What better way is there to tell your mom you love her than a homemade brunch on Mother's Day? And while you're at it, what better way is there to say, "Thank you for putting up with me" than a well-mixed brunch drink? Consider this your recipe guide to delicious brunch cocktails (plus nonalcoholic options!) that are a little more unusual than your standard mimosa.
Pisco-Grapefruit Brunch Pitcher
Pisco is especially delicious in a light cocktail like this easy brunch drink inspired by extra-flavorful Ruby Red and Oro Blanco grapefruits. To double up on grapefruit flavor, you'll use both the juice and the zest, steeped in an easy simple syrup. Batching the drink in advance means you won't have to fuss at the last minute (and can concentrate on waffle-making.)
We can't get enough of the full-flavored strawberries that show up at farmers markets this time of year. Eat them plain, eat them with whipped cream, and use them in this simple fizzy drink, made with tart lime juice, fresh, bright mint, and a little vodka. Once it's mixed with club soda, the cocktail transforms from joltingly sweet and sour into a light, effervescent brunch-friendly drink.
Thyme for a Salty Dog
The Salty Dog is a classic brunch drink, and it's a cinch to whip one up. We like this gin variation made with a little lime in addition to the grapefruit, and a pinch of crunchy Maldon salt. But if you and Mom prefer vodka, we recommend this version, which gets a little added flavor from an easy thyme-flavored simple syrup.
Ultimate Bloody Mary
If Mom likes to stick to the classics (and appreciates her drinks on the savory side), consider making her the best Bloody Mary ever. Ours gets a boost from Worcestershire sauce and a little soy, and gets its heat from freshly grated horseradish (plus some cayenne and Frank's hot sauce.) Consider making a big batch of the mixture and setting up a choose-your-own garnish bar with celery stalks, poached shrimp or smoked mussels, assorted pickled things, and bacon swizzle sticks.
You've seen bubbly brunch drinks before, but this tart lime variation, served at Nopa in San Francisco, is really special, made with herbal Green Chartreuse and maraschino liqueur to sweeten. The result is less like a cocktail and more like improved sparkling wine. Cava will do the trick—no need to shell out for Champagne in this case.
Sweet and tangy kiwi is wonderful paired with the slightly licoricey flavor of tarragon, especially when they're shaken with your favorite gin. The gin's herbal notes tie into the tarragon's flavor, and tart lime and soda make it extra refreshing. Added bonus: this one takes just one bottle of booze, no fancy liqueurs that require an extra trip to the liquor store.
Honey and Marmalade Sour
Scones and marmalade are obvious at brunch, but how about vodka and marmalade? The citrusy stuff adds really nice bittersweet flavor to this drink, made bracing with fresh lemon and mellowed out with honey.
A slightly floral drink feels just right for the occasion, but elderflower liqueur needs to be used carefully to not overpower a cocktail. This one perfectly balances the St. Germain with herbal gin and a little cognac, plus lemon and grapefruit juice to up the refreshment factor.
Grapefruit and Ginger Sparkler
Grapefruit, with its slightly bitter punch, is wonderful at cutting through the warm sweetness of ginger liqueur. Mixed with a little bubbly, this drink is citrusy and bright, spicy and fresh-tasting, perfect for pairing with a German pancake.
Fresh Watermelon Margarita
This fresh fruit margarita is pretty in pink and crazy-refreshing. To get the watermelon flavor to really come through, you'll whir an ample amount of watermelon (seedless is best) in a blender with a little kosher salt. A touch of elderflower liqueur deepens the flavor of the melon, and of course, you'll need some decent tequila, too.
Hard Cider and Crème Yvette Sparkler
Want to introduce Mom to something new? How about a bottle of Crème Yvette, a violet liqueur that's floral with hints of berries, vanilla, orange, and spices. It's lovely with something bubbly: in this simple drink, we mix it with hard cider. The crisp cider cuts the fruity and floral Crème Yvette quite nicely.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Bellini With Basil
Tart rhubarb and sweet, red strawberries are the perfect foil for fresh basil in this pretty spring cocktail. You can refrigerate the unused portion of puree in an airtight container for up to one week and add bubbly before serving. Want to stay on sparkling train? Here are a few other bellini variations.
Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail
This lightly floral cocktail has a secret ingredient: white balsamic. The vinegar adds a tangy edge to a mix of gin and sweet tangerine juice that's flavored with chamomile. The base for this drink gets premixed in a bottle that can be packed away until you're ready to serve it. Just pop open some sparkling wine to top it off!
This variation on the classic Spritz allows you to capture the essence of raspberries without all those little seeds. You'll make an easy raspberry syrup with a touch of mint, then mix it with bittersweet Cocchi Americano and sparkling wine. Since there's no stiff spirit involved, this is the sort of drink Mom can enjoy all afternoon.
Sparkling Suze Cocktail
Suze is a saffron-colored French aperitif with a delicately bittersweet flavor. It's practically a cocktail in a bottle, with hints of citrus and wildflowers, but it's especially wonderful mixed with sparkling wine and a touch of elderflower liqueur.
Not all bourbon drinks are made for a warm-weather brunch, but this little bubbly-and-bourbon combo is perfect, thanks to a squeeze of lemon and a splash of elderflower liqueur.
Sparkling Grapefruit Sangria With Lillet Rosé
Sangria always feels right when you're hosting a group, especially if it's calibrated to the season. This sparkling version makes use of the French aperitif Lillet Rosé, which is flavored with sweet and bitter orange peel and fruit liqueurs. Grapefruit adds crisp tartness, and fresh mint adds aroma.
Lemon Balm Lavender Tisane
It's great to plan for a non-alcoholic option beyond coffee. This iced tisane is an extra-refreshing option, flavored with lemon balm (a member of the mint family) and fresh lavender (leaves and all.)
Black Peppercorn Limeade
The humble black peppercorn is totally transformed when steeped in a simple syrup. It's much more spicy than you'd expect and seriously complex. Fresh-squeezed lime juice brings out the bright citrusy notes of the pepper in this tasty limeade.
Mint Shiso Tisane
Go beyond standard mint tea with this iced tisane, made with mint and its cousin, slightly fennely shiso. Look for shiso leaves in Asian markets or at your local farmers market.