I recently enjoyed a brunch out with a couple friends in my old college town, and several things struck me. Firstly, that I had not been out for brunch in a good while (though Em and I frequently host friends). Secondly, that when the check showed up I felt the experience was mostly equal to the price, and I reflected on how infrequently this is the case. And thirdly, that this had not been a drinking brunch — and that had made it better.
This last part in particular belies a sad state of affairs for what should be a marvelous and celebratory institution: the weekend brunch. When even I think that the brunch experience is improved by abstaining from drink, it should raise some eyebrows, yet I cannot deny that there is a sort of Boozy Brunch Industrial Complex ruining the good name of leisurely afternoon gluttony. Its worst offenders are those purveyors of the “bottomless brunch” (which means something else entirely in my kitchen), and the tools of their transgressions are The Bloody Mary and The Mimosa.
The problem is decidedly not that these are bad drinks in and of themselves, but that even the most venerable of establishments rarely bothers to make a good version of either. Moreover, the voluminous application of these poor, innocent cocktails is wholly off the mark. Who really wants a bottomless Bloody Mary? I mean, honestly, even a good one? So rich, so powerfully flavored — by number three, a vodka-seawater sounds more appetizing, especially next to the salty, red sludge getting passed off for a Bloody these days. And as far as your stomach and your insulin levels are concerned, by the time you’ve finished with those Mimosas you might as well have shotgunned a pint of jelly beans and chased it with a shot of battery acid.
I have decided to take a stand for brunch drinks.
Naturally, we will cover some alternatives in this column in the following weeks and months for those times you are entertaining in your own home. Otherwise, when I’m out for boozy brunch, I’ll be drinking beer. If you’re hosting a brunch this weekend, take a look back at Succo Coretto, or even the Daiquiri — both excellent summertime drinks, and extra charming in the morning. And let us never — ever! — forget the usefulness of [spirit] and soda after Round 2. Less effort, less cost, less hangover. Sometimes it pays not to overthink it.