Upgrade Your Weekend Brunch with this Buffet-Style Feast
While there’s nothing quite like brunch, the idea of going out for eggs bennies on a beautiful summer day isn’t that original. Avoid crowded sidewalk cafes and alfresco patios this weekend by hosting brunch at home.
With a little planning, you can set out a full buffet spread that’ll feed you and your closest friends, with build-your-own-plate bites and big batch, savory cocktails that’ll wash it all down. Boring Bloody Mary’s these are not: Boasting big flavors and incorporating the hottest trends in the mixology world, these sips will have your guests toasting your hosting skills in no time.
When we heard Matthew Biancaniello, bartender at Pot Lobby Bar in Los Angeles, was slinging a drink with hops-infused vodka and, um, carrot juice, we rolled our eyes. Then we sipped it. Savory yet subtly sweet, the mix of veggie juice, acidic lime and earthy hops creates a flavor that literally tastes the way a spring vegetable garden smells. Look out bloody mary, there’s a new brunch drink on the menu.
About the Bar
Part of Roy Choi’s Pot restaurant inside The Line Hotel, Pot Lobby Bar is a must-visit for any cocktail aficionado. Be prepared to have your palate challenged well beyond mere carrot juice, with drinks infused with sea-urchin roe and even a Soju-kimchi mash-up.
- 2 ounces Anchor Distilling Hophead Hop Vodka
- 2 ounces fresh carrot juice
- ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
- ¾ ounce agave syrup
- Pinch of sea salt, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, combine all the ingredients with ice, except salt. Shake vigorously, and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a pinch of sea salt on top.
Recipe courtesy Nick Crutchfield, bartender, Commonwealth Restaurant and Skybar, Charlottesville, Virginia
- 1 ounce La Puritita Verdá mezcal
- ½ ounce brown sugar simple syrup
- ¼ ounce Green Chartreuse
- ¾ ounce Zucca Amaro
- 3 ounces hot dark roast black coffee
- Whipped cream, grated orange zest and Sal de Guisano (optional), for garnish.
Mix the ingredients together in a mug. Top with freshly whipped non-sweetened cream and grated orange zest. Dust with Sal de Guisano.
Philippe Gouze describes this briny, bracing martini as an homage to Marseille, the French seaside city where he spent many summers as a child, and where Noilly Prat is produced. “The sound of the wind and ocean inspired me to make a cocktail that brings a sense of the area,” he explained. The area is famed for its oysters, while thyme, savory and marjoram grow wild in the countryside; both elements are incorporated into this refreshing, herbal drink. Even the oyster-water foam evokes the froth of the sea.
- 4 ounces vodka
- Fresh lemon
- 1 oyster
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 egg white
- 2 ounces Noilly Prat Dry
Muddle the vodka with lemon thyme, then strain.
Shuck the oyster, reserving and straining the water from within the oyster shell. Mix the oyster water with lemon juice and egg white, and whip into a foam.
Shake the infused vodka and Noilly Prat with ice, and strain into a martini glass. Top with the oyster water foam. Garnish with oyster and a fresh sprig of thyme.
*Note—this is a double-sized martini, so drink with caution!
Farmers’ markets are the new stomping grounds for mixologists searching for fresh ingredients—and inspiration—for the latest cocktails.
- 2 sage leaves, plus additional for garnish
- ¾ ounce dark amber maple syrup
- ¾ ounce lemon juice
- 1 egg white
- 2½ ounces Hudson Baby Bourbon Whiskey
Muddle the two sage leaves with the maple syrup and lemon juice. Add the egg white. Dry shake (without ice) until the egg white is emulsified. Add the Bourbon. Top with ice and shake hard for 10 seconds. Strain the cocktail into a lowball glass filled with new ice. Garnish with the remaining sage.
Recipe courtesy of Casey Robison, Barrio Mexican Kitchen & Bar, Seattle, Washington
If your guests crave a savory hop-tail, try this Mexican classic. The Michelada melds a Bloody Mary with Mexican light-style ale, while its salted rim gives a small nod to the country’s other signature drink: the margarita. You can also set up a build-your-own Michelada bar, keeping ingredients like tomato juice and garnishes (cucumber slices, celery spears and jalapeños) within reach.
- 1¾ ounces traditional sangrita*
- ½ ounce fresh lime juice
- Mexican lager (such as Sol, Carta Blanca or Modelo Especial) to top
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 lime wedge, for garnish, plus 1 lime wedge for rimming the glass
- ¼ cup rimming salt
- Other garnishes (optional), like cucumber, olive or pickled green beans
Pour the rimming salt into a small glass bowl. Rub a lime wedge over half of the outside of a Mason jar or highball glass, then rim the glass by dipping it in the salt. Add the sangrita and lime juice and stir. Fill the glass with ice, and top with the Mexican lager. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste, and garnish as desired.
- 2 ounces tomato juice
- 2 ounces fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- ½ ounce Tapatió hot sauce
- ½ ounce Tiger Sauce
- ¼ ounce salt
- ¼ ounce black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until well incorporated.
*While the recipe can be divided to make a smaller batch, Robison advises to use these measurements.
A handful of self-respecting barkeeps like Naren Young are reinventing the brunch favorite—the Bloody Mary—with fresh veggies, different liquors (or none at all) and garnishes that actually serve a purpose beyond a high calorie count.
- 1 750-ml bottle of 100% agave blanco Tequila
- 1 liter tomatillo juice
- 6 ounces green bell pepper juice
- 6 ounces cucumber juice
- 6 ounces celery juice
- 4 ounces lime juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 ounce white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon horseradish
- 2 ounces green Tabasco sauce
Mix everything in a pitcher and refrigerate for 2 hours. Pour into long glasses over ice. Garnish with a long cucumber slice. Makes 25 servings.
Recipe courtesy Bar Congress, Austin, TX
This slightly fizzy-yet-savory cocktail will perk up your brunch.
- 1½ ounce Yamazaki Whisky
- 1 red radish, cut into chunks
- 1 teaspoon light miso paste
- ½ ounce honey syrup
- 3 ounces San Pellegrino Limonata soda
For syrup, combine equal parts honey and hot water, let cool. For the drink, shake all but the soda, strain over fresh ice. Top with soda and radish.
Recipe courtesy Do or Dine, Brooklyn, New York
Whether it’s for brunch, dinner, having friends over to watch the game or watching a movie and eating them all yourself, these overnight-braised tacos from Do or Dine combine a great way to get some use out of your slow-cooker while simultaneously reminding everyone that tacos are basically always a great idea at any time.
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 2 pounds beef bottom round roast
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 bell peppers, sliced
- 2 jalapeños, julienned
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 1 cup of a robust red wine
- 2–4 cups beef stock
- 1 dozen eggs, scrambled
- 12 corn tortillas, heated
- 1 bunch of cilantro
Rub the spices and salt onto the roast. Heat the oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the garlic, onion, peppers and jalapeños, and cook for about 5 minutes. Place the veggies in a slow cooker.
Sear both sides of the roast for 2 minutes in the skillet. Then place it and the carrot in the cooker. Add any loose rub spices to the skillet and deglaze with wine, then add it all to the cooker. Pour enough beef stock into the cooker to cover the roast. Cover, and cook on low for 6–8 hours overnight.
In the morning, remove the roast and shred with a fork. To build your tacos, add eggs first, then beef, then the veggies. Top with cilantro. Serves 12.
Any red wine that takes a few hours to open up will suffice. That way, you can use it to cook and by serving time, the wine is at its peak. One that worked well in our test kitchen was the 2012 A Tribute To Grace Grenache, from Santa Barbara County. While prepping the beef, the wine was lean and tight with little fruit, and big green-olive aromas. Hours later, it was exploding with both scents and flavors of cherry and raspberry.
Break out of your eggs benedict brunch rut with this Riesling-friendly, duck-sausage take on the Bahn Mifrom Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller, owners of The Fatted Calf in San Francisco and authors of In the Charcuterie.
- For the duck sausage:
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless duck meat, ground
- 10 ounces pork back fat, ground
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon shallot, minced
- 1 tablespoon lemongrass, minced
- 1½ teaspoons ginger, peeled and grated
- 1½ teaspoons garlic, minced
- 8 6-inch lemongrass stalks to use as skewers
- For the spicy mayo:
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 3 teaspoons Sriracha
- To assemble the sandwich:
- 1 French baguette, halved and cut into 8 pieces
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 jalapeños, sliced
- 1 bunch fresh mint leaves
- 2 carrots, grated
Combine the duck ingredients (minus the skewers) in a large bowl and mix by hand for 2 minutes. Divide into 8 equal portions and form patties around the lemongrass stalk skewers. Cook on a medium-hot grill for 3 minutes per side. Remove from grill and take out the skewers. Stir together the mayo and Sriracha and spread it on the bottom of each baguette. Add the duck. Pile on a heavy pinch of grated carrots, then add the cilantro, sliced jalapeños and mint leaves, to taste. Place the top baguette slice over it all and plate. Serves 8.
This spicy lobster brunch dish from Chad Johnson, executive chef at Élevage in Tampa, Florida, is the perfect pair for your favorite pink drink.
- ½ pound butter
- ½ cup roasted tomatillos
- 1 roasted jalapeño
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 spiny lobster tails, removed from shell (about 6–8 ounces each)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup tomato concassé (peeled, seeded and diced tomato)
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil
- 3 tablespoons capers
- 8 eggs
- 4 slices toasted brioche
Heat the butter over medium heat until it foams. In the meantime, place the tomatillos, jalapeño, mustard, lime juice and egg yolks in a blender. Purée until smooth. Slowly drizzle the hot butter into the blender while running until it emulsifies. Pour the sauce through a strainer into a stove-safe bowl and keep warm.
Warm the olive oil over medium heat, and add the tomato, basil and capers. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the tomatoes release juice.
Soft-poach the 8 eggs and set aside, keeping warm.
Slice spiny lobster tails into ¼-inch-thick medallions. Add the lobster medallions to the tomato sauce and cook until they’re opaque. Remove from heat.
To plate, layer the lobster atop a slice of toasted brioche and spoon the tomato sauce over. Place two poached eggs on top of each slice of brioche and drizzle with the emulsion. Serves 4.
The ripe fruit core of strawberry, raspberry and mango are fresh and juicy yet structured by subtle tannins. The moderate acidity will cut through the fatty eggs and emulsion, while the earthy spice accents will complement the dish’s herbs. —Lauren Buzzeo
Scott Klann is the winemaker behind Zinfandel-focused Newsome-Harlow; his wife Melanie—whom he refers to affectionately as Melly—is a chef. Based in the Calaveras County town of Murphys, together they know their wine and food, honing in on great vineyard sites throughout the Foothills and offering companionable bites from their tasting room kitchen. Great entertainers, they prefer to keep things casual, gathering around the bocce court in their backyard or meeting friends in Murphys Park for an all-day hang out. Even in spring and fall their style of entertaining leans more towards the outdoors.
Recreate the Region
Starts off with some charcuterie and cheeses and then mostly involves grilling munchables such as one of Melanie’s grilled pizzettas. Lately Melly has been making her own krauts as well. The last batch was krauts of beet ginger, cabbage and fresh fennel stalk.
Spring/summer/fall is outdoors and airy. Winter meals usually start and end in the kitchen with the middle portion spent around a dinner table decorated with Melanie’s hand-crafted décor, usually sticks, branches and leaves put together in a fashionable display.
Evening entertaining generally moves back and forth between trip-hop, groove and electronica and also a mix of ‘80s music like Joy Division, The Smiths and The Cure peppered with smart stuff like Yo La Tengo. Some nights it’s old-school punk. Daytime entertaining focuses on guitar-oriented southern rock from bands like Lucero and some JJ Grey & Mofro.
Daytime and evening parties generally start with high-acidity whites and rosé wines with very low alcohol like Vinho Verdes and Txakolis. For dinner, selections typically move on to light- to medium-bodied reds like Pinots and Grenaches, or beyond to cool-climate Syrahs such as Hermitage and Côtes du Rhône. Often they’ll do cocktails; Scott’s a brown American whiskey fan and leans towards Bourbon and rye.
Newsome-Harlow 2009 Big John, Big John’s Vineyard Zin Zinfandel (Calaveras County)
- 7½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4½ tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sliced fresh mint leaves
- 1½ tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 6 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1 pound fresh pizza dough
- 5 tablespoons pomegranate-cumin dressing
- 1 cup coarsely grated Fontina cheese
- Fresh arugula
- 2 sausages, grilled and sliced into 1⁄3 inch thick rounds
- 6 fresh figs, quartered
- 2 thin red onion slices, rings separated
- 1 cup goat cheese
Preheat a grill to medium-high heat. Prepare the pomegranate sauce by combining the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mint, pomegranate molasses, cumin and shallot.
Split the dough in half, and roll out into two 10-inch rounds. Brush the rounds with some of the pomegranate sauce.
Grill the pizzettas, seasoned side down, until golden on bottom, about 4 minutes. Turn the pizzettas over, and top with Fontina, arugula, sausages, figs and onions. Drizzle with more pomegranate sauce.
Cover and grill until the Fontina melts and the pizzettas are cooked through, about 4 minutes.
Top with goat cheese, and grill until cheese softens, about 1 minute. Top with fresh arugula. Serves 6.
Pair with a Newsome-Harlow Big John Zinfandel (Calaveras County).
Apple butter and sugary fried dough—two American staples since before the Revolution—come together in this mouthwatering mash-up from Chef Harrison Keevil of Brookville Restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia. Best part: It takes 10 minutes to make a dozen of these fall fritters. Take that NYC, with your four-hour Cronut line.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3 eggs
- ⅔ cup milk
- Cinnamon and sugar, to taste
- 2 cups apple butter
Mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together in a bowl. Combine the eggs and milk in a separate bowl, then combine together the two bowls to create batter.
Using a 1½-tablespoons ice cream scoop, ball and fry the batter in a 325˚F fryer and cook for 4 minutes on each side. No fryer? Then fill a pot one-quarter full with vegetable oil and place over medium heat to fry.
Once fried, place the doughnuts on paper towels to absorb excess oil and season with cinnamon and sugar. Using a squeeze bottle or baster insert apple butter into the center of each doughnut. Serves 4.
Chef Keevil suggests Virginia’s unique Foggy Ridge Pippin Gold Cider to pair with the apple-filled doughnuts. “It’s a hard cider fortified with apple brandy from Laird & Company, the country’s oldest distiller,” says Keevil. “Hey, I love to pair apples with apples!“
- 1Brunch-friendly Hops Cocktail
- 2Cafe con Alma
- 3Marseillan Martini
- 4Maple Sage Bourbon
- 5Traditional Michelada
- 6Maria Verde
- 7Miso Mule Radish Cocktail
- 8Braised-Beef Tacos
- 9Banh Mi Brunch Recipe
- 10Lobster Eggs Benedict
- 11This Grilled Pizzetta is the Perfect Alfresco Snack
- 12Apple-Butter Doughnuts