Chances are, you’ll wake up on the morning (or, let’s be honest, afternoon) of Jan. 1 with either a splitting headache, unquenchable thirst, or a bout of mild—or not so mild—nausea. All solvable problems with the help of a New Year’s Day hangover party a.k.a. brunch.
Since New Year’s Eve tends to steal the late December thunder, I love the idea of throwing a morning-after food function that aims to celebrate the season, while mending any ailments suffered from over-imbibing the eve before. Which means that both food and drink will be vital. While some friends will want to load up on carbs, others will attempt to hydrate and replenish nutrients via juice, and/or to chase hair of the dog. So, it’s important to have a variety of bites and drinks on offer.
Last May I published a cocktail book called Day Drinking that celebrates, well, drinking during the day, via low-alcohol tipples––exactly the kind of libations you want to imbibe with early-to-mid day meals. It’s filled with recipes from top bartenders in the U.S. and some from overseas, along with a handful of classics, which I contributed. So many of those libations are prime for brunch, however what that book does not include is food pairings.
So, herein, my thoughts on eats and drinks, which will help you nail a killer New Year’s Day Hangover Party.
1. More is more.
When throwing a brunch party, and really any party in general, I like to offer variety. I’d rather serve many different small dishes, than larger portions of fewer plates. Also, I like to consider waste. What did you eat the evening before that you can repurpose into something the following day? Maybe turn that turkey stuffing into scrambled eggs, or throw that leftover Champagne (leftover Champagne?!) into a cocktail syrup. And on the subject of eggs, try stirring a spoon of miso paste into your next batch of scrambies.
2. People are hungover, so they want carbs.
Pancakes, baked goods, and meat pastries are all your best friends. Also, the great thing about pastries and such is that most can be made in advance. And while it’s common to find sweet baked goods on brunch spreads, don’t forget about savory! A few brunch-appropriate carby things I am obsessing over right now include: Japanese soufflé pancakes (also this old Bon Appetit whipped egg white pancake recipe is killer!) and El Rey’s Sesame Banana Bread. I just returned home from a trip to Argentina where I fell in love with the country’s empanadas. So, these meat pies would be perfect for brunch, too.
3. People are hungover, so they don’t want carbs.
I can’t speak for you, but half the time I when I am hungover I crave carbs, and the other half of the time I feel like my body needs healthy things. Fruit, veggies, etc. So, definitely plan to offer fruit in some capacity, like this orange, pistachio, and orange blossom fruit salad. But, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to consider a veggie-rich grain bowl, too. As someone whose palate totally skews Asian, I also like to serve kimchi, and other pickles. Also, don’t forget to either buy or make (!) your own yogurt (fermenting yogurt at home is sooooooo easy, and very much impresses your friends!). You can prep some toppings like toasted coconut flakes, cardamom-honey, and chia seeds, or simply serve the yogurt with fruit.
4. Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles.
It’s time for bubbles! I love Champagne any place, any time (ahem Krug), and thanks to carbonation and acidity, sparkling wine is especially fit for morning feasts. If you’re serving a fancy wine, don’t ruin it with orange juice. But, if you’re keen to offer a mimosa or bellini, start with a less expensive sparkler, then add in juice. Lately I’ve been interested in exploring bubbles from less-known parts of the world, like England’s Chapel Down, and Brazil’s Salton sparkling brut.
5. For those who don’t like bubbles…
I am not really sure who those people are who don’t like bubbles, certainly no friends of mine. But in the name of variety and options, I also support serving still vino. Whites are the way to go, since these wines tend to be lighter, brighter, and more refreshing than reds, and right now I am particularly keen on Argentinian Torrontes by Piattelli and Bad Brothers—medium-bodied, floral whites perfect for a.m. intoxication. Also, don’t forget about rosé! The pink stuff isn’t just for summer imbibing. Try Napa-based Robert Sinskey’s Vin Gris Rosé.
6. Mixing and muddling.
I have a ton of awesome brunch recipes in Day Drinking, so I’d urge you to snag a copy. A few of my favorites include a grapefruit wine, which I created that’s super simple, and calls for blending rosé with a grapefruit syrup (see recipe below). Another unique brunch tipple, and one that feels healthy thanks to the addition of a spicy ginger syrup, is ginger, spice, and everything nice—a mélange of fresh lemon juice, a honey-ginger syrup, and byrrh, an aromatized wine. And if you want to correct your coffee, consider the Carajillo, a digestif made from a mix of espresso and the saccharine vanilla-citrus-flavored Licor 43. However, I recently tried an improved version that calls for Ancho Reyes (original) in place of Licor 43, and it’s super delicious (recipe below).
7. Juice it Up.
Those who choose to break from booze may partake in juice. If you have a juicer at home, it’s easy to press a batch of the green stuff. Or any other fruit combination you desire. If you don’t own a juicer, you can pick up some pre-pressed juices from Whole Foods or order via Pressed Juicery.
8. And if you don’t feel like cooking … Make it a Caviar party! Let’s say that cooking just isn’t your thing. Ask each of your guests to pick a dish and order off of meal-delivery service Caviar, and have all edibles delivered to your home. It’s a new-age potluck!
5 ounces chilled rosé
1 ounce grapefruit rosemary syrup
1 rosemary sprig, for garnish
Mix both ingredients in a wine glass with ice. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.
Grapefruit Rosemary Syrup
¾ cup water
¼ cup honey
3 springs fresh rosemary
1 piece (3 inches by 1 inch) grapefruit peel
11/2 cups fresh grapefruit juice (from 2 grapefruits), strained to remove pulp and seeds
Combine the water, honey, rosemary, and grapefruit peel in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the syrup has reduced by two-thirds, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Remove and discard the rosemary. Pour the syrup into a glass jar, then add the grapefruit juice. Cover and shake to incorporate.
The Ancho Carajillo
2 ounces Ancho Reyes
2 ounces espresso
ground cinnamon and or/cinnamon sticks, to garnish
Add Ancho Reyes and espresso to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake 15 seconds and strain into a rocks glass with ice. Sprinkle cinnamon atop and decorate with cinnamon sticks if desired.
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.