or pastis, lime juice, and simple syrup. Finally, drizzle in a quarter cup of plain yogurt. After sealing the shaker, give it a good, thorough shake for about 30 seconds before straining into a tumbler.

Garnish with a rolled up strip of cucumber peel and sprig of dill, and serve immediately.

Bloody Roman

This Roman emperor of a drink was dreamed up by celebrity chef Chris Cosentino, who famously called it, "more than a drink… a first course all by itself." Like many brunch drinks, the spicy, beer-based beverage is a powerful hangover cure. But be warned! It's use of fiery peppers, fish sauce, and oysters make it not for the faint-hearted bruncher.

To begin, you'll need to prepare a Roman mix. Start with a quality, unseasoned tomato juice and add a tablespoon of chopped, salt-packed capers, two red fresno chiles, a shallot, two tablespoons of chopped pickled peppers, two tablespoons of fish sauce, one tablespoon of ground aleppo pepper, and one teaspoon of Cabernet vinegar (phew!). Stir well, and season with salt, pepper, and parsley to taste.

Once you have the base, the rest of the Bloody Roman is a breeze. Place two olives in a pint glass, then pour in your favorite beer. Top off the glass with the Roman mix. Finally, place two shucked oysters (preferably ones that have been reserved in liquor) in each glass and garnish with olive and a serrano chile.