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.
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.
- 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)
- 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.
- Add garnish (if using), and serve.
- 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.
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.
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Bloody Mary Cocktail
Gin and Tonic
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