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Best cocktails for brunch: Nine picks beyond the mimosa

Our critic chooses the best cocktails for brunch—including one artfully-tweaked mimosa—that will satisfy all your day-drinking needs.

1/9
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Bloody Mary at Saxon + Parole

2/9
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Frankie’s Radler at Frankies 570 Spuntino

3/9
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Afternoon Buzz at Clover Club

4/9
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Raspberry Beret at Peels

5/9
Photograph: Lizz Kuehl

Mirimar Cooler at Prime Meats

6/9
Photograph: Jolie Ruben

Dagger at Fort Defiance

7/9
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Watermelon Mimosa at Fatty ’Cue Manhattan

8/9
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Aperol Fizz at the Dutch

9/9
Photograph: LIzz Kuehl

Hotel Nacional Special at the Beagle

Forgo lackluster Bloody Marys and choose from our critic's pick of New York's best cocktails for brunch, ranging from innovative concoctions to retooled classics—even the much-maligned mimosa is given a refreshing makeover.

Bloody Mary at Saxon + Parole

Sludgy commercial tomato juice may be standard for the brunch-tippling favorite, but this excellent rendition stands apart thanks to a fresh-pressed veggie elixir—a mix of bright tomato, sweet carrots and red bell pepper, plus cucumber and celery. Vodka punched up with garlic delivers boozy weight, while dashes of Worcestershire and Tabasco, along with horseradish, add subtle layers of savoriness and spice. A rim of Aleppo chili and smoked Maldon salt finishes the enlivening, balanced drink. $12.

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Downtown

Frankie’s Radler at Frankies 570 Spuntino

Perfectly constructed for sunshine sipping, this daffodil-yellow quaff is made with beer and a triple hit of lemon from liqueur, juice and soda. Head bartender Damon Boelte builds the drink with an extra-tart limoncello, made in-house with high-proof vodka, turbinado sugar and an armful of lemons that all mingle together for four days. He perks up the sweet Southern Italian–inspired spirit with a splash of fresh citrus and fizzy Lurisia La Nostra Gazzosa, an Italian soda made with Amalfi’s aromatic sfusato lemons. A hoppy pour of the clean and bright pilsner Einbecker delivers a bitter, bracing finish. $11.

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West Village

Afternoon Buzz at Clover Club

Critics' pick

Bartender Tom Macy classes up hazelnut-flavored coffee, an old café favorite, with this milky bourbon sipper. Coffee Heering liqueur brings the morning-brew flavors, while Bulleit—infused with toasted hazelnuts for four days—fortifies the quaff with a nutty, spiced backbone. A dash of vanilla syrup lends fragrant sweetness, whole milk smooths it out and a mound of pebble ice chills the eye-opening tipple. $11.

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Carroll Gardens

Raspberry Beret at Peels

Critics' pick

Bartender Yana Wolfson named this purple-tinged tipple after Prince’s catchy 1985 hit, but the twangy, bone-dry concoction calls to mind experimental jazz more than harmonic pop. The glass showcases Wolfson’s homemade raspberry shrub, an acidic dark-fruit tincture of berries simmered in muscatel vinegar. Sharp grapefruit and lime juices, plus lemony Beefeater gin, triple-down on the citrus for this plummy cocktail. $13.

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East Village

Miramar Cooler at Prime Meats

Critics' pick

Barkeep Natasha David’s breezy, verdant quencher will make a convert out of any tequila-averse drinker. Sweet, floral St. Germain mellows the slight pungency of Pueblo Viejo blanco tequila, erasing any memory of a bad college Jose Cuervo bender, while celery bitters and fresh lime juice play off the spirit’s herbaceous notes. Fine-bubbled seltzer and a twisted ribbon of celery pretty up the refreshing summery drink. $13.

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Carroll Gardens

Dagger at Fort Defiance

Critics' pick

Proprietor St. John Frizell first created this elegant drink for a black-tie cocktail competition honoring Verdi’s Macbeth at the Metropolitan Opera, but the citrusy gin aperitif goes down just as smooth in casual digs on a sunny day in Red Hook. Frizell reps the composer’s Italian roots with rich Cocchi Americano and Macbeth’s Scottish heritage with herbaceous Hendrick’s gin. Bittermens Amère Sauvage, a liqueur made from gentian root, boosts the drink’s bitter notes, and fresh lemon juice brightens it up. $10.

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Red Hook

Watermelon Mimosa at Fatty ’Cue Manhattan

Critics' pick

For this dead-simple riff on the mimosa, beverage director Adam Schuman replaces OJ with fresh-squeezed watermelon juice. Instead of ritzy champagne, he douses the ambrosial fruit juice with a more down-market splash of fizzy prosecco. The sparkling wine imbues the light blush sipper with bubbles, hints of yeast and a dry, satisfying finish. $12.

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West Village

Aperol Fizz at the Dutch

Critics' pick

Beverage director Josh Nadel builds this fruity effervescent quaff with Breuckelen gin and bittersweet Aperol, an Italian aperitif distilled from orange, gentian and rhubarb. He fleshes out the boozy base with purees of fragrant passion fruit and sweet mandarin orange, plus the subtly savory Lillet. Crément de Loire, a biodynamic French sparkling wine, sets off the aromatic cocktail with jubilant bubbles and dries out the finish, so you can keep sipping it all day. $13.

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Soho

Hotel Nacional Special at the Beagle

This sultry Cuban classic, a variation on the daiquiri, conjures Havana’s tropical heat with a sugarcane-based spirit and fermented fruit flavors. Instead of the traditional Bacardi, head bartender Dan Greenbaum swaps in a smooth and vegetal white rum from Flor de Caña in Nicaragua. Fresh-pressed pineapple juice, lime and apricot brandy add funky acid and sweetness. During brunch Sat, Sun noon–3:30pm $11, all other times $13.

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