Go beyond mimosas and Caesars — here's where to expand your boozy brunch horizons
When it comes to weekend coffee goals, follow Italy’s lead and order a caffè corretto – espresso “corrected” with a nip of something harder. Espresso flanked with Fernet and a twist of lemon might be one weirdo’s idea of digestive perfection (don’t @ me), but those who prefer a more graceful integration of booze and caffeine should check out the brunch scene at Otto’s Bierhalle (1087 Queen West) and gulp a Frühschoppen, a cold brew-infused Negroni that’s bittersweet and strong in all the right places ($12).
For a Cuban twist on what Italians consider proper coffee, try La Cubana’s (392 Roncesvalles) Carajillo, a simple restorative jolt that marries aged Cuban rum with espresso, cinnamon and turbinado sugar ($10).
If bubbles don’t purr “fancy weekend feast” in a mid-Atlantic accent, then I just don’t know anything any more. Champagne-spiked drinks have been around since the dawn of cocktail history – the Champagne Cocktail, a venerable dinosaur in the pantheon of assembled alcoholic beverages, dates back to the mid-1800s.
Though mimosas and Bellinis have storied backgrounds of their own, they’ve been way over-served as haggard, rot-gutty shells of their true and glorious fresh-squeezed selves.
At Sofia (99 Yorkville), these brunch workhorses are given new attention – and their own list. The Apple And Fig Bellini (Amaro Luciano, apple and fig purée, clove syrup and crabapple bitters topped with bubbly, $15) is as unapologetically seasonal as the PSL (and, let’s face it, way more interesting). Meanwhile, the Passion And Ginger Mimosa (Aperol, Prosecco, passion fruit purée, lime, ginger honey syrup, $15) is highly chuggable.
Across town at the Tennessee Tavern (1554 Queen West), seek solace in New Cures For Old Headaches (calvados, cava, lemon, lavender, sage, $13.27), a lovely riff on a brandy-based French 75. If that doesn’t work, stick your face in a gooey, carbalicious khachapuri (a Georgian cheese-filled bread boat, $15.95) before slinking back home to bed.
Tennessee’s New Cures For Old Headaches: It’s good for what ails you.
CAESARS (AND BEYOND)
Ninety-nine per cent* of tomato juice is consumed by people on planes or, naturally, at brunch – because savoury drinks are a tiny sodium oasis in the ninth ring of hangover hell.
The Michelada, born in Mexico, is no exception, and the no-frills version at the Federal (1438 Dundas West) – made with nondescript beer, Walter mix, lime, Maggi seasoning and a pickled onion ($11) – is pretty spot-on.
In Cocktail (which any bartender will unabashedly list in their top 10 influential films of all time), Tom Cruise’s mentor fixes him a restorative Red Eye by sloshing tomato juice and beer together in a pint glass and cracking in a raw egg. Toss back a vodka-fortified version at the delicious White Lily Diner (678 Queen East, $12), where an entire list of tomato-y breakfast cocktails are available all day. (Yes, including Caesars.)
Canadians are constantly reminded to be proud of our very own Bloody Caesar, but in my opinion, there are tastier ways to drink your spiked veggies after a long, fun night of nutrient depletion. Devastatingly, Bloody Marys and Red Snappers never really caught on in Toronto – I suspect due to misguided patriotism over a deep love of clam juice.
Sofia, classily pushing its brunch agenda, makes a signature Verde Bloody Mary, which tops premium vodka not just with tomato, but kale and arugula juices dosed with cayenne, jalapeno, lime, celery bitters and Calabrian chilies, ($14).
*This is not an actual statistic – but it could be.
For more brunch goodness, check out our 2018 guide to Toronto’s best new brunch.