3 elevated brunch cocktails perfect for Spring

Ernest Hemingway once wrote that “Paris is a moveable feast.” I think he might have meant “transportable,” because a moveable feast changes days but not location, whereas a transportable feast goes wherever you do. But what do I know?

Easter, coming up on Sunday, is one of the biggest of these so-called “moveable feasts.” It also has come to signify the kickoff for the brunch season.

Adding a whole egg adds richness to a Ramos Fizz. (Ross Taylor/The Virginian-Pilot)
Adding a whole egg adds richness to a Ramos Fizz.

And brunch is really just a fancy way of saying, “I want an alcoholic drink with my breakfast.” We are not here to judge — all things in moderation — so it is with that idea in mind that we offer up the “Trinity” of brunch cocktails — the Bloody Mary, the Mimosa and the Ramos Fizz — all localized and each made “better” by the addition of one or two “new-ish” ingredients. It is the beginning of spring after all, and spring is all about new beginnings and new things. Hemingway also wrote: “When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.” And if that doesn’t scream Northern California — this year in particular — I don’t know what does.

Jeff Burkhart is the author of “Twenty Years Behind Bars: The Spirited Adventures of a Real Bartender, Vol. I and II,” the host of the Barfly Podcast on iTunes (as seen in the NY Times) and an award-winning bartender at a local restaurant. Follow him at jeffburkhart.net and contact him at [email protected]


A Lenten-ending Ramos Fizz

2 ounces Alamere Spirits London Dry Gin

2 ounces unsweetened organic coconut cream (not Coco Lopez)

½ ounce Cointreau (or other good-quality clear triple sec)

½ ounce fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice

1 whole egg

1 orange zest

Fresh grated nutmeg

Combine the gin, cream, Cointreau, lemon juice and whole egg in a shaker glass with ice. Shake until foamy. Strain into a chilled coupe glass, being sure to pile up foam on top. Garnish with orange zest and top with grated nutmeg.

Note: Whole eggs are not a new idea (see Golden Fizz) but the richness of the yolk adds a great weight to this fluffy drink. Swapping out the milk cream for coconut cream also adds richness and eliminates any possible curdling, which can happen when combining citrus and milk. Orange flower water (another classic ingredient) is neither very tasty nor readily available. Triple sec, with its high sugar content, not only adds sweetness but also a delicate orangey flavor. The spice nutmeg contains myristicin, a hallucinogenic toxin that taken in large doses can cause death; always use in moderation.

Eostre Mimosa

4 ounces Schug Winery 2019 sparkling rosé

2 ounces fresh-squeezed tangerine juice

¼ ounce Hanson of Sonoma organic mandarin vodka

1 tangerine zest

Combine the first three ingredients in a mixing glass and stir once to combine. Allow foam to subside and transfer to a chilled champagne flute. Garnish with zest. By combining ingredients in a separate glass first, you can eliminate the explosive citrus juice foam that happens when you combine sparkling wine with fresh citrus juice.

Note: Mimosas are named for the color of mimosa blossoms. Tangerine juice adds a wonderful tartness to this drink and the mandarin vodka complements that nicely. This version does have a slightly different color, but its tart, fresh flavor more than makes up for the color variation.

Umami Snapper

2 ounces Sausalito Liquor Co. Marin Coastal Gin

3 ounces organic tomato juice

1 dash Worcestershire sauce (about a 1/8 teaspoon)

1 dash hoisin sauce

1 dash Sol Food Pique hot sauce

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 dash good-quality Thai/Vietnamese fish sauce

King Floyd’s Black Lava salt for rimming

Partially rim a pint glass with the black lava salt by wetting the rim with the fleshy side of a piece of citrus and then dabbing the glass into salt before filling with ice. In a separate mixing glass, combine the first seven ingredients and stir. When thoroughly combined pour mixture into rimmed glass.

Note: The Red Snapper is a later gin version of the Bloody Mary. The Bloody Caesar is a Bloody Mary made with Clamato juice. This take combines the best elements of those two: the aromatics of the gin and the umami of the fish sauce (fish sauce doesn’t actually taste like fish, just like Clamato doesn’t actually taste like clam). The result is a testament to that elusive fifth taste: umami, which is really more of a sensation rather than a taste.