“Sunday brunch” used to be just that—a midday meal with a Mimosa or Bloody Mary. But these days, Champagne brunches pack a punch, blending Studio 54-esque excess with supper club-style fine wine and food. If these brunches are any indication, the pre-Recession, bottle-service days seem to be making a comeback.
Manhattanites would argue that they invented the “club brunch” concept, where brunches of all kinds are a weekend dining and drinking institution. Brothers Derek and Daniel Koch have been running “day parties” in Manhattan and the Hamptons since 2008. Their Day and Night brunches, as they’re called, are known for creating fireworks (literally, as sparklers appear in Champagne magnums), drawing in celebrities, such as Kevin Spacey and Chase Thornhill, and encouraging general debauchery before 3 pm. The parties have popped up at famous New York restaurants including the Plaza Hotel’s Oak Room, along with newcomers MPD and Revel, which boasts a retractable roof. Food comes second place to the scene at these gatherings; socialites and high rollers have no problem splurging on Champagne or rosé still wines, like Domaine Bertaud Belieu, Côtes de Provence.
“We were the first to introduce the Methusalem of rosé to the U.S. and it helped us to create our brand,” says Koch. The next step for the brothers is to take the party to St.-Tropez. “We are happy to bring our New York-style brunch back to St.-Tropez and pay homage to the place where it all started.”
Not to be outdone, ‘Le Grand Brunch’ at chic French eatery Brasserie Beaumarchais (formerly known as Bagatelle) in New York’s meatpacking district can also be credited for putting “club brunch” on Manhattan’s dining map. “Our brunch has become synonymous with not only an awesome party, but fantastic food as well,” says Philip Iordanou, general manager. Le Grand Brunch features a DJ booth, dancing on the tables and, of course, tons of Champagne. Rosé Champagne is a popular choice, and many patrons don’t bat an eyelash spending $450 on magnums of Moët Rosé Imperial or $550 on Ruinart Rosé.
“We think we’re lucky that we’ve been considered leaders in the ‘brunch’ category for all this time. Plus, we have fun every weekend that we’re here, and you can’t beat that,” says Iordanou.
Club brunches aren’t just happening in Manhattan. The trend has spread to Chicago, where “Brunch Bottle Service” at hotspot Mercadito gives diners the vodka or Champagne of their choice to make “El Bloody Marys” and “Mas Mimosas.” Bottles are served with three housemade mixers and a variety of colorful garnishes, turning guests into amateur mixologists at their table. “Brunch is the place to see and be seen in New York. We want to bring that upbeat day-party atmosphere to Chicago,” says Mercadito Managing Partner Alfredo Sandoval. A DJ on Saturdays and dishes like Huevos Ahogados (a take on Eggs Benedict) with poached eggs, corn bread and chipotle-Hollandaise sauce round out the attractions.
For a more tropical take, head to Miami where brunch heats up at Nikki Beach. The weekly “Amazing Sundays” brunch party features resident DJs Felipe Kaval and Bruno, who set an upbeat mood as locals and tourists, some in swimwear, indulge in a buffet-style, seafood-focused lunch on a private beach. The white-on-white décor, private cabanas, lounge beds and VIP treatment beyond Champagne service (massages can be arranged) create an over-the-top experience that seems plucked straight from a music video.
Sunday School at Monarch, located inside the trendy Hotel ZaZa, is Houston’s version of club brunch, and in Texas, it’s apparently go big or go home. The 20-something crowd is served by waitresses who change into multiple costumes throughout the day and serve Champagne and colorful shots in equal proportion. Bottomless Bellinis and Mimosas are on offer, along with eight wines by the glass, served with Southern-inflected dishes like mini-French toast bites and chicken and waffles. Monarch also caters to Millennials who want to learn more about wine with their Summer Wine Series ($45 covers a tasting of five wines), hosted by winemakers such as Andy Erickson, former winemaker of Screaming Eagle, and Robert Foley of Switchback Ridge.
While this list rounds out our top five, The Den in Hollywood, California and The Biltmore in Coral Gables, Florida are also known for their clubby brunches. Keep your eyes peeled for newcomer Rosé in Los Angeles. The St.-Tropez-themed, cocktail-focused brunch party is gearing up to open at the end of July—and might just give Day and Night a run for their money.