Best Brunch Cocktails: Go Beyond the Basic on Mother’s Day

Sorry, plain Jane Bloody Mary; you’re just way too basic these days. That goes for you, too, champy and OJ! Mixologists are creating radical cocktails that seriously raise the bar when it comes to midday imbibing. We’re talking cocky concoctions to boost your lobster benny – and your spirits (as well as mom’s) on Mother’s Day and beyond. Here are delish sips of spring in the form of the best brunch cocktails you need to drink this weekend.

The Ruby Soho, Left Bank, New York, New York
The Ruby Soho cocktail is deftly mixed by head bartender Claiborne Fortenberry, who combines grapefruit and pink peppercorn-infused tequila (made in-house), Pamplemousse liqueur, fresh lime, and a salt rim for a super-fresh day drink. Goes especially well with the eggs Benedict, don’t you think? Make a reservation at Left Bank.

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Eiffel Affair, Eiffel Tower Restaurant, Las Vegas, Nevada
The Eiffel Affair is the best-selling “new classic” cocktail served at the Eiffel Tower in the desert and features fresh berries macerated in Stoli Blueberi Crème de Cassis, Cointreau, and Rose Nectar. It’s topped off with a splash of Eiffel Tower Cremant for added effervescence. Make a reservation at Eiffel Affair.

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Bloody Bull, Momofuku CCDC, Washington, D.C.
Grab the horns and order The Bloody Bull. Made with vodka, tomato, horseradish, and beef broth, the beef broth stars beef shank and oxtail, and is also used in CCDC’s Beef Noodle Soup. The cocktail, served only during weekend lunch, pairs particularly well with Momofuku’s Twice-Cooked Pork Noodles with maple fish sauce vinaigrette and the Scrapple, Egg, and Cheese steamed buns. Make a reservation at Momofuku CCDC.

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Citrine, Harvest Table, St. Helena, California
Lead bartender Joel Pfeifle mixes unique, non-spirit based cocktails — many of the ingredients are sourced from the inn’s five culinary gardens — but these certainly aren’t your garden-variety cocktails. Top brunch libations include the Strawberry Belle (Mirabelle Brut, Strawberry Shrub, Garden Mint Syrup, Lime Juice), The Pampered Moose (Giffard Pamplemousse, No. 209 Gin, Grapefruit Oleo, lemon juice), and the Citrine (sparkling wine, garden mint syrup, fresh squeezed orange, bitters). Make a reservation at Harvest Table.

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The Lunchbox, Farmer & The Seahorse, San Diego, California
A seashell’s fling from the beach in San Diego’s Torrey Pines neighborhood, the status cocktail at celebrity chef Brian Malarkey’s restaurant is called The Lunchbox — made with Mama’s Lil Pilsner beer, Peach liqueur, and freshly squeezed orange juice. It is the perfect pairing to the brunch menu’s duck confit and waffles or the pastrami-style pork belly hash. Make a reservation at Farmer & The Seahorse.

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Asparagus Negroni, Davio’s, Boston, Massachusetts
The Asparagus Negroni (Cynar, Stoli Vodka, Peychaud’s bitters, orange bitters and muddled asparagus) is a nod to the star of springtime. And, it’s a perfect complement to Davio’s brunch menu, including specials like the Beef Tenderloin with poached eggs, potatoes, popover, and truffle hollandaise. Make a reservation at Davio’s.

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Bashment Punch, Solomon & Kuff’s Rum Hall, New York, New York
Known for its almost 100 varieties of rum and a monthly reggae brunch, it’s no shocker that co-owner and mixologist Karl Franz Williams chose to channel the islands when he created his fruity Bashment Punch — a Caribbean-inspired libation of rum, pineapple juice, mango puree, lime juice, and orange bitter. Bonus: Sip it to up your daily fruit intake. Make a reservation at Solomon & Kuff’s Rum Hall.

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Millennial Mimosa, CUCINA enoteca, Newport Beach, California
Mimosas are to brunch what beer is to baseball — traditional, but kinda boring. Meet the millennial mimosa! The ingredients are rolled on a cart to your table and a more exciting mimosa is prepared just for you. You’ll have your choice of mixers, purees, and garnish, and the ingredients are seasonal, including pineapple-blood orange, vanilla bean, Meyer lemon, strawberry jalapeno, pomegranate peach, rosemary ginger pineapple, candied ginger, blueberries, rosemary sprigs, blackberries, fresh strawberries, and pomegranate seeds. Make a reservation at CUCINA enoteca.

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The Board, Nick & Toni’s, East Hampton, New York
Brunch in the Hamptons, such a chic chill. Wait, what, your bloody is bland, not enough horseradish? Or, hot sauce? Oh, bloody hell, you hate to send it back—what will the Seinfelds think? Or Billy Joel? Such a high maintenance brunchster you are. Nick and Toni’s has your back. They call their brunch Bloody Mary cocktail, “The Board” and describe it as “a drink, a snack and an activity.” The way it works: Pick a liquor (house-infused sweet pepper-onion-and basil-infused Absolut, hot pepper and peppercorn Absolut ,or Maestro Dobel Tequila, choose a mix and and garnish away – and toss in a few condiments to your tasting. Special Stuff: Pickled green garlic from the garden will be rotated into the Bloody Board lineup, too. Make a reservation at Nick & Toni’s.

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P-Town Punch, Sabio on Main, Pleasanton, California
The “deceptively light and fruity” P-Town Punch cocktail served at this newbie restaurant packs a lot of punch — Pisco, Strawberry-Rhubarb Gum Syrup, fresh lemon juice, and a strawberry garnish. The cocktail plays well with menu items like the Hamachi “Nicoise” salad and Eggs Benedict, and, thanks to the acid that is needed to cut through fat, the cocktail can also stand up to bigger flavors like the Liberty Duck Croque Monsieur and burgers. Make a reservation at Sabio on Main.

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Muddy Waters, Geraldine’s, Austin, Texas
Named for the father of Chicago blues music, the Muddy Waters cocktail (Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, Averna, Orgeat syrup, cold brew coffee, condensed milk, and nutmeg) is a boozy coffee cocktail that harmonizes well with Geraldine’s Brioche French Toast and Smoked Short Rib Tacos. Make a reservation at Geraldine’s.

Muddy Waters - Photo credit Aubrie Pick

Buffalo Soldier, South Water Kitchen, Chicago, Illinois
Order the Buffalo Soldier (Buffalo Trace Bourbon, egg, maple syrup, two strips crumbled bacon, Peychaud’s Bitters, powdered sugar, and bacon strip garnish), expertly mixed cocktail from by head bartender Dan Rook, and you’ve basically got a beautiful brunch in a glass. Make a reservation at South Water Kitchen.

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Brunch Punch III, Hearth, New York, New York
East Village weekend brunchers get punch drunk with the Brunch Punch III, a brunch-only cocktail that stars Four Roses Bourbon, Atsby, Cocchi di Torino, and blood orange. Order it alongside one of Hearth’s delicious spring brunch dishes like the seasonal vegetable frittata. Make a reservation at Hearth.

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I-5 High Five, Café Eugene, Albany, California
The I-5 High Five (gin, Oregon Marionberry Liqueur, California spiced pear brandy, lemon, rosemary) gives Café Eugene’s cheesy grits with tomatillo-braised pork shoulder, chayote, butternut squash, wild herb sauce and a poached egg a perfect boost. Or, if it’s pancakes you crave, order the Duck-Duck-Punch (rum, orange, carrot, lime, pomegranate, falernum, Oregon chai, nutmeg) and the sweet yogurt raspberry pancakes with orange butter and Vermont maple syrup. Make a reservation at Café Eugene.

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Have your Pancake and Eat It, Too: 12 Acceptable Ways to Eat Dessert for Breakfast

Order a slab of layer cake or a hot fudge sundae for breakfast and garner more than a few raised eyebrows, but ask for an equally indulgent tiramisu or bananas foster in the form of your typical brunch fare and suddenly it’s totally fair game. “You want the crème brûlée? What kind of … oh, the crème brûlée waffles. Excellent choice!” This weekend, gather with friends for an unhurried morning meal and treat yourself to a sweet plate that practically comes with a certificate for one free nap afterward. These decadent dishes go beyond the usual waffles, pancakes, and french toast for a distinctly dessert-like take on brunch. Live the dream and order dessert for breakfast!

The Little Lion, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This Old City eatery named after Alexander Hamilton reinvents a Southern dessert favorite with an unforgettable breakfast feast. For their Red Velvet French Toast, a cheesecake spread is sandwiched between layers of chocolatey bread and comes with a side of raspberry maple syrup for dipping or drenching. Our founding fathers would be duly impressed. Make a reservation at The Little Lion.

Dessert for Breakfast

Max Brenner, Boston Massachusetts
At this chocolate lover’s mecca, there’s an entire section of the menu dedicated to a sweet brunch. You’ll find treats like White Chocolate Cream French Toast, Illegal Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Pancakes, and the aptly named After Party Belgian Waffles. Two hot waffles are the backdrop for balsamic strawberries, strawberry honey, melted white chocolate, and a healthy (sized) scoop of whipped cream. Take a cue from the name and order these after a late Saturday night — chocolate is a surprisingly powerful cure-all. Make a reservation at Max Brenner.

Dessert for Breakfast

La Sirena, New York, New York
The fluffy Amaretti Mascarpone Pancakes at Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s newest Italian restaurant — their first to serve breakfast — have actual amaretto cookies shaved on top for a nicely sweet, nutty flavor. What’s the opposite of a short stack? We’ll have that, per favore. Make a reservation at La Sirena.

Dessert for Breakfast

Proof on Main, Louisville, Kentucky
This isn’t your grandmother’s casserole. Unless, of course, your grandmother’s recipe calls for liberal scoops of nutella and marshmallow. At this airy, art-filled space inside Louisville’s 21c Museum Hotel, chef Mike Wajda makes a French Toast Casserole with everyone’s favorite chocolate hazelnut spread, marshmallow fluff, and a hazelnut crunch for an indulgent spin on the classic breakfast staple. Make a reservation at Proof on Main.

Dessert for Breakfast

Siena Tavern, Chicago, Illinois
In an effort to incorporate the restaurant’s beloved Tiramisu on the brunch menu at chef Fabio Viviani’s bustling Italian eatery, pastry chef Amy Arnold dreamed up the Tiramisu French Toast. With espresso-soaked brioche, marsala cream, and white chocolate, chef Arnold describes it as “your morning coffee and a day’s worth of dessert all wrapped up into breakfast.” Translation: there’s coffee in here, so it’s the perfect way to kick start your day. Make a reservation at Siena Tavern.

Dessert for Breakfast

Avenue Kitchen, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania
This stylish, sunny bistro takes the best part of the quintessential French dessert — the entire thing — and places it atop a perfectly fluffy Belgian waffle. Chef Gregory Smith whips up a vanilla bean crème brûlée, then torches the sugary top to create the signature crisp, caramelized coating. Custard fills the pressed pockets, and with every decadent bite you’ll wonder why all French restaurants don’t offer their crème brûlée on a waffle. Make a reservation at Avenue Kitchen.

Dessert for Breakfast

Isla, Austin, Texas
Austin’s own Caribbean cantina serves up a sweet island-inspired brunch, complete with Bananas Foster French Toast. Chef de cuisine Alex Hughes explains, “Who doesn’t want dessert for breakfast? Ever since I was young, bananas foster has been a go-to for me. Now everyone can enjoy the best of both worlds.” To recreate the classic dessert, chef Hughes uses housemade brioche, sliced bananas, and Pilar rum caramel sauce. Paired with one of Isla’s signature brunch cocktails (the Goodie Goodie Rumdrop, perhaps?), it’s a recipe for a carefree, breezy kind of Sunday. Make a reservation at Isla.

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On the Menu: Chefs Share Dishes Inspired by Mom

Mothers love us, care for us, and, of course, feed us. Our earliest experiences with food are largely shaped by the caring folks who cooked for and with us as we grew up. Not surprisingly then, many chefs are using their menus to pay homage to the mothers who delighted them with homespun recipes, often using garden-fresh ingredients. In honor of Mother’s Day, chefs share dishes inspired by mom.

Sergio Emilio Monleón, La Marcha, Berkeley, California
Chef Sergio Emilio Monleón was raised California but in a Spanish household and he spent eight years in Madrid. His mother made paella all the time when he was growing up and hers is the inspiration behind the restaurant’s version of Paella Mixta, which features head-on prawns, chicken, chorizo, garlic, sweet peppers, saffron, and rice. Make a reservation at La Marcha.

Dishes Inspired by Mom

Jesse Souza, Six Seven, Seattle, Washington
Executive Chef Jesse Souza says, “Spring in New England was always a time to shake off the long, dark winter and ready for the precious summer months.  My mother was and is partial to vegetables that are vibrant, bright, and bursting with the flavors of spring and early summer. She grew up spending summers in the garden, dousing sun-warmed tomatoes with fresh coarse salt. This flavor profile and garden-to-table ethic continue in Six Seven’s Heirloom Tomato Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella with Arugula Pesto and Sea Salt.” Make a reservation at Six Seven.

Dishes Inspired by Mom

Jennifer Russo, The Market by Jennifer’s, Phoenix, Arizona
Chef Jennifer Russo shares, “Our spring lamb dish with potatoes and peas is an homage to my mother Gwen in so many ways. She has always had a garden and stressed the importance of cooking seasonally to me in my childhood. She’s also a health nut and would approve of my whipped cauliflower as an alternative to potatoes. And, of course, she’s very Irish and lamb is something she’s made for me since I was a kid.” Make a reservation at The Market By Jennifer’s.

Dishes Inspired by Mom

Erik Lowe, Spaghetti Bros., San Francisco, California
With a name like Spaghetti Bros, you might assume spaghetti and meatballs are on the menu, and you’d be right. Sort of. Chef Erik Lowe makes several pasta dishes including Radiatori with Smoky Pork Sugo and Fermented Chili Oil and a scrumptious Spaghetti with Local Uni Butter, but his savory meatballs are of the Swedish variety. They are based on his grandmother’s recipe and served with plenty of lingonberry jam and crunchy bits of fried shallots. Make a reservation at Spaghetti Bros..

Dishes Inspired by Mom

William DeMarco, Crush at MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada
DeMarco, the property’s corporate executive chef, recounts,  “I have a lot of happy memories from spending time in the kitchen and learning how to cook from my Italian mother and grandmother. As any true Italian knows, Sundays are meant for pasta, and gnocchi has always been one of my favorites.” DeMarco’s classic Italian Ricotta Gnocchi at CRUSH does have some American influence; it’s served atop a pea puree and topped with braised short rib. Make a reservation at Crush at MGM Grand.

Dishes Inspired by Mom

Todd Kelly, Orchids at Palm Court, Cincinnati, Ohio
Chef Todd Kelly says that growing up, his mom would make a slow cooked lamb on Mother’s Day. She prepared the dish with home-canned vegetables from the garden. Today, he recreates it for guests at the restaurant on Mother’s Day using many of the flavors his mom did. He rubs the leg of lamb with a paste of garlic, rosemary, and parsley, and then sears it and slow cooks it. The sauce is a simple red wine and lamb stock reduction finished with Dijon mustard. Preserved carrots, spring onions, Brussels sprouts, hedgehog mushrooms, and, if available, foraged morel mushrooms round out this spring offering. Make a reservation at Orchids at Palm Court.

Dishes inspired by mom

Rupesh Shetty, Inde Fusion, Scottsdale, Arizona
Fusion cooking allows restaurateur Shetty to combine flavors from his childhood with American influences. He says, “The shrimp and grits dish reminds me of growing up in Mumbai and experiencing my mother’s homemade shrimp curry and all of her incredible cooking. In keeping with our theme of the restaurant, we took a typically Western dish and infused it with a dash of Eastern flavor — so local comfort food meeting masala spice is like a hug from my mom.” Make a reservation at Inde Fusion.

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Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges: Where to Spend Your Refund

April showers bring May flowers or if you’re really lucky, the month itself brings a big fat tax refund. Since experiences bring more happiness than possessions, a big splurge dinner on the town seems like the perfect way to spend it. Here are some top picks Tax Day 2016 dining splurges to live and eat large if only for one night. please note that the most exclusive wines are available in extremely limited quantities, so it’s best to inquire ahead of time if you have your heart set on a particularly splurge-y selection.

Daniel, New York, New York
Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant on the Upper East Side just off of Central Park is the epitome of contemporary French extravagance. The seven-course tasting menu clocks in at $234 or $459 with wine pairings and includes signature dishes like velvety Minted Pea Soup with chicken mousse and Louisiana crayfish and garlic pennycress and can include courses of langoustines, beef, and quail with foie gras. The wine list has selections such as Chateau D’Yquem 1918 for $10,000 or Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2009 for $15,000. Or if you’re celebrating with similarly flush-with-cash friends, how about a magnum? You can’t go wrong with the Domaine Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru “Cros Parantoux”1995 for $20,000. Make a reservation at Daniel.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

Providence, Los Angeles, California
Chef Michael Cimarusti’s 2-Michelin star paean to fine dining in the heart of Los Angeles features the chef’s menu, a 12-course tasting menu with sustainable seafood from the U.S. and beyond, as well as other delicacies like prized A5 wagyu beef. Decadent touches include ossetra caviar and white truffle and black truffle fondue. It’s $220 or $325 with wine pairings. But if you’re really looking to splash out, begin your evening with a bottle of 1998 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay Champagne for $3,500 and then move on to a bottle of 2012 La Tâche Domaine de la Romanée-Conti for $4,000. Finish the evening with a bottle to remember in the way of a 1959 Staatsweingut Kloster Eberbach Riesling Auslese for $3,500. Make a reservation at Providence.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

Saison, San Francisco, California
Chef Joshua Skenes and sommelier Mark Bright have crafted one of the most unique high-end dining environments at Saison, with its open floor plan encompassing the dining room, bar, lounge, and kitchen — effectively removing all walls. The goal is to bring diners into the chef’s world, in this case, a minimalist redesign of the California Electric Light Company building. Dishes have vague and poetic names such as Fire in the Sky Beet, Bone Marrow Roasted over Coals and Sea Urchin, Liquid Toast. The prix-fixe Discovery menu is a luxe $398 for about 16 courses with an additional $298 for wine pairings. But if you want to really max out the credit cards (assuming you can pay it off with your return dough), you might consider ordering the Domaine Georges Roumier ‘Bonnes-Mares’ Grand Cru 2009 for $15,408 or ending the experience on a truly sweet note with Château D’Yquem Premiere Cru Supérieur, Sauternes 1942 for $6,888. Make a reservation at Saison.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

StripSteak by Michael Mina, Miami, Florida
Located in the historic Fontainebleau hotel on Collins Avenue in Miami, StripSteak is swank and clubby with its wood tones and rich browns. Start your meal with rare golden osetra caviar service for $295, and then indulge in a beefy entrée like the 50-ounce Australian tomahawk for $150 or the Japanese Miyazaki prefecture A5 striploin for $32 per ounce. Then gild the lily with add-on extras like half a Maine lobster tail or seared foie gras. The restaurant prides itself on having one of the largest pre-embargo Cuban cigar collections in Miami, all dating back to 1962 and earlier with prices generally in the $100-200 range but topping out at $395 for a 6-inch Montecristo. To accompany your stogie, choose a tableside Japanese whisky ceremony or perhaps a glass of 25-year Macallan for $370. Make a reservation at StripSteak by Michael Mina.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

Grace, Chicago, Illinois
This Michelin three-star restaurant is also one of the biggest splurges in Chicago. Elegant and understated, chef Curtis Duffy’s Windy City gem is upscale without being fussy. The menu offers an 8-12 course tasting menu format at $235. The dishes are described in classic minimalist style such as Alaskan King Crab, sudachi, cucumber, lemon mint or Pig Tail, endive, cauliflower, oxalis. Many dishes have Asian accents and the vegetarian “flora” menu is as captivating as the “fauna” menu, which showcases seafood and protein. The wine list features saves and splurges among 1,400 selections. Teetotalers can splurge on bespoke teas that cost upwards of $20 each. Make a reservation at Grace.

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