A Bartender's Tips for Drinking at Brunch
If you've got one of Meaghan Dorman's cocktails in front of you, you know you're in great hands. The bar director of The Raines Law Room, Dear Irving, and The Bennett does more than craft a memorable beverage; she makes sure her guests are enjoying it in the optimal surroundings. At the former two, this includes such thoughtful details as curtained couch areas and a push-button system for summoning another round. At the latter, Dorman has recently introduced some brunch drinks that are specifically crafted to tend to the needs of daytime drinkers who may be keeping the party going, easing into the day, or just getting started. Here are her guidelines for making the most of brunch drinking.
Extra Crispy: People sometimes show up at brunch needing their drink to do more than just make them not thirsty. What can a good brunch drink do for someone who might be in rough shape?
Meaghan Dorman: A good brunch is invigorating. More than hydration, brunch drinks provide a brightness that shakes off the cobwebs of the prior night.
What’s the best liquor for a brunch drink?
I love some kind of spritz, I think a bitter aperitif with some bubbles is perfect before the meal. I also love tequila in savory cocktails at brunch.
Could you walk us through the rest of the elements: sweet, spicy, tangy, etc.?
Brunch drinks by nature are paired with a meal, so it's a great opportunity to combine elements. Perhaps something bitter and bubbly to get the appetite going, but then if you’re getting super spicy hangover eggs, balance it with something a bit rich or creamy. Use the acid of some fresh fruit in a cocktail to balance out sweeter items like pancakes and waffles.
Where do you stand on garnishes, especially when it comes to bloody marys?
I think a lemon wedge is essential in case folks wants another hit of acid, and I love a celery stalk. But otherwise I don’t think people should have to work at brunch. I’ve definitely been to places where I have to remove a towering display of vegetables to take a sip of my drink. I think three elements max on a bloody mary.
What’s the role of sparkling wine in a brunch drink?
I love sparkling wine at brunch. It's great in spritzy cocktail or on its own. I’m for bubbles anytime.
Is there anything that’s off-limits, drinkwise at brunch?
I don’t think anything! One of my favorite aspects of brunch is that it's perfectly acceptable to have four beverages going at once. I even throw a chocolate milk into the mix sometimes, I've loved it since I was little.
There are indeed usually multiple beverages going on at brunch: Coffee, water, booze, etc. What’s the right order of operations?
I always do one big glass of water while I’m waiting for my coffee and some kind of a spritz to start. I will hang on to that coffee all meal and drink it long past its proper temperature. I will usually taste test someone else's bloody mary and then decide, because it's got to have a nice horseradish kick and not taste too much like gazpacho. I will also always order any kind of coffee-and-cold brew cocktail.
What’s the best way to keep a large drink cold that doesn’t water it down and—if this applies—keep it fizzy?
We freeze our glassware to keep a cold temp longer, or use one large cube as it won’t melt as fast.
What’s the right number of brunch cocktails to have?
Depends if there is time for a nap. But I find one coffee, one spritz, one cocktail, one rose works just fine for me.