There is a lot of heated debate when it comes to naming the best place to go for brunch. And yet it's funny — often it seems as though the restaurants topping their city's (or the country's) "Best Brunch" lists have accompanying cocktail menus that are, well, real snoozers. Next to those perfectly poached eggs or that too-good-for-words plate of fried chicken and waffles, a plain ol' mimosa just loses its sparkle.
Of course (thankfully) there are exceptions — restaurants who've done away with the tired classics and instead come up with drinks that are actually worth getting out of bed on a Sunday for. Here are five favorites.
Publican (Chicago, Ill.)
At this top-ranked restaurant, the quality of the libations list matches that of the food menu. With your pork belly and golden raisin omelette you can try their signature mimosa, which cleverly replaces the traditional Champagne with a light, tart German beer. Also interesting is the Ojos Rojos, a buzz-inducing mixture of Intelligentsia coffee-infused rum, Coca-Cola, and Peychaud's bitters.
Toulouse Petit (Seattle, Wash.)
This Seattle homage to New Orleans' French Quarter is all about encouraging daytime drinking. Quality daytime drinking, that is. Their list's Big Easy-inspired drinks include adaptions on a Hurricane, Sazerac, and a Milk Punch. The real attention-grabber, however, is the Breakfast Flip. This morning-meal-in-a-glass drink combines bacon-flavored vodka with vanilla liqueur, irish cream, and maple syrup. Better still, all of the cocktails are priced under $7 until 5:30 p.m.
Peels (New York, N.Y.)
This young East Village spot has a destination-worthy brunch cocktail list. In addition to "classic" offerings are a slew of original creations. In the mood for a little early afternoon absinthe cocktail with your shrimp and grits? Try the Bond St. Swizzle (gin, orgeat, mint, lime, and absinthe float). Didn't think a martini could be brunch appropriate? Consider the Breakfast Martini, made with gin, lemon juice, and housemade jam. As if that wasn't enough, they also have four specialty "leaded milkshakes" (read: alcoholic) including the Chocolate Whiskey Velvet and the Quiet Kid Root Beer Float.
Lambert's Downtown Barbecue (Austin, Texas)
Clearly, if you've opted to go with barbecue, you're not looking to have a typical brunch experience. Lambert's seems to understand that, given their brunch cocktail offerings. In addition to more familiar creations like the Michelada and the Pimm's Cup are stand-outs like the Sanchez — a puckery, briny mix of vodka with olive juice, pickled jalapeño, and caperberry. Also worth noting are the Arturo (vodka, Kahlua, double espresso, and steamed milk), and the Sour Cherry Rita (Cazadores Blanco, Grand Marnier, brandied cherries, lemon, cherry bitters, and cherry brandy).
Highland Kitchen (Boston, Mass.)
The popular Beantown brunch spot impresses with a tradition-bucking cocktail menu. From the Man's Ruin (rum, orange juice, orange bitters, and ginger beer) or the Chronic Iced Tea (bärenjäger, brandy, and iced tea) to the Airmail (white rum, honey syrup, lime juice, and sparkling wine) there are plenty of interesting options for booze-minded brunch-goers to choose from.