Whether it is the beginning of a girl’s day, or the final rally after a 17 hour drinking binge, brunch has become an indelible fixture of American society. Sunny cafes, coffee, and avocado toast are all staples of brunch culture, but the most important ingredient in the sunny cocktail that is brunch is, well, cocktails. And the classic ingredient common to all good brunch cocktails is champagne.
Here, we offer a list of the best fresh, new champagne cocktails along with new twists on old classics. So set your alarm clock to 10:30 AM and prepare to brush some hair out of the dog that bit you. You’re greeting the new day in the best way possible: with alcohol.
This fruity variation on the Kir Royale substitutes pomegranate liqueur for crème de cassis for a lighter, more morning-friendly drink. Use a dry champagne rather than overloading your cocktail with sweetness.
Add the pomegranate seeds to a champagne flute and pour in the pomegranate liqueur. Pour chilled champagne on top.
You can pretty much substitute any fruit juice for orange juice and have a pretty good mimosa, but mango puree is particularly suited for a brunch on a hot day. Whether you’re on Kokomo Beach or in Kokomo, Indiana every sip feels like a tropical vacation. (Note: if you don’t want to be fancy, I’m sure normal mango juice would be fine. I’m not lazy, so I wouldn’t know for sure.)
Cube half of one mango and freeze. In a food processor or blender, puree the rest of the mangoes. Using a fine-mesh sieve to strain the puree, discarding any solids. (You should come up with about an ounce of puree.) Chill. Use a mixer to stir together the puree and champagne. Strain into a champagne flute. Add two or three cubes of frozen mango and enjoy.
This next cocktail, created at Louisville’s Seelbach Hotel, evens out the sweetness of champagne and orange liqueur with a good dose of bourbon, making a boozier alternative for brunch-goers.
First, pour 1/2 ounce curaçao and 1 ounce bourbon into a champagne flute. Add 7 dashes of Angostura and 7 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters. Top it off with 5 ounces of champagne.
Blend together the raspberries, pineapple juice, and vanilla. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding any solids, and pour into a mixer. Pour in champagne and seltzer and stir gently to combine. Pour into a champagne glass, top with raspberries and serve.
This cocktail, made during WWI, was named after the French 75mm field gun because of its powerful kick. It is probably still the only French 75 to incapacitate anyone. Rather than the somewhat mellower gin, Cognac offers a deeper, more complex drink whose wine flavors mingle with the champagne for a powerful, yet elegant addition to brunch.
Combine the Cognac, lemon juice and simple syrup in a cocktail mixer. Shake and strain into a champagne flute. Top with 4 ounces of champagne and garnish with lemon peel.
The question of what Champagne to use for brunch cocktails is a difficult one, vehemently debated by brunchers throughout the age. Dry or sweet? Should one buy an expensive Champagne that will lift the entire cocktail, or a cheaper one so that it doesn’t matter if the acidic taste of orange juice washes the flavor out? The debate is ongoing, but we can offer you a starting point on which to build your own opinion.
La Vostra Prosecco $9.99
This light-bodied Champagne from Veneto Italy (if it is not made in Champagne, France it is technically called sparkling wine, but it’s Champagne) is a fresh, light-bodied option with flavors of apple, peach, and honeysuckle. The sugary fruit notes of this wine makes it a great choice for boozier cocktails or anything that could use a little sweetness and at $9.99 it’s perfect for experimenting with new cocktail recipes.
Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava $8.99
A Cava is a Spanish alternative to Champagne whose dryness makes it perfect for mimosa. This particular brand is crisp with citrus and apple flavors and a lively mouthfeel. At $8.99, it’s surprising that this can be enjoyed on its own, but the dryness makes it a good contrast in fruitier cocktails.
Freixenet Sparkling Cordon Negro Brut Cava $12
This popular Cava has a citrus and toasted almond aroma. With a medium body, lively acidity, and patent freshness, this offers a great drinking experience on its own, but especially shines in mellow cocktails. When compared with the last Cava on the list, it finds an even ground between the sweetness of Prosecco and the especially dry Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut.
Taittinger Brut La Francaise Champagne $49.99
The only true Champagne on the list, this rich classic offers a higher percentage of Chardonnay than other nonvintage Champagnes, meaning a lively freshness that still maintains its complexity. Flavors include citrus, mineral, and a hint of cherry. Before you go pouring an entire bottle into some punch mix, it might be a good idea to sample it in its own glass, perhaps with a few raw oysters.