Getting Brunch Right

By Jeffrey M. Kralik, Ph.D.

Easter is next weekend, and many people are likely already planning a brunch.  If you are like me, you know that brunch gives one license to start drinking before noon, and that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, for many people, their idea of day drinking almost always includes what I consider to be the world’s worst cocktail: the mimosa.

Don’t get me wrong, I like orange juice as much as the next guy, and I have stated countless times in this space my complete adoration for sparkling wine, but putting them together? Dumb. That’s right, I just called America’s favorite brunch beverage dumb, and I would have no problem saying that to its face. If the mimosa had a face. Even calling it a “cocktail” is ridiculous. Mimosas are to cocktails what tricycles are to racing bikes. Whoever “invented” the mimosa either was not all that clever, or just did not feel like trying that day.

I understand the screwdriver, which I believe was invented so that a) the harsh taste of vodka is muted, and b) you can possibly fool your family into thinking that you are drinking orange juice and not trying to numb the pain of being around them for the entire day. The mimosa, on the other hand, makes both the orange juice and the sparkling wine worse and absolutely no one is fooled since they are almost always served in a champagne flute.

What really drives me up a wall, though, is when mimosas are made with champagne. Why on earth take a perfectly good – and expensive – bottle of champagne and then add something to it that will completely overpower the complex flavors and aromas of one of the world’s best wines? It’s akin to taking a perfectly cooked, dry-aged Wagyu ribeye and dousing it with a combination of A-1 sauce and ketchup. Dumb.  And perhaps criminal.

Not all sparkling wine cocktails are dumb, however. I encourage you to try one or more of these instead of the mimosa when it is time to get your day-drink on at brunch. But don’t be dumb; use a less expensive bottle of sparkling wine (e.g., Prosecco, Cava or an inexpensive California sparkling wine) instead of champagne.

Kir Royale

Perhaps my favorite bubbling cocktail is also one of the easiest to make. It is the sparkling version of the classic Kir, which combines a dry white wine with Crème de Cassis. The traditional Kir Royale uses Chambord, a raspberry liqueur instead of cassis. The more liqueur you use, the sweeter – and stronger – the result.


Chambord or another Crème liqueur, such as cassis (black currant), pèche (peach) or fraise (strawberry)

Dry sparkling wine, chilled

Fresh raspberries (optional)

Directions:  Put a couple of teaspoons of Chambord (and a raspberry or two) in a champagne flute; fill with sparkling wine.

Aperol Spritz

The last time I was in Italy, everyone was drinking some version of the Spritz. Personally, I prefer the original made with easy to find Aperol. Almost every recipe for the Spritz calls for a dash of sparkling water. Dumb. I just add more Prosecco.


2 oz. Aperol

3 oz. Prosecco

Orange slice for garnish


Directions:  Fill a glass with ice, pour in Aperol, stir, add in Prosecco, stir again. Garnish with an orange slice.

Strawberry Bellini

The classic Bellini uses fresh peaches, but since those can be tricky to find this time of year, I use fresh strawberries instead.


2 cups fresh strawberries, plus a few more for garnish

Dry sparkling wine, chilled

Directions:  Purée the strawberries in a blender, then strain to get rid of as many of the seeds as possible. Add about an ounce of the purée to a flute, then top with sparkling wine. You may need to stir gently. Add a few diced strawberries to garnish.

Raspberry Mimosa

Yeah, I know, I spend ten minutes completely bashing the mimosa and then include one here. This drink takes a bit more effort, though, adds a bunch more flavor, and is by no means dumb.


Chambord Raspberry Liqueur

Dry sparkling wine, chilled

Orange juice

Fresh raspberries

Directions:  Pour about a teaspoon of Chambord in the bottom of a glass. Add a raspberry or two and muddle them with the handle end of a wooden spoon. Fill the glass halfway with orange juice. Top with sparkling wine. Stir gently. Add another raspberry or two for garnish.