CHEERS

Bloody Marys, Mi­mosas and More

Times of the Islands - - Contents - BY GINA BIRCH

Ilove get­ting a text from friends ask­ing what wine goes with eggs Bene­dict or French toast. Why do cof­fee and tea al­ways get top billing for a break­fast bev­er­age? OK, cof­fee and tea can keep the 7 a.m. time slot, but for lovers of spir­its and for food­ies who like to make an event out of the first meal of the day, the caf­feinated bev­er­ages are the warm-up act, not the head­liner.

In the time span be­tween mid­morn­ing and early af­ter­noon, es­pe­cially on the week­end, the din­ing cat­e­gory is nei­ther break­fast nor lunch; it melds into the trendy cat­e­gory of brunch. At brunch I ex­pect creative com­bos of food, and cock­tails are a given.

Some es­tab­lish­ments of­fer bot­tom­less mi­mosas and/or Bloody Marys, oth­ers of­fer elab­o­rate Bloody Mary bars, giv­ing pa­trons com­plete con­trol over spices and gar­nishes.

A Bloody Mary is quite sim­ply tomato juice and vodka, with a few spices; the spices are key. To make your own, the tra­di­tional el­e­ments are Worces­ter­shire sauce, hot sauce, horse­rad­ish and pep­per. Other com­mon ad­di­tions are cel­ery salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime. Make it easy with a pre­mixed ver­sion, and doc­tor it to your taste.

Bloody Marys are es­pe­cially good with omelets, oys­ters and many shrimp dishes.

The tra­di­tional gar­nish is a stick of cel­ery, but why stop there when you can add skew­ers of meats, cheeses, pick­led veg­eta­bles and more? This is where some restau­rants and bars set the bar high—putting enough ac­cou­trements in the glass that it be­comes both a drink and an ap­pe­tizer. It’s a hearty way not only to be­gin a brunch, but also to ease the pain of a hang­over—at least ac­cord­ing to some.

Bub­bles are one of the more ver­sa­tile spir­its for brunch. There’s noth­ing like a crisp sparkling wine to cut through the fat of brunch meats and cheeses. Add a splash of or­ange juice to make a mi­mosa, and it doesn’t get much bet­ter.

Try mi­mosas with break­fast casseroles, eggs Bene­dict and yo­gurt, or sim­ply sip.

The per­fect pro­por­tions of or­ange juice and sparkling wine can be sub­jec­tive. While some think the amounts are 50/50, the

most de­sired blend is three parts wine to one part juice.

Pour the bub­bles first, and then top with the OJ. Whether you are mak­ing in­di­vid­ual drinks or pre­mix­ing a pitcher, keep some of the liq­uids out and on ice so your guests can ad­just the ra­tio if de­sired.

If you’re mak­ing any kind of sparkling cock­tail, by­pass ex­pen­sive Cham­pagne and look for a cava (Span­ish) or pros­ecco (Ital­ian); these are bet­ter val­ues for mix­ing. And don’t skimp on the juice; good qual­ity is im­por­tant.

Get creative with sparkling wines at brunch by adding all kinds of fruit purees and nec­tars such as peach for a Bellini. Fill small carafes with dif­fer­ent fla­vors like guava, cran­berry and pome­gran­ate; then let your guests make their own.

While whisky might not be top of mind for a brunch bev­er­age, you might change your opin­ion af­ter tast­ing TAP 357; it’s like break­fast in a glass.

Pro­duced in Que­bec where syrup tap­ping was born and per­fected, the rye whisky is made in small batches, us­ing a com­plex mix of aged bar­rels. It is blended, dis­tilled four times and al­lowed to ma­ture in bour­bon bar­rels be­fore be­ing fin­ished with pure “Grade 1 Light” maple syrup.

The re­sult is an aro­matic, spicy and sweet combo with a smoky maple fla­vor that begs for break­fast meats and treats like pan­cakes and ba­con. Serve it on the rocks, in tea or with le­mon­ade and club soda. While brunch cock­tails can be quite elab­o­rate, it’s hard to beat these ba­sics. Cheers.

There’s noth­ing like a crisp sparkling wine to cut through the fat of brunch meats and cheeses.

Gina Birch is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor, a lover of good food and drink, and a well-known me­dia

per­son­al­ity in South­west Florida.

Pro­duced in Que­bec, Tap 357 is fin­ished with “Grade 1 Light” maple syrup. Above, brunch-time bloody Marys can be quite elab­o­rate.

Sparkling wine com­bined with all man­ner of fruit con­coc­tions makes a re­fresh­ing brunch cock­tail.

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