This month is National Better Breakfast month and we though it'd be fitting to post some popular cocktails to welcome on brunch. Enjoy.
It seems odd to us now, a sure sign of heartbreak or alcoholism in full bloom, but the morning cocktail -- that eye-opening, boozy breakfast restorative -- was once as common as a tumbler of orange juice. And better for you, too, or so went the wisdom of the day. As cocktail historian (and extreme facial hair fan) Dave Wondrich details in his book Imbibe!, the cocktail itself evolved from an 18th-century American habit of quaffing bitters (alcoholic herbal cure-alls) in the morning. A good "cock-tail" cleared the head and settled the sour stomach. Translation: hair of the dog that bit you. Today, we have Advil. More’s the pity.
The cocktails listed here should be ordered before noon (although we’ll give you an extension to 3 p.m. if you slept in). For reasons of tradition, taste or both, don’t make a fool of yourself by ordering one of these at night; it’d be like ordering a bowl of granola for dinner. Well, more or less.
5. Ramos Gin Fizz
Like gumbo and gratuitous boob flashing, the exquisite Ramos Gin Fizz is one of New Orleans’ gifts to the world. Henry Ramos invented the frothy sensation at his Imperial Cabinet Saloon, in the 1880s. Huey Long couldn’t live without them, and brought a bartender to New York to teach the Yankee boys to make his drink proper. During the Carnival of 1915, to meet demand, Ramos put 32 “shaker boys” behind the bar. There’s a lot of ingredients involved, and a Jerry Lee Lewis amount of shaking (12 minutes was the old standard). In other words: Don’t order six of them during a busy brunch, and tip well.
1 ½ oz Bluecoat gin (or gin of your choice)
1 egg white
½ oz fresh lemon juice
½ oz fresh lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
2 drops of orange flower water
2 oz cream
In a mixing glass, combine egg, juices, flower water, simple syrup, and cream. Shake without ice to emulsify the egg. Add gin and ice. Shake again, vigorously. Strain into a Collins glass (no ice) and top with soda water. Whip gently with straw or bar spoon to encourage the foam.
Variation: add two drops of vanilla extract
4. Corpse Reviver No. 2
Toby Maloney (mixologist and partner at the Violet Hour in Chicago and The Patterson House in Nashville) calls this the original “morning-after” remedy. “It’s my favorite way to get over a hangover,” he says. “It’s a f*cking phenomenal drink.” But beware, you Lazarus hopefuls. As barman Harry Craddock, who invented this delicious eye-opener at the Savoy Hotel in London, famously said: “Four taken in quick succession will unrevive the corpse again.”
1 ½ oz Plymouth gin (or London gin of your choice)
¾ oz Lillet Blonde
¾ oz Orange Curacao
¾ oz Fresh lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in mixing glass. Add ice. Shake and strain into a coupe glass rinsed with absinthe.
3. Morning Glory Fizz
In Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual, published in 1888, you’ll read that this bold Scotch breakfast curative is “a grand picker-upper and will give a good appetite and quiet the nerves.” Nearly forgotten outside of establishments dedicated to the fine old art of the cocktail, this is an order likely to earn you a blank stare from a barkeep. But good Scotch cocktails are hard to come by, and this is one of them. Our solution: make one at home, brunch preparty-style.
1 ½ oz Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch (or blended Scotch of your choice)
1 egg white
½ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup (or spoon of sugar)
Rinse of Absinthe or Pastis
In a mixing glass, combine juices, simple syrup and egg white. Shake without ice to emulsify the egg. Add Ballantine’s and ice; shake vigorously. Strain into and Old-Fashioned glass (no ice) rinsed with absinthe. Run the twist around the rim of the glass; drop it in.
Variation: Substitute Ballantine’s for Talisker 10 Year Old (or smoky single malt of your choice)
In England, they call it a Buck’s Fizz. In America, it’s soccer, and our kids play it until they can handle real sports, OK? Wait. That’s football. Stateside, we call this gentle, bubbly drink a Mimosa, after the French, who made their version at the Paris Ritz in the ‘20s, a couple years after Londoners started draining Buck’s Fizzes (poured at Buck’s Club). Now favored most heavily during that brunchy-est of brunches held on Mother’s Day, Mimosas are the Julie Andrews of morning drinks: bright, sweet, with a touch of sass. And practically bartender-proof. Quality ingredients make a world of difference with this one.
2 oz Brut Champagne
4 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
In a champagne flute, pour the champagne, and add the orange juice.
Variation: Add one teaspoon of Grand Marnier, one dash of orange bitters.
1. Bloody Mary
The Bloody Mary’s origins, murky as tomato juice and Worcestershire, probably go back to French barman Fernand Petiot, who (allegedly) brought the recipe to the St. Regis Hotel from Harry’s New York Bar, in Paris, in the 1920s. The story behind the name is even cloudier. (Is it a tribute to Mary, Queen of Scots? A waitress? An actress?) There are as many incarnations of the drink as bartenders, all of whom insist that theirs is the best -- and there are many so polluted with horseradish as to resemble something you might dunk a shrimp into. But done right, it’s still the spiciest, zippy-est king -- Queen, rather -- of hangover remedies.
1 ½ oz Ketel One vodka (or vodka of your choice)
3 dashes Worcestershire
4 dashes Tabasco
Pinch of celery salt
Pinch of ground black pepper
¼ oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 oz tomato juice
Lemon wedge and celery stalk for garnish
Optional: 1 tsp horseradish
Optional: coat the rim of the glass with Old Bay seasoning.
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice. Shake well. Strain
over ice in a Collins glass. Garnish with the lemon wedge and celery stalk.
Variation: Substitute the Ketel for Beefeater (or gin of your choice).
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