Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Mimosa Cocktail

Mimosa Cocktails with orange twist garnish, champagne bottle in background

Perfect for a festive brunch

In the US, the Mimosa is one of the two most popular alcoholic beverages for brunch (the Bloody Mary is the other). It’s a great-tasting mix of OJ and bubbly that goes down smooth, with a flavor that invites you to have a second. Maybe a third. Fortunately, the orange juice dilutes the sparkling wine. So you can drink several without getting blotto before you’ve had that last bite of toast.

And because the drink contains champagne, it’s particularly appropriate for special occasions.  It’s a natural at brunches that celebrate weddings, graduations, or other special events (Father’s Day, anyone?)  But it’s also perfect for a lazy Sunday morning when it’s just you, your sweetie, that thick Sunday paper — and plenty of time to enjoy each other’s company.

So if you have a festive brunch coming up, this is your drink.  And if you don’t have a special occasion on the horizon, no worries:  Pouring yourself one of these makes any day special.
Mimosa Cocktails with orange twist garnish, on white acrylic

Recipe:  The Mimosa Cocktail

The Mimosa is nothing more than orange juice (fresh-squeezed tastes so much better than store-bought) and champagne (or another sparkling wine).  But there are some interesting variations on the drink, as I discuss in the Notes (including adding Grand Marnier).

When making a Mimosa, the biggest decision is what proportion of OJ-to-bubbly you should use.  In the US and throughout much of the world, the standard is 2 parts orange juice to 1 part sparkling wine.  But in Britain, the ratio usually is reversed:  1 part OJ to 2 parts bubbly (and that’s the ratio I use in my recipe).  Some people like equal parts of each ingredient.  So what to do?  I suggest tasting several variations to decide which is your favorite.

The next question is:  What kind of bubbly do you want to use in this drink?  I’d advise not using anything too pricey — its flavor will get lost in all that orange juice.  I prefer a brut in the $10 to $15 range.  At that price, you won’t get real champagne — you’ll have to buy sparkling wine (more on this in the Notes).  But no worries.  Sparkling wine is excellent in a Mimosa.

The Mimosa is best served in a champagne flute.  This recipe takes just minutes to prepare, and serves one.

Ingredients
  • 2 ounces of freshly squeezed orange juice (see headnote for alternative proportions)
  • 4 ounces of brut sparkling wine
  • orange wheel or twist for garnish (optional; some people like a sprig of mint or a strawberry instead)
Procedure
  1. Fill a champagne flute about 1/3 full with orange juice (for this drink, you can just pour by eye; exact measurements aren’t necessary).  Add champagne until the liquid reaches within half an inch of the rim.
  2. Add garnish (if using), and serve.
Mimosa Cocktails with orange twist garnish, champagne bottle and pitcher of orange juice in background

Notes
  • Some people insist a Mimosa isn’t “real” unless you add a teaspoon or so of Grand Marnier.  That’s a good variation, and worth trying.  But I wouldn’t rush out to buy Grand Marnier if you don’t have any on hand.
  • A dash or two of orange bitters also add a nice touch.  When using them, I add the bitters first, then the OJ and bubbly.
  • A precursor of the Mimosa called “Buck’s Fizz” originated in England during the 1920s (it contained 2 parts bubbly to 1 part OJ).  The earliest version of the drink also featured a bit of grenadine for coloring.  There are other versions of the Buck’s Fizz that call for a dash or two of cherry brandy, and a teaspoon or so of gin. 
  • The drink we now call the Mimosa was developed a few years later in Paris. David Wondrich says that “the name comes from the Acacia dealbata, a species of Australian wattle favored by French gardeners; its flowers are, well, Mimosa-colored.” This version of the drink featured 2 parts OJ to 1 part bubbly, which is the most common ratio used today in the US. 
  • What kind of bubbly should you use for a Mimosa? Definitely not the best stuff — its flavor will just get overshadowed by the OJ. But before we talk labels, let’s first define some terms. 
  • Real champagne is a sparkling wine produced in the Champagne wine region of northeastern France, which includes the provinces of Aube, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, Montagne de Reims, and Vallée de la Marne. According to European law, only sparkling wine that comes from these provinces (and is bottled under certain conditions) can be sold as “champagne.” 
  • One of those conditions is that champagne must undergo a second fermentation in the bottle, a technique called “méthode champenoise.”  By European law, that wording can now be used only to describe sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region.  So other sparkling wines use the nomenclature “méthode traditionnelle” or “fermented in the bottle” (or some equivalent) to indicate that they are made in the same way as champagne.
  • Most of the decent sparkling wines made in the US, and all of the cavas made in Spain, are fermented in the bottle.  Many of these rival true champagne for flavor and quality.
  • Most of us (including me) ignore the legal niceties and use the word “champagne” to refer to any sparkling wine that’s made to resemble true champagne.
  • Most real champagne is simply too good to use in a cocktail.  You should drink real champagne chilled and neat.  Full stop.  I don’t think you can find a bottle of true champagne in the US for under $25.  Why spend that much when better, lower cost cocktail alternatives exist?
  • So what to buy?  My best advice is to visit the closest decent wine store, explain that you’re making Mimosas, and ask their recommendation for something costing $10 or so.  Every wine store stocks something in that price range that would be appropriate.  But because every store has different stock, it’s hard to predict what exactly yours might have available.
  • If you’re buying bubbly at the supermarket, I suggest looking at the Spanish cavas.  Codorníu and Freixenet are the two biggest producers, and most supermarkets stock at least one of them.  Cavas can be real deals — I regularly see some priced at $8 - $9 that are quite drinkable.
  • You could also try an Italian prosecco.  These are a bit sweeter than brut champagne, but they seem to work quite well in a Mimosa.  
  • If you prefer a domestic brand, Domaine Ste.-Michelle and Korbel produce decent bruts that cost $10+.
  • My favorite bubbly in this price range is Saint-Hilaire (the full name is Saint-Hilaire, Blanquette de Limoux).  Made in a Benedictine Abbey in southwestern France, this wine actually predates “real” champagne — and is in fact France’s oldest sparkling wine.  Thomas Jefferson loved it, and served it to guests when he was president.  In St. Louis, where I live, this wine typically is priced in the $12 to $14 range.  In my opinion, it drinks like many $25 or $30 bottles of champagne.
  • The usual reminder:  I’ve mentioned a few brand names here.  But this is a noncommercial blog and I’m not compensated to recommend specific brands (nor do I receive them for free to test).  I buy all my own booze, and recommend what I like or think is appropriate.
     
Mimosa Cocktails with orange twist garnish, black background

Maintaining the Model of Blogging Professionalism

“Mmmm,” blissed Mrs Kitchen Riffs, taking a sip of her Mimosa.  “Such a great drink!”

“You like anything with bubbly,” I said.

“True,” she replied, “it’s a weakness of mine.”

“Too bad you don’t have a weakness for something less expensive,” I observed.  “Like maybe beer.”

“I have standards,” sniffed Mrs K R.  “You wouldn’t want me to abandon them merely for pecuniary reasons, now would you?”

“Well, when you put it that way . . .”

 “We have our readers to think about!” said Mrs K R.  “So no more of this silly talk about expense.”

“Pour you another round?” I asked.

“Of course!” she replied.  “This time with a tad more bubbly.  I’m testing ratios, you see.”

Mrs K R, ever the blogging Stakhanovite.

You may also enjoy reading about:
Bloody Mary Cocktail
Champagne Cocktail
Bellini
Mojito Cocktail
Bridal Cocktail
Gin and Tonic
Mai Tai
Classic Daiquiri
Negroni Cocktail
Pimm's Cup
Gimlet Cocktail
Sloe Gin Fizz
Cocktail Basics

84 comments:

  1. Those pictures are really pretty John! I am with your wife on the expensive bubbly lol ;)

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    1. Hi Alyssa, we do buy a lot of bubbly around here. But it's good stuff, so no complaining on my part! Thanks for the comment.

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  2. How funny since we just had the shower with mimosas. I'm afraid our ratios might have been off, too, but it helped out the party action, so to speak! We used prosecco and they were great. And because the bride saw something on pinterest we added some other juices and fruit that she wanted. But I will say the cranberry raspberrry worked great as did the mango/oj. Frankly though, I like mine straight up!

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    1. Hi Abbe, the fun thing about the Mimosa is you can add almost anything tasty to it and make a new drink out of it! I'm not ready for a glass of champagne most mornings, but I can usually be talked into a Mimosa. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  3. Looks awesome John...I never had Mimosa with Grand Marnier...next time I will sure add some, just to see how it tastes :)
    Thanks for the informative post and hope you are having a great week!

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    1. Hi Juliana, the Grand Mariner adds a nice twist to it - worth trying. Thanks for the comment.

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  4. One of my favorites John though I admit; I like them with a touch of my homemade cranberry liqueur or even Chambord; the color is something like a sunset.

    And...I never ever ever use Champagne. I get a nice cava from Costco for about $6/bottle; it is MY house brand. :)

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    1. Hi Barb, some of those cavas are really great! We used to have a cava for our house brand before we discovered Saint-Hilaire. It's worth a try, IMO. And I agree it's fun to add other liqueurs to a Mimosa - the Chambord would make it a Mimosa Sunset. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  5. I really enjoy your cocktail posts, John, especially when they conjure up some wonderful memories, as this one has. Sunday brunch in the Walnut Room of Marshall Field's, back when it was Marshall FIeld's, would not have been nearly so popular, nor fun, had it not been for the mimosas. Your advice to avoid buying top brands of champagne for the cocktails is good. Why waste the money for good champagne when the mixer is as strong tasting as OJ? This was a wonderful post, John, and for me, a bit nostalgic. Thanks.

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    1. Hi John, always happy to bring back memories! Marshall Fields used to be such a great store. I haven't been in ages, but my impression is they've declined since they were sold to Macy's. Thanks for the comment.

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  6. Confession time; there was a stage in my life where OJ was an imperative addition to my drinking repertoire. Vodka & OJ anyone? Would you believe that to this day, I can not drink any sort of blend of anything that contains Orange Juice including OJ itself. Such a shame...

    However, John when I did drink a Mimosa while phasing into my brunch days, more champagne than OJ was always welcome:)

    Thank you so much for sharing...

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    1. Hi Louise, I can see where you might have OD'd on OJ. But a Mimosa - hold the OJ - is wonderful! ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  7. I Love mimosa's! They are best accompaniment during weekend brunch :)

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    1. Hi Kiran, these really are a super weekend drink! Thanks for the comment.

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  8. I just love the presentation and color of this drink!
    Looks like summer in a champagne glass :)

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    1. Hi Daniela, it does look like summer in a champagne glass, doesn't it? ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  9. Love the tutorial and that last pic is amazing.

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    1. Hi Debra, glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.

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  10. I thoroughly enjoying this post. Very informative and the dialogue with you & your wife was funny!




















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    1. Hi Tia, hit the space bar by accident? ;-) Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks for the comment.

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  11. I use to work on a harbour cruise catamaran where we went out for private functions. I used to have to stand at the entrance of the boat greeting the guests and they stepped aboard and I'd have a try of these cocktails in my arms. (They didn't look this good though). All of the waitresses really hated these cocktails because they were made with freshly squeezed juice that wasn't strained and all those bits of OJ would stick like cement to the glasses and they were impossible to clean and we'd have to battle with them for the rest of the 4-hr cruise. Fun times! Thanks for rekindling the memories xx

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    1. Hi Charlie, citrus pulp can be a pain to get off of glasses! I usually strain for that reason. Glad to rekindle memories! And thanks for the comment.

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  12. I could go for about 89 of these right now.....rough day :( Love the pics!

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    1. Hi Ashley, if you're going to have 89 I definitely suggest the ratio of 2 parts OJ to 1 of bubbly! Sorry about your rough day, but thanks for the comment.

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  13. I don't drink alcoholic beverages so I'll have to resort to the simple OJ but your photos are gorgeous and very crisp.

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    1. Hi Lail, this is a great drink for people who don't drink alcohol - just skip the bubbly (or you could add a bit of sparkling water). And if you want to dress it up, add a little grenadine. Thanks for the kind words, and comment.

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  14. I don't think I've ever been to a brunch where a mimosa wasn't on offer. :) Yours are calling me.

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    1. Hi Maureen, yeah, they're calling me, too. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  15. I am definitely a Bucks Fizz girl myself. Brunch just isn't the same without a couple . . . or three.

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    1. Hi Karen, the Bucks Fizz might well be the better drink. But I wouldn't turn down either version! Thanks for the comment.

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  16. Oh man, I love mimosas! And I like the way Mrs KR's thinks. Heh.

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    1. Hi Bob, great drink, isn't it? And of course Mrs K R is right! Thanks for the comment.

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  17. Your cocktail photos are always outstanding...I especially like the first one of one of my favorite cocktails.

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    1. Hi Karen, glad you like them, and thanks for the kind words. And comment!

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  18. Yea! Champagne - my favorite "wine!" One mother's day brunch at home my husband made us mimosas. We were in bed asleep by noon, while the kids watched tv. It sure does sneak up on you!! Lovely pictures, as always!

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    1. Hi Laura, champagne is so nice, isn't it? We always have a bottle - or two - in the refrigerator. Thanks for the comment.

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  19. You and your sexy, seductive beverage photos !
    I'm sick 'n tired of being mesmerized !

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    1. Hi Suborna, sorry about that mesmerization thing. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  20. I always wing it when I make these. So glad to have excellent guidelines regarding proportions now. Thanks, John

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    1. Hi Liz, this actually is one of those drinks where winging it usually work reasonably well. But it's nice to have some ideas for different ratios to play with to find the one that is your favorite! Thanks for the comment.

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  21. Given the choice between a Bloody Mary or a Mimosa, I will always go for the latter. Who can resist bubbly in the mid-morning, right?

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    1. Hi Carolyn, I'm with you! Shall I mix us a couple? ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  22. I love your photos of cocktails against dark backgrounds, and also reading your detailed description of the drinks and how to make them. Stunning photos, and they make me want to have a glass of mimosa right now, even though I am at work. :)

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    1. Hi Julia, you could always leave work early. ;-) Thanks for your kind words, and comment.

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  23. My son is graduating from high school next week and we'll be hosting a family brunch. These mimosas are definitely on the menu! Perfect for celebrating (or just because!).

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    1. Hi Hannah, any festive brunch needs these! Or any brunch, period, because as you say - just because! Thanks for the comment.

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  24. I have tried the mimosa cocktail and I do love these. They are great for a brunch.

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    1. Hi Dawn, aren't they nice? So wonderful for a brunch, as you say. Thanks for the comment.

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  25. I've never been a mimosa fan until my daughter-in-law turned me into a convert. She'll love this.

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    1. Hi Kristi, it's a great drink if you like OJ. ;-) Glad you've come to appreciate it! Thanks for the comment.

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  26. I think I am right along with Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. I also have a weakness for the bubbly. I know ...I know that beer has bubbles too... But we would both rather have one of your delicious mimosa's. Take care, BAM

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    1. Hi Bam, there are some great beers out there, but they do pale in comparison with champagne, don't they? Thanks for the comment.

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  27. That is such a refreshing and irresistible drink!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Hi Rosa, isn't it nice? My favorite brunch drink! Thanks for the comment.

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  28. Obsessed with mimosa's! I have actually never made my own though :P

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    1. Hi Natalie, they're easy to make! You owe it to yourself to try. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  29. There is nothing like a good mimosa! I want one as soon as I deliver! I wonder if the hospital would mind if we snuck in a bottle champagne?

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    1. Hi Monet, aren't these good? And it'd be exciting to have one of those right after you deliver! Thanks for the comment.

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  30. We have Mimosas every Christmas morning - they make any day extra-special!

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    1. Hi Donalyn, aren't they a great cocktail for a special morning? One of my favorites for that purpose. Thanks for the comment.

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  31. Mmm nothing says brunch like mimosas! I also prefer your method, with a little more sparkly than OJ.

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    1. Hi Katherine, more sparkly is always better! ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  32. Brilliant find! I have some oranges I want to use up in orange juice and I have something I wanted to celebrate tonight, so now I know HOW. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Alex, glad to be of service! I hope you have a happy celebration. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  33. That's my kind of cocktail - simple and contains champagne. I like the idea of the addition of Grand marnier though.

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    1. Hi Suzanne, it's hard to go wrong with champagne, isn't it? Grand Mariner is a really nice touch. Thanks for the comment.

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  34. Yay, my favorite cocktail!!! Even though this is a "brunch" drink, I will drink it anytime, anywhere! :)

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    1. Hi Kristi, certainly worth drinking whenever! ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  35. This is one of those drinks I try to sneak into my diet from time to time. It's so worth it and I just love the flavour. Great photos John.

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    1. Hi Kim, well worth sneaking into your diet! And I agree the flavor is wonderful. Thanks for the kind words, and comment.

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  36. Hi John, that's a really gorgeous pictures, Very very impressive. It's like from those professional food & wine magazine.

    The cocktail sound good and refreshing. Thanks for the notes, now I know what to do with sparkling wine. :)

    Have a great week ahead.

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    1. Hi Amelia, it's a cool cocktail - fun to drink. Thanks for the very kind words, and for taking time to comment.

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  37. What a funny name for a drink. I like sparkling wine a lot so it's another one for me :)

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    1. Hi Marta, the name is a little odd. But it's a great breakfast drink, so just what you'd like! Thanks for the comment.

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  38. Loved the pictures and the name 'Mimosa' reminds me of a plant found in tropical weather also known as 'Touch me not' plant. I love sparkling wine and its a perfect drink!!!

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    1. Hi Shibi, interesting about the "Touch me not" plant! This is a great drink, although anything with sparkling wine is great! Thanks for the comment.

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  39. Mimosa is in deed, the perfect drink for brunch. :) It's the "official" beverage in our house for Sunday brunch.

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    1. Hi Amy, it's important to have an official brunch drink. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  40. The mimosa and the bloody Mary are standard offerings for family holidays, long weekends with friends or that Sunday Brunch that is the opening event for a lazy day. You sure make them look as delicious as they are! I've never tried them with Grand Marnier nor bitters. The orange bitters sound like an interesting little twist.

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    1. Hi MJ, both Grand Mariner and bitters are nice, but I rarely use Grand Mariner, and often use bitters. So I guess that tells you something! Thanks for the comment.

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  41. Really the bloody mary for brunch? I thought the english here were mad when I saw them having it for breakfast. ^.^ hm maybe I d prefer your mimosa for brunch. That sounds like more my kind of cocktail.

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    1. Hi Helene, a lot of people really do like a Bloody Mary for brunch (or breakfast!) - all that tomato juice hides the booze. Personally, I much prefer a Mimosa. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  42. So... continue from my previous comment, tutorial? Seriously, amazing clicks. Your mimosa looks so good. Much better than ones I make. ;)

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    1. Hi Nami, ;-) I will consider the tutorial. Continuing with my response to your tutorial request on the Dark and Stormy post, these also were backlight, but in the case of the 2nd and 4th photos I also had another light in front so I'd get the reflection on the glasses. The second photo also had some top light. Isn't the mimosa a great drink? One of my faves. Thanks for the comment.

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