How To Make a Mimosa
The mimosa is baked into cocktail culture. Synonymous with brunch and enjoyed worldwide, the drink contains just two ingredients, making it all the more important to learn how to make a mimosa correctly.
As with many classic cocktails, the history of the mimosa is murky. Most who dive into its lore will end up in the early 1920s at a London gentleman’s club named Buck’s Club. There, a bartender named Malachy “Pat” McGarry created the venue’s namesake Buck’s Fizz cocktail, which mixed two parts Champagne with one part orange juice. Some early recipes also include a dash of grenadine at the bottom of the glass, creating a visual effect not unlike a Tequila Sunrise, though the cocktail has long since been codified to be just wine and OJ.
However, around the same time, at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, a bartender named Frank Meier began serving a drink he called the mimosa (though, notedly, it’s unknown if he claimed to invent the drink or simply popularized it by serving it at an upscale European bar, and later included it in his 1934 cocktail book The Artistry of Mixing Drinks). This version used orange juice and Champagne in equal parts, diluting the alcohol in comparison to the slightly stronger Buck’s variation.
While it’s impossible to know who the first was to create what we now call the mimosa, the truth is the drink probably predates all published bartenders and social clubs. It’s likely to have been developed organically by residents of French sparkling wine regions, who combined their bubbly with a splash of juice for extra refreshment.
Now, over 100 years since it first began to appear on bar menus, the mimosa remains one of the world’s most popular wine cocktails, and one of the few whose popularity has never seemed to wane.
What is a mimosa?
As the drink only includes two ingredients, the real question when deciding how to make a mimosa recipe is how much of each ingredient to use. Though old bartending manuals and the International Bartenders Association offer exact specifications, the real answer is that you should mix your mimosa to personal taste.
A good rule of thumb is that if using cheaper, or less-nuanced sparkling wine, mix in equal parts wine to orange juice. If using Champagne or higher-end bubbly where you wish to retain as much of the original flavor profile as possible, keep the OJ to about two ounces and top the rest of the glass with sparkling.
Coincidentally, while may restaurants and bars used to make mimosas that consisted of mostly orange juice with just a splash of bubbly on top, as many restaurants have transitioned to freshly squeezed juices it’s often become more time and cost effective to be stingy on the orange juice and double up on cheap, mass-produced sparkling wine.
What’s the best sparkling wine for a mimosa?
If you just want something affordable that will mix well and not break the bank, you can always stick to bottomless-brunch restaurant classics like Mionetto or Andre.
For something different but still affordable, New Mexico-based Gruet’s NV Brut Sparkling brings lemon notes that work well in a mimosa, while Codorníu NV Anna Blanc de Blancs Brut Reserva Sparkling Cava is a blend of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo with citrus and white fruit flavors, and only costs around $15. Freixenet NV Cordon Negro Brut Cava also has notes of nectarine and orange flavors with a backbone of yeast that helps add depth to your fruit-filled combination, and can be found for about $13.
If you’d like to step up your selection for a higher-end mimosa, try a sparkling wine in the $40 range, like Schramsberg’s Blanc de Blancs Brut Sparkling. Brisk bubbles help offset the addition of juice, and a lemony aroma ties the flavors together without becoming a full-on citrus bomb.
Coming in somewhere in-between on price point, California-based McBride Sisters’ Black Girl Magic line offers a fantastic nonvintage brut made primarily from Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, with tart bubbles and refreshing balance for $25. The label also offers a line of sparkling canned wines in bubbly red, rosé and Riesling assortments that allow you to experiment for a bit of mimosa variety, as well as better portability.
And, if you want to step things up to the level of the Champagne-based original mimosas? Feel free to pour in some Pol Roger or Bollinger, which are often cited as favorites of the British royal family for their “Champagne oranges” during the 1960s.
How to make a mimosa
Add orange juice to chilled champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine and enjoy.