If there's a better time of day than weekend brunch to start drinking, we don't know about it. Think about it: You're relaxed, you're celebrating the end of a long week—and you're eating heavy foods that will absorb all that alcohol. So when it comes to choosing the perfect place to brunch, the drink menu should play as big a part in your decision as the food. Here are five restaurants that know how to do it right, serving awesome brunch cocktails that go well beyond boring mimosas and Bloody Marys.
1. Rossellini at Fig & Olive, Chicago
At Chicago’s Fig & Olive (with branches in Los Angeles, New York, D.C. and Chicago) the bar doesn't lack for juicy, innovative cocktails. At brunch, you'll want to go with the Rossellini: The potent pink libation is made with passion-fruit vodka, blood-orange juice and lime, and it's served straight-up for a deliciously unwatery cocktail.
2. Violet Hour at Backstreet Cafe, Houston
Houston’s Backstreet Cafe is a perpetual favorite for its seasonal American cuisine by James Beard-nominated chef Hugo Ortega, but the stellar beverage program run by sommelier Sean Beck is one of the main draws. The list of boozy concoctions includes the must-try Violet Hour. The cocktail, created especially for a soiree honoring the launch of Tom Ford’s line of colognes, features Prosecco, rum, violet liqueur, dried lavender, grapes and lemon. The drink was such a hit with party-goers that it earned a spot on the restaurant's permanent menu. Photo by Kenn Stearns.
3. Kegged Lemonades at Kapnos, Washington, D.C.
Former Top Chef contestant and Top Chef All-Stars runner up Mike Isabella draws inspiration from Northern Greece to create a menu of spreads, breads, vegetables and other small plates at Kapnos in Washington D.C. While the kitchen at the rustic Greek restaurant has two wood-fired grills for roasting whole animals and a large stone oven for baking flatbreads, the bar holds its own with five different types of spiked lemonades on tap: from a gin-based version with honey, grilled lemon juice and Indonesian rum to a Mastiha (Greek liqueur) lemonade with vodka, watermelon juice, tarragon and lemon. PS Fellow Top Chef alum George Pagonis leads the kitchen as executive chef and partner.
4. Duck-Duck-Punch at Cafe Eugene, Albany, California
The kitchen at the newly opened Cafe Eugene in the Bay Area specializes in amped-up American comfort food and seafood dishes (think clam chowder with littleneck clams, potato, bacon and herbed pastry leaves, and sardines with marinated chilies and boiled egg). Meanwhile the bar at the funky spot, complete with restored wood tables and vintage Tiffany stained-glass lighting fixtures, cranks out solid drinks like the Duck-Duck-Punch. Made with cane-juice rum, orange juice, lime, pomegranate, falernum, nutmeg and vitamin A–packed carrot juice, it's practically a brunch unto itself. Photo by Nader Khouri.
5. Muddy Waters at Geraldine’s, Austin
With its menu of creative, seasonally-driven dishes inspired by Austin's diversity, it’s no surprise that Geraldine’s, on the fourth floor of the Hotel Van Zandt, turns out imaginative brunchtime cocktails like the Muddy Waters. The eye-opening drink combines cold-brew coffee with high-end cognac, sweet almond-flavored syrup, condensed milk and nutmeg for a cocktail you'll want to indulge in morning, noon or night. Photo by Aubrie Pick.
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