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It's perfect the way it is

Mary Grace Garis
December 03, 2018

One of the worst bait-and-switches of my life came when I ordered a mimosa and received a glass of half $4 pinot grigio and half apple cider, served lukewarm. I can still taste the stale disappointment on my tongue, a flavor curdling under the false pretenses of a bubbly citrus. This wasn’t a mimosa, this was just drinking before 11. Whether it’s high prices or substitute ingredients, people are taking weird liberties with mimosas. And I don’t know what to call that pinot-cider concoction, but I do know that we don’t need to continue to bastardize the absolute purity of brunch’s favorite drink (sorry, Bloody Marys).

But first, some backstory. Mimosas were invented by Marge Simpson’s bowling instructor Jacques in The Simpsons episode “Life on the Fast Lane.” Or maybe not, the origins are a little all over the place. One theory is that it’s the thriving variation of a “Buck’s Fizz,” a drink invented by Pat McGarry in 1921. It favored two parts Champagne and one part orange juice… sound familiar? Four years later in 1925, the mimosa reportedly emerged at the Hôtel Ritz Paris, presumed to be the brainchild of famed Nazi-fighting bartender Frank Meier. But Meier, who put a star next to his original beverages in The Artistry Of Mixing Drinks, did not lay claim to the drink.

So who knows quite what went on there, but generally it’s believed this “mimosa” was half Champagne, half orange juice. Easy enough, right?

Now let’s break down that formula, because it’s stunning in its simplicity. It’s literally two ingredients: orange juice, which is very plausibly in your fridge, and a sparkling wine, possibly left over from your last big shindig. Note how I say “sparkling wine” because as much as I vouch for a traditional mimosa, us millennial scum favor prosecco over Champagne, and I’m not even against cava. Like I’m obnoxious and privileged, but I’m not a Kardashian, you know? And you can grab a decent sparkling wine for under $15, meaning you can keep the cocktails flowing for under $20 with almost zero effort. How can anyone mess that up?

Well let me tell you: the rise of brunch has spoiled the mimosa.

You know how I just said you can make a mimosa fountain for $20 or less? It’s why I can’t handle the audacity of going to a brunch spot and where they charge $11 per drink. And nobody’s breaking out the Veuve Clicquot for this, they’re using the same mid-level bubbly lingering in my fridge, pre-mixed in a flair bottle for all to see.

First of all, how dare you. Second of all, and don’t turn on me for this, but bottomless brunches have gotten out of hand. I know why they exist, of course: every once in a while we enjoy the hedonistic thrill of going out to somewhere cute to day-drink with our waffles (adorable!) and ending up crying on the phone to your ex-boyfriend, saying that you don’t know what park you’re in but you love New York SO MUCH (less cute!). That’s a fun rite of passage, if you can get a hold of the pitcher and Sometimes you’ll knock it out of the park with a good deal, generally you’re more likely to sell your soul to wave down a harried waitress for an hour.

And do not get me started on the scam of the Bottomless Brunch Birthday, because, I can’t speak for everywhere, but in New York? It is a scourge. I’ve had to defer many-a celebration because of a group prix fix brunch, you know the ones. You get invited to a co-worker’s birthday and find out, to your abject horror, that if you want to go bottomless you have to pay a $60 flat fee, plus tax, plus tip, plus chipping in for the birthday girl’s tab. Oh, and it’s mandatory for the whole group, so no pressure but if you opt out you’re ruining the party, Mary Grace.

I prefer a complimentary mimosa-or-bloody-mary with meal sitch, it’s a gentle reward that lets me choose my own day-drinking adventure from there.

Finally, there’s the extra-fication of the mimosa, switching in avante-garde flavors and tampering with it’s two-ingredient elegance. Now, I can understand a mimosa bar for a bridal shower or an Eggo-rich Stranger Things-themed breakfast party (I’ve only been to the latter, see previous reference to being millennial scum). Pairing your sparkling wine with options of orange juice, grapefruit or idk, pomegranate juice is hardly an undertaking.

But mint? Guava? Carrot juice? APPLE CIDER AND LUKEWARM WINE? Sweetie, what are you doing?

Rest assured that there are bigger problems in the world right now, and the wrong ingredient in an overpriced mimosa doesn’t really cut the top 25. Or top 25,000. If you’re not in the demographic who panics when they can’t find when out the start date for Starbucks Holiday drinks is, this is undoubtedly not a real problem for you.

Yet I do mourn a drink that symbolized a sort of luxury while actually being well, affordable and accessible. I miss the simple joy of a sipping an effervescent, effulgent beverage that takes two seconds to put together. And like fooling myself that the Vitamin C makes it “healthy,” but that’s a different thing.

So please stop the improvising and please stop the overcharging. Mimosa is the name of the drink. It’s orange juice and Champagne, and it’s perfect just the way that it is.  

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