Having a cocktail with late weekend brunch is not an uncommon experience. Sparkling wine based brunch drinks are usually offered for those who are not big fans of Bloody Mary and prefer more elegant brunch tipples. Mimosa, Bellini or Kir are the most popular classic drinks you will usually see on brunch menu. Find out the story behind them and try making them at home for a truly indulgent weekend.
There are a couple of versions on how this orange and champagne based drink originated. The French version called Mimosa emerged in 1925 at Hotel Ritz in Paris. Bartender Frank Meyer started making Mimosas with the equal proportions of champagne and orange juice.
The drink was named after yellow flowers Acacia dealbata, a species of Australian wattle that was popular in French gardens. The plant name originated from the word “mimic” due to the bush moving in the wind mimicking animal movements and funny enough there is a hypothesis, that the cocktail idea was mimicked from England. Similar sounding orange juice and sparkling wine drink called Buck’s Fizz was concocted there in 1921. London Buck’s Club barman Pat McGarry was making it with 2 parts of orange juice and 1 part of champagne and possibly with a splash of grenadine.
The original recipe includes champagne, but you can easily go for cremant or even dry prosecco. Use freshly squeezed orange juice to make the most out of this cocktail. It will require a bit more of an effort, but once you taste the difference between the Mimosa with store bought and freshly squeezed orange juice, you wouldn’t want to look back.
In a tall flute glass pour sparking wine and top up with orange juice. Do not stir, as it will cause the wine loose the bubbles.
The proportions of orange juice and sparkling wine may vary depending on personal preferences: some people like to add more sparkling (2 to 1 ratio), while others prefer it lighter with bigger proportion of juice in it. The lighter version is popular In England, where this drink is called Buck’s Fizz.
Created by Giuseppe Cipriani in Harry’s Bar in Venice and named after a Venetian painter Giovanni Bellini this cocktail became one of the most popular drinks for the early hours of the day. It is said that Cipriani visited the USA after the war and returned with a newly invented electric blender. This new technology enabled him to easily make a puree of fresh white peaches to which he added the local prosecco sparkling wine. The pale pink colour of the drink reminded him of paint shade used by 15th Century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini and that’s how the cocktail got its name.
If you are making puree yourself, you will need about one white peach per cocktail. Yellow peaches can be used, but in general they are too sour for this delicate drink.
Blend peeled peaches and strain the puree. Refrigerate it until it is cold. Alternatively use frozen peach puree. If the puree is too tart, add a bit of sugar or simple syrup.
Add a heaping tablespoon of peach puree to the chilled flute glass. Pour prosecco until two thirds of the glass is full. Stir gently and top up with more prosecco.
Other varieties of this drink can be made replacing peach puree with other fruits. The version with pureed strawberries is called Rossini, with mandarines – Puccini and with pomegranate juice – Tintoretto.
The Kir is a mixed drink of dry white wine and crème de cassis, a liqueur made from blackcurrants. Canon Felix Kir, a Catholic Priest and hero of the French resistance during the Second World War was elected mayor of Dijon in 1945. His favourite tipple was a measure of crème de cassis topped up with white wine which he served at official functions. Kir was made from Aligote grape which can make a very sharp thin wine. Sweetness of crème de cassis helped to temper down the wine. Also it is said that Canon Kir was showing his support for local blackcurrant farmers by using their produce.
Pour Crème de cassis into chilled flute glass. Gently top up with champagne. Serve immediately.
When champagne is used, the drink is called Kir Royale. Other variations of this cocktail – Kir Breton or Kir Normand – can be made substituting Breton or Normandy cider for champagne or Kir Imperial, using raspberry liquor instead of Crème de cassis.
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