Weekend mornings and vacations during the spring and summer are some of the best times of our lives! The sun is rising, the birds are chirping, dew is rising and the opportunity’s to enjoy an awesome morning cocktail are abundant.
My two favorite morning drinks are bloody marys and mimosas. Mimosa is an old-time English and French favorite. The Mother’s Day brunch staple is named after the beautiful tropical flower. The delicious elixir is elegant in its simplicity — champagne and orange juice. However, the devil is in the details.
What type of champagne? Fresh-squeezed or pulp-free juice? What to garnish the glass with? Any special add-ons? What is the correct proportion of bubbly and OJ?
Two types of sparkling wine work well. If you have a sweet tooth and like sweet wines, go with the Italian masterpiece Asti Spumante. Asti is the region in Italy where the wine comes from, and Spumante means sparkling wine. The grape is predominantly moscato, one of the most popular wines in the U.S. Sweet, easy, and low alcohol — Asti is a great sipper.
For more body and crispness, go with Brut Champagne. Remember that brut is the driest of all sparkling wines, drier than extra-dry. I agree at first it doesn’t make sense, but I believe the French do it just to mess with our minds.
Try a Spanish brut cava like Frexinet or the New Mexico sparkling wine from Gruet for your mimosa. They are both great medium-priced brands that are definitely a step up from the cheap California sparklers.
Take a fluted champagne glass (any glass is OK if you don’t have a flute) and put in two ounces of pulp-free OJ. Fill the glass with the champagne, and if you like a little kick you can add a floater of Grand Marnier (the famous French orange liqueur) over the top. Garnish with an orange wheel and you have the perfect morning cocktail.
Where a mimosa is simple, the bloody mary can be complex and an intricate exercise in mixology. Thousands of combinations can be used to make the bloody mary, and everyone has his or her own secret way. At its base, a bloody mary is merely tomato juice and vodka. But we all love flavors, and the myriad choices of bloody mary mixers make it fun. A few of my favorite mixers are Remedy Bloody Mary and Zing Zang. When you don’t want to work from scratch, these mixers are amazing.
Remedy is a homemade mixer produced in Holmen, Wis. It has a little black pepper and extra cayenne for a special kick at the back of your mouth. The Zing Zang mixer is a little bit mild and allows you to experiment a little more with your add-ons.
What really kicks up the bloody marys are the spices and other garnishes that work so well. Various salts, peppers, glass rimmers and seasonings can all add the little something you need to find your unique flavor. See the sidebar for my favorite recipe.
Let the veggies soak up the flavors and, about halfway through your drink, delicately take the skewer and enjoy the soaked veggies for the special treat. Other cool items to add are cheese squares, bacon, pickled asparagus, and jalapenos. The list goes on and on. Try your favorites and have a go.
Another secret ingredient is to add Seagram’s Lime Twisted Gin to your bloody mary instead of vodka. It adds a little zing and the lime works really well with the acidity of the tomato juice.
The old saying goes — you can’t drink all day unless you start in the morning. Try one of these morning eye-openers to start the weekend right! Cheers, and enjoy in moderation!
Ari’s Bloody mary recipe
- About 2 ounces vodka
4 ounces tomato juice
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
Dash Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and horseradish
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a tall Collins glass with ice.
Put bleu cheese, stuffed olives and hot peppers on a skewer and add to the glass.