Complete List Of Brunch Cocktails Ranked

There is no better way to kick off the weekend than by waking up late and enjoying a leisurely brunch. And what brunch is complete without a cocktail? Whether sitting down to bottomless mimosas or sipping on a craft creation, brunch isn't really brunch until a fancy drink is served. In the wide world of brunch cocktails, there are some that are noticeably better than others. These concoctions can range from fruity and refreshing to deep and warming and everything in between. To help sort through all the options, we have compiled a list of all the brunch cocktails and ranked them — because no one wants to pair their brunch with a lousy cocktail.

So what makes a good cocktail? As brunch is a leisurely endeavor, your cocktail should complement the pace of your meal. It should not be so concentrated you can only have one, or too weak that you feel you need too many. It should also radiate the meal's festive vibe. Brunch is a special occasion, and the cocktail should match that energy. But it shouldn't be too complicated. After all, if you make your brunch cocktails at home, you don't want to be too put out. These aspects come together in our search for the perfect brunch cocktail.

20. Frozen mudslide

If you are the kind of person who goes to Starbucks before work and orders a venti mocha frappuccino with extra whipped cream, then this cocktail is for you. Otherwise, the frozen mudslide will likely be too much sugar to start your day with.

According to the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA), the mudslide consists of Kahlua (coffee liqueur), Bailey's Irish Cream, and vodka. The Sip Awards notes that the frozen version of the drink also includes ice cream — so you're literally drinking a boozy milkshake. It was invented in the 1970s at the Wreck Bar and Grill in the Cayman Islands, where guests would ask for white Russians (per CITA). The bartender didn't have cream, but made do with Bailey's — and thus, the mudslide was born. 

The mudslide is not the most common drink to see on a brunch menu — and we can see why. It is, essentially, a dessert. It may be served as a brunch cocktail every now and then, but we have to wonder how anyone can start their day with one of these, and then still have room for brunch.

19. Bloody Mary

If you like drinking tomato sauce for brunch, then you will love this cocktail. We're kidding — sort of. Bloody Marys are made with hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and lemon juice, all added to a base of tomato juice and vodka (via Difford's Guide.) There are two competing stories about how this cocktail came to be. The first is that Fernand Petiot, a barman at what became the famous Harry's New York Bar in Paris, created the cocktail in the early 1920s. The second is that film star George Jessel was out so late that it became morning again. One of the people he was with brought out an old and dusty bottle of vodka. After smelling it, Jessel decided to try and hide the putrid smell of the vodka with tomato juice.

As with many stories, there is a grain of truth in each. Petiot actually acknowledged Jessel as the first person to put vodka with tomato juice, but argued that a bloody mary is much more than that, and claimed that he is the one who added all the other ingredients that brought the cocktail to life.

The cocktail can be spiced up or adapted to fit the drinker's preference, and it has the bonus of not being too sweet, which makes it a good option for those looking for a savory cocktail. However, it may bear more than a passing resemblance to drinking a can of Campbell's tomato soup with vodka, which prevents it from being ranked higher on our list.

18. Tequila sunrise

The tequila sunrise is somewhat of a newcomer on the cocktail scene. Tequila company Tres Agaves cited the 1930s as the origins of the tequila sunrise, when a drink consisting of tequila, lime juice, and soda water came to be called a "tequila sunrise." Similarly, mentions a drink of lemon juice, tequila, seltzer water, and flavored liquors that showed up in 1939.

The drink continued to evolve until it became the tequila, orange juice, and grenadine concoction we know today. The grenadine is heavy and falls to the bottom of the drink, creating a gradient of yellow and red that resembles a sunrise. No one is quite sure how the final iteration of the cocktail came about, but in the 1970s, it found its niche as a favorite of the rock bands the Rolling Stones and the Eagles, the latter of which named a song for the cocktail.

The cocktail is fruity and looks lovely, but owing to the nature of the sunrise effect, it can also taste unbalanced. Either the drinker must consistently stir the cocktail, ruining the look, or they will sip straight grenadine from the straw for a while. So while it is not a terrible brunch option, we don't feel we should have to work for our cocktail.

17. Screwdriver

Talk about an easy cocktail. Screwdrivers are comprised of two simple ingredients: vodka and orange juice (via Business Insider).

The cocktail reportedly gets its name from oil workers who were adding vodka to their orange juice on the job. Since none of them had a bar spoon with them, rather than leave the cocktail unmixed, they opted to use a screwdriver to mix the cocktail.

It's a fun and silly origin story, but doesn't do much to make the drink more fun. While it can be an excellent option for those looking to kick their regular glass of orange juice up a notch, it can appear a little boring and noticeably less festive than its carbonated cousin, the mimosa. Although the screwdriver isn't bubbly like the popular mimosa, it is similarly easy to make and offers a more powerful kick, since it uses vodka instead of sparkling wine as its alcohol.

16. Daiquiri

Most people think of daiquiris in their frozen form, but according to Difford's Guide, the original recipe was a simple combination of rum, lime juice, and sugar. Unlike a lot of drink history, the origins of this cocktail are not shrouded in mystery. Instead, copies of the original written recipe in American engineer Jenning Cox's own hand still exist today. However, as Eater notes, Cox may not have been the creator: It's possible the cocktail already existed in Cuba, and Cox was simply the first to write it down. Regardless, during the early 20th century, the cocktail was enjoyed in Cuba before gaining popularity in the United States.

In the 1920s, a bar in Havana created the frozen version of the drink. It was essentially the original drink recipe, but poured over shaved ice, forming a slushy-like consistency. This version was an instant hit, with bar regular Ernest Hemingway reportedly drinking 15 of them in one day.

Either neat or frozen, the daiquiri is strong and not too sweet. It would be excellent on a hot summer day — but it may be a bit strong to start off a brunch trip.

15. French 75

Who doesn't want to start their brunch off with a cocktail with literary ties? And for the first time on this list, it's not a reference to Ernest Hemingway. Instead, the French 75 finds its roots in famed author Charles Dickens (via

The French 75 is a cocktail made of champagne, sugar, and lemon juice, and topped with dry gin. In 1867, before the cocktail had a name or public notoriety, Charles Dickens was known for drinking a combination of "Tom gin and champagne cups" while he was staying at the Parker House hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. Champagne cups are champagne, citrus, and sugar, over ice. Add gin, and you've got a French 75. While the first time a recipe under the name French 75 showed up wasn't until 1927 during American prohibition, but it seems clear the cocktail was being made prior to that.

Bubbly cocktails can be found all over this list. They seem to capture the hearts (and stomachs) of brunchers everywhere with their festive, fruity nature. While this one is a bit dry thanks to the addition of the gin, it is a solid choice for brunch, though not the best of sparkling wine cocktails out there.

14. Bellini

Bellinis are peachy keen. This drink is made with sparkling wine and peach puree (via Total Wine.) At this point, you might be noticing a trend when it comes to brunch cocktails: There's a lot of recipes that involve inserting-fruit-here and mixing with sparkling wine.

Bellinis slightly differentiate themselves by traditionally using prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine. This is because, according to Eataly, the drink was created at the famous Harry's Bar in Venice, Italy. The bar was frequented by many noted historical figures, including the great writer and drinker Ernest Hemingway. The bar's owner, Giuseppe Cipriani, created the drink in 1948 as a way to utilize the fresh peaches and sparkling wines the region was known for. The cocktail got its name from Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini, who prominently used a color similar to the cocktail.

The Bellini is a light and fruity cocktail sure to delight the drinker's palate. This is an excellent brunch cocktail if fresh peaches and good sparkling wine are available, but it can suffer for a lack of either.

13. Shandy

Beer cocktails have been made in various countries for a long time. In 1920s Bavaria, a low beer supply caused a local bartender to cut his beer with lemonade in order to keep up with demand (via Eater). This drink was called the Radler. Further back, in 1850s England, there was already a drink called a "shandy gaff," a combination of beer and ginger ale.

No matter what you call it, these lightly beer-infused combos are perfect for a hot summer morning. They tend to be less alcoholic than other options, with some variations coming in at just 2% alcohol. This can be either a positive or negative depending on your point of view. While a bartender can pour and mix their own, shandies are now widely available in canned and bottled varieties. So whether you are at a restaurant or eating at home, these are easy cocktails to have on hand for brunch. The biggest downside is that they don't add much to the ambiance of the event. 

12. Spritz

The spritz is more of a genre of a cocktail than a specific drink itself. That is because, as Difford's Guide notes, while the general formula for the cocktail stays the same, there is a lot of variation in what specifically is used and in what quantities.

The cocktail originated in Venice while it was part of the Austrian empire. The cocktail typically starts with a white wine base. This can be either plain white wine or, more commonly, a sparkling wine like prosecco. Next is the addition of a bitter liquor such as Aperol, but even this can vary depending on taste and availability. Finally, the cocktail is finished with a splash of soda water. 

The spritz is a decent brunch cocktail. It is incredibly adaptable and can be made to suit the taste of the drinker. Because it is such an open-ended recipe, there is no need to go out and buy something incredibly specific if serving it with brunch at home. But it is fancy enough you won't feel bad spending money on it at a restaurant. The downside to the spritz is that bitter liquors tend to have a prominent flavor, which may clash with the brunch food.

11. Irish coffee

Americans love coffee. In fact, according to the National Coffee Association, the average American coffee drinker consumes three cups of coffee per day. That being the case, what morning could be complete without a cup of this beautiful caffeinated beverage? So it just makes sense to throw in a little something extra in the form of alcohol to make this a solid brunch cocktail choice.

According to Matador Network, the drink was initially created in 1943 by Joe Sheridan, a bartender at an airport terminal in Limerick, Ireland. Legend has it that when a plane had to turn around and return to the terminal, Sheridan greeted its passengers with cups of hot coffee spiked with Irish whiskey and topped with rich cream. The bar decided to make it a customary drink and served it to arriving travelers. A taste for the drink spread to America, and bars across the country began making their own versions of the drink.

The main problem with Irish coffee is that while it is relatively simple to make, it is less simple to make right. Jack Keoppler of the Buena Vista bar in San Francisco spent years trying to recreate the perfect Irish coffee, before finally just hiring Joe Sheridan as a bartender. If a good Irish coffee is available, it can provide all the warmth and caffeine boost a person needs for brunch, but if not, it can lead to disappointment.

10. Michelada

Micheladas are a sort of shandy and bloody mary hybrid. According to the Los Angeles Times, a michelada starts with a Mexican beer. To that, you add lime juice, hot sauce, soy sauce, black pepper, and Maggi seasoning, plus a salted rim. Tales of the Cocktail also notes that sometimes Worcestershire sauce is used. Another version of the drink omits spices and sauces and uses simply lemon juice and beer. Either way, you end up with a refreshing beer-based cocktail. 

The drink started its life in Mexico, but has gained popularity on brunch menus in the United States in recent years. It benefits the restaurant, as many don't need a full liquor license to serve beer. Patrons get a cool, refreshing drink that offers many of the savory flavors of a bloody mary — without having to drink tomato soup as a cocktail. Talk about a huge step up.

9. Chapman mocktail

The interesting thing about the Chapman cocktail is that it first came to prominence as a mocktail. According to BusinessDay, the cocktail was invented by Samuel Alamutu, a hotelier in Nigeria. Alamutu had a taste for fine wine and loved taking his family and friends out and treating them. His wife, however, never partook in alcohol, preferring soft drinks and soda. A devoted husband, Alamutu created a non-alcoholic beverage for his wife consisting of lemon and orange juice with a dash of angostura bitters. He garnished the drink with cucumber and lemon for extra flare, and topped it with a cherry.

The drink was a huge success and spread throughout hotels around the world, gaining popularity. Versions of the cocktail now include different syrups and can even be spiked with hard liquors like gin. However you like it, the Chapman is a fun, fruity cocktail that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

8. Mojito

The mojito finds its origins all the way back in 1586 (via Difford's Guide). It likely originated as a drink called the Draque, made from a cane sugar-based spirit called aguardiente, as well as lime juice, mint, and sugar. The drink was named after a privateer, Frances Drake, sent by Queen Elizabeth I to steal gold from the Americas. The drink was used for its medicinal purposes, and when a cholera epidemic hit Havana in 1833, author Ramon de Paula wrote, that he drank the cocktail every day at 11 o'clock, and that he was in good health.

Around the mid-1800s, the Bacardi company was established, and the recipe for the drink was changed to use rum instead of aguardiente. The new drink was called a mojito and was prominently featured in the company's advertising.

This is a cool and refreshing brunch drink. It may be on the strong side, but hey, people have been drinking it for centuries, so who are we to argue? It is good for one's health, after all.

7. Sea breeze

Sea breeze cocktails contain not one but two classic breakfast juices: cranberry juice and grapefruit juice (via As such, how could it not find a place of prominence on this list? Simply add vodka, and suddenly you've got a full-fledged brunch cocktail.

The sea breeze, as we know it, likely came from the cranberry giant, Ocean Spray. The 1960s saw a slight panic about cranberries when it was found that some cranberries had herbicides on them known to cause cancer. It was recommended that Americans stop eating cranberries if they couldn't be sure of their origins. In an attempt to boost cranberry sales, Ocean Spray released recipes that utilized cranberries — which of course included cocktails. While many variations of the cocktail under the name "sea breeze" have come and gone over the years, what is left is a simple drinkable concoction perfect for the brunch table. It is a cocktail that elicits a sunny beach vacation and relaxation.

6. Margarita

Margaritas are fabulous drinks; they are a little sweet, a little salty, and very boozy. A classic margarita is just lime juice, orange liqueur, tequila, and a salted rim (via Smithsonian Magazine). 

Many people have claimed to be the of inventor of this drink. Owner and bartender Carlos "Danny" Herrera claims to have created the drink in his Tijuana restaurant in 1938. Socialite Margarita Sames also claimed to have invented the drink in 1948, but this has been largely debunked, as a 1945 tequila ad ran with the tagline, "Margarita: it's more than a girl's name."

No matter what the origin of the margarita, this cocktail is hard to beat. And with the innovation of the frozen margarita in the 1970s, a whole new way to enjoy the cocktail was born. With its perfectly balanced flavors, it is not too sweet and pairs well with either sweet brunch fare like waffles, or savory items like breakfast burritos.

5. Sangria

Mixing wine with fruits and spices is not a new concept. The ancient Romans and Greeks made a drink which was just that, called "hippocras," according to Vinepair. They weren't the only ones with the same idea: Versions of spiced and fruity wine show up in Spain as far back as 1100 B.C.

Sangria, which is Spanish for "blood," is a reference to the red color of the wine used to make the cocktail. But as Vinepair notes, sangria varies dramatically and doesn't have to use red wine. As sangria spread in popularity around Europe and the United States, variations using different types of wines and fruits popped up. In the E.U. today, store-bought sangria must be from Spain, but many make it at home. This gives the drinker/maker the opportunity to customize the drink however they'd like, and with whatever they happen to have on hand. Sangria is easy to make in large quantities, and is deeply fruity, making it a high-ranking brunch cocktail.

4. Mimosa

Who hasn't been to a brunch that offers bottomless mimosas? This classic cocktail practically screams "brunch." According to Difford's Guide, the mimosa is a simple 50/50 combination of orange juice and champagne. Other similar cocktails, such as the Buck's fizz, are only distinguished due to a slightly higher concentration of champagne to orange juice. The Buck's fizz is said to date back to 1921 at Buck's Club in London, England, and the mimosa apparently originated four years later in 1925 at the Ritz Hotel in Paris. During the following decades, recipes for cocktails containing orange juice and champagne began showing up in popular cocktail books.

According to Chilled, there is a rumor that famed director Alfred Hitchcock invented the recipe in the 1940s, but as other recipes predate this, that is not the case. However, the Oxford Companion of American Food and Drink credits him for popularizing the drink as a brunch staple.

The cocktail is easy to make in either single or large batches and gives the drinker a healthy kick of vitamin C. In addition, the sparkling wine gives a feeling of grandeur to the meal, making this one of the best brunch cocktails there is.

3. Gin fizz

What says brunch more than a hot summer day? Well, those are the days the gin fizz is made for. According to the U.K. Bartenders Guild, the first recipe of the cocktail premiered in 1880 and called them "the proper thing for this beastly weather." After its print primer, the gin fizz spread in popularity around the United States, where it originated. Various versions came into being, but the classic version remains a mix of lemon juice, sugar, soda water, and gin, all poured over ice. If that doesn't sound refreshing on a hot day, nothing will.

During prohibition, bartenders flocked to Europe and other parts of the world and brought with them their cocktails — including the gin fizz. It is no wonder that this drink has become such a great choice for a brunch cocktail. It's been cooling people off around the world for over 100 years. With its simple ingredients, it pairs well with everything and provides a bit of effervescence to get a person going in the morning.

2. Kir royale

According to Post Magazine, the kir royal is typically considered an aperitif, or a drink served before a meal. But this light and fruity drink makes a perfect companion to any brunch menu. It is simplicity at its finest. Just combine crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) with champagne or white wine, and you have the cocktail. It is similar to the popular mimosa cocktail, but swaps our orange juice with a fruity liqueur.

The drink was invented after World War II by Catholic priest and French resistance hero Felix Kir. Originally the cocktail was made with dry white wine from Burgundy. However, it is said that Kir was using the crème de cassis as a way to disguise the fact that the white wine was not of the best quality. Either way, the drink caught on as Kir served it to dignitaries from around the world.

Today, while the drink is often made with crème de cassis, it is also acceptable to make it with other flavorings and liqueurs. These added flavors make the drink delicious and flexible to the drinker's taste and possibly, dare we say, makes it more interesting than the mimosa.

1. Paloma

We love a margarita; who doesn't? But in Mexico, the birthplace of the cocktail, the grapefruit-based paloma is the real star (via Drinking Magazine).

Palomas are made with a similar base to that of the margarita. They use the classically amazing combination of lime juice and tequila. The paloma diverges in its use of grapefruit soda. There is no definitive history for the paloma, but it is thought to have originated in the mid-20th century with the invention of grapefruit soda. The soft drink gives the cocktail a pleasant fizz and dilutes the tequila, making it taste a little less strong than a margarita. This mixture provides a much lighter and more refreshing drink that actually works better as a brunch cocktail than its cousin, the margarita. The cocktail allows the drinker to take large sips in between bites of food without worrying about drinking too much. The cocktail isn't too sweet, and as we know, bubbly cocktails have a strong hold on this list. With its use of grapefruit, fizz, and just enough alcohol, the paloma is a perfectly balanced brunch cocktail.