Mimosas are in the brunch cocktail hall of fame for many reasons. They're dead easy to make. They can be very cheap (given how easy it is to disguise mediocre bubbly with orange juice). They've got real juice, which is almost healthy, right? And for day drinking, bubbles are never a bad choice.
But there's an entire world of sparkling brunch drinks out there—some of them just as easy as adding Prosecco to OJ and many of them way more exciting. So for your next brunch party, give one of these five cocktails a try. We promise you won't miss your mimosa.
When you order a French 75 at a fancy cocktail bar, odds are you'll get a gin-lemon cocktail with a sparkling wine float. We're partial to the version with Cognac—and at brunchtime, up the bubbly and use a real dose of Champagne rather than just a float.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine 1 ounce Cognac, 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice and 1/2 ounce simple syrup (equal parts sugar dissolved in hot water). Shake all that up and strain into a flute. Top with 4 ounces of Champagne. Garnish with a long, skinny lemon peel.
First created in Louisville's Seelbach Hotel, this sparkler relies on a base of bourbon with a splash of orange liqueur. (The classic uses Cointreau, but we're using a dry curaçao.) It's stiffer than your standard bubbly cocktail and ideal for a boozy brunch. Just exercise a bit of caution if you want to make it to dinner.
Instructions: Add 1/2 ounce curaçao (we like Pierre Ferrand) and 1 ounce bourbon (such as Buffalo Trace) to a Champagne flute. Add a hefty shake of bitters: 7 dashes of Angostura and 7 of Peychaud's, if you have 'em. Top it all with 5 ounces of sparkling.
Bubbles: delicious. Bubbles perked up with PAMA: even better. Bubbles, PAMA and gin? Now you've got a real cocktail, and one that takes about 15 seconds to put together. (Juniper-phobes can swap in vodka, but we much prefer the gin version.)
Instructions: Pour 1/2 ounce PAMA and 1/2 ounce gin into a wine glass or Champagne flute. Add 5 ounces of sparkling wine.
Limoncello & Bubbles
Pretty much any fruit liqueur tastes great with bubbles, but when that liqueur is on the sweeter side, too much of it can get you into cloying, dangerously sugary territory. Limoncello's sweet-tart balance means you can use a heavier hand.
Instructions: In a Champagne flute, combine 1 ounce limoncello and 5 ounces Prosecco. Garnish with a brandied cherry. Drink three more before brunch is over.
Don't be intimidated by the extra step of making fresh cucumber juice; it's easy enough to do even if you’ve already had one of every cocktail on this list. You just whiz cucumbers and water through a blender and then strain. Use the cucumber juice day of, while it retains its vibrant green color. And while you're at it, you might as well make a bunch and serve by the pitcher...
Instructions: For the cucumber juice: Cut up a fresh cucumber, keeping the skin on for color, and drop it into a blender. Add 1/4 cup water—that's just to help it liquify. Blend it up until totally smooth, then fine-strain it into a container. Dump the solids; the green liquid is your cucumber juice.
For the rest of the cocktail: If you're making a single drink, add 1/2 ounce gin (like Beefeater), 1/2 ounce cucumber juice, 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice and 1/4 ounce honey syrup (equal parts honey dissolved in hot water) to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake it all up, strain into a wine glass with ice and top off with 4 ounces of sparkling wine.
Or make it by the pitcher: 3 ounces gin, 3 ounces fresh lemon and 3 ounces cucumber, stirred up with 1 1/2 ounces of that honey syrup in a pitcher with ice. Top all that off with a full bottle of bubbly and garnish with fresh cucumber slices.
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