You have to do it. The people basically demand it. and why not? As long as you show up, have eggs and are able to handle multiple sides and beverage orders, it’s basically a piece of… pancakes. In my case in was inevitable. There had been whispers and threats of brunch even before we opened.
Opening for brunch is a wild thing. When word hits, or the idea is barely suggested, brunchers get overly excited. Immediately and frantically making premature reservations for themselves and 9 of their closest foodie friends. So fast, it seems, that when you do finally open your doors to the public it’s as though they’ve forgotten to brush their hair or change clothes from the night before. Enthusiastic brunchers storm the doors at the exact moment the new restaurant opens for service– Of course they’ve already heard great things about you because the local media is just as anxious to get the word out about the most anticipated brunch in town. It’s silly really. But we love them for it. We work hard. It is no easy task working a 12-hour shift on a Saturday just to turn around on a few hours sleep to greet our morning lovers with hot coffee and poached eggs. How disappointing would it be to open for no one? We do it for the people and that’s why it matters. That’s why it’s important. Opening our doors, letting our friends in and watching them leave happy, slightly buzzed and ready to resume their Sundays as they see fit– We’re all in this together, after all.
As I mentioned we had been hinting at brunch for a few months prior so I had some time to think about how I was going to approach the beverage side of service. Brunch is a different animal. So many factors come into consideration that are never thought of for regular dinner service. For example, listing a cocktail on a menu that consists of 2 ounces of over-proof whiskey and some other high-alcohol modifiers is a normal thing and one would really have no reason to think twice about it. At brunch, you’ve got people coming in sometimes after a long couple days of intense drinking. Wether they know it or not, they could potentially be walking in with a high blood alcohol concentration. I knew I wanted to approach this brunch menu with that in mind. I wasn’t going to put anything on the menu with more than an ounce and a half of any spirit, and nothing over 80 proof. It was a fun and interesting challenge. I mean… for my nerd side. I was able to come up with some pretty cool ideas, and I think, some pretty tasty beverages. I also dedicated a whole portion if the drinks menu to non-alcoholic beverages, and even listed a mocktail option– which allows both the bartender and the guest to get creative.
Like eggs, bacon and freshly-squeezed orange juice, there are just some things you can’t leave off of the brunch menu. The Bloody Mary is a staple wether you like it or not, and while I jokingly remind people that the sun is down when they order them during dinner service, I am unable to hide behind that fact on Sunday morning. The bruncher loves this savory, palate-wrecking-eye-opener for reasons I can’t always fully understand. Nonetheless, in keeping with the idea that we are here for them, I began to decide how I was going to tackle the queen of the brunch beverage.
I knew right away we were going to use a Bloody Mary mix to keep service speedy, and I knew we were going to make it in house. I also knew that, like with any service, it’s extremely difficult to anticipate how many orders of Bloody mix we would need to get through one brunch service. This is not as big of a problem at night. What isn’t used can usually be used the next day, or has an extended shelf life. In our scenario we open once for Brunch on Sunday and don’t open again until Wednesday at 4 p.m. Tomato juice will not make it that long- even with all of the spices and et ceteras you throw into it. It gets weird. So, I had to come up with a way to waste as little as possible, but be able to make a lot of mix on-the-fly. What I came up with, I think, is pretty awesome.
The Bloody Mary consists of the following ingredients: Spirit (we let the guest choose this part), tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Of course liberties are taken and the cocktail is jazzed up in a myriad of different ways, but it’s the tomato and lemon juices that are going to ruin your mix. The spices and other ingredients have a much longer shelf life. That’s where my process begins. I decided to put all the (basically) non-perishibles together, jar them and add that to tomato and lemon and spirit. To accommodate for the needing-to-make-a-bunch-at-a-time, I jarred enough “Bloody Base” for one 46 ounce can of tomato juice. It’s working really well, and it’s super-easy.
Now you have what you need to make a batch of Bloody mix. Add one jar of Bloody Base to one can of tomato juice, whack together to fully incorporate, then bottle.
1.5 oz Spirit
.75 oz lemon juice
2.5 oz Bloody mix
Garnish with an olive, smoked tomato, pinch of salt and a tiny sidecar of Coor’s.
In a Collins glass, stir together spirit, juice and Bloody mix. Add ice and place skewered garnish atop. Sprinkle salt onto the garnish and cocktail, serve with small beer.