There are a few different ways to approach brunch. For some, it’s a big meal served early in the day to fuel productivity—shopping, exploring, hiking, you name it. For others, it’s a much-needed first step on the road to hangover recovery. Regardless of the underlying reason for those pancakes and bacon, there are a few staple drinks we’ve come to associate with the best meal of the day: Bloody Marys, mimosas, and Screwdrivers, for starters. But it’s no coincidence that we choose certain drinks to pair with the most important meal of the day. We stopped by Cambridge’s French-inspired restaurant Les Sablons to chat with their cocktail master, Jackson Cannon, about the rhyme and reason behind boozy brunch.

What sets brunch cocktails apart?

Jackson says hydration and renewal are a core part of what makes certain cocktails so fitting for brunch—it’s why we’re not going for tequila shots or a gin and tonic at 11 a.m. “Most of the traditional brunch cocktails balance an early morning nutritional component with that ancient remedy of the hair of the dog”, he says. “So while they’re not as strong and boozy as others, they bring citrus, champagne, and clear spirits to you, often with ice melting in some more water.”

So what should the ideal brunch line-up look like?

Think you have to choose just one drink to accompany your entree? Think again! Even if multiple mugs and glasses won’t fit in your Instagram shot, Jackson says brunch is all about the beverages. He recommends a minimum of three—water, coffee or tea, and of course, your cocktail of choice.


Let’s talk specifics—which foods go best with brunch cocktails?

Tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish…are you getting the picture yet? The most revered (and by some, despised) brunch cocktail is the Bloody Mary—Jackson says its invention is routed in the hangover recovery lore of the great Ernest Hemingway himself!

After the initial Bloody Mary (whether it’s a fun experience or one to just gulp down as quickly as possibly), Jackson suggests the mimosa or Salty Dog. “I recommend moving into crisp white or rose and cider for salads, seafood, and other light brunch style items”, he says.

If you need a little something extra—maybe you’re fighting off a hangover for the ages, or maybe you’re just a little hungry—you should be thinking chicken and waffles, biscuits, or gravy. With heavier Southern soul food or spicy dishes, Jackson points guests toward sweeter wines or lush sour beers.

What’s an unexpected twist on boozy brunch that you love?

Get ready for this one (you won’t see it coming, and chances are you haven’t tried it yourself): “Red wine at brunch. I love Chianti and scrambled eggs!”

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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