What Is a Mimosa?
The sunny yellow, sparkling wine-based cocktail was popularized by the British royals.
By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen
Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.
Mimosas seem like they're on every brunch menu you've ever seen. They're popular enough to have their own almost-official national holiday: May 16th (but we're more inclined to think of every Sunday as Mimosa Day). The mimosa cocktail is named for the yellow flower of the Mimosa tree, because the drink resembles the flower’s color. Mixing orange juice and any sparkling white wine will result in a glass filled with a sunshine-yellow cocktail that can be served as is or dressed up with other juices and garnishes.
What Is a Mimosa?
A mimosa is a cocktail that is equal parts orange juice and Champagne or sparkling white wine, usually served in a champagne flute. That’s the basic model: a yellow-orange bubbly beverage served at brunches everywhere. From there, you can add extras or go with another juice altogether.
Originally, mimosas were not a brunch cocktail at all. They were called Champagne oranges and were a popular drink in French wine country. The British royals brought the beverage back to England, where it became known as the mimosa, and pretty soon, notable Europeans were drinking the beverage. A few prominent American bars picked up the drink and it ultimately came to be associated with brunch, along with its partner in crime, the bloody Marry.
What Does a Mimosa Taste Like?
If you’re talking about a classic mimosa that is equal parts orange juice and sparkling white wine, it’s going to taste only as good as the quality of those two ingredients. Sparkling wine labeled brut is your best bet, since the orange juice is bringing plenty of sugar to the glass. Remember when shopping that extra dry is sweeter than brut (for a sparkling wine label guide, see our story on prosseco). Fresh orange juice will give you the best flavor, and it should be pulp-free.
There are many variations on the mimosa, and each one will change the taste. For example, an orange liquor will add depth of flavor and make the drink a little boozier.
How Do You Make Mimosas?
Making the mimosa is easy: pouring juice and sparkling wine into a Champagne flute. Keeping the ingredients chilled until right before you’re going to serve the drinks is important.
The art of making a mimosa is in the details, and knowing the tastes of your guests. The original formula was equal parts orange juice and Champagne. At some point, it became typical to add a tablespoon of orange liquor such as Cointreau. Then came the single raspberry or strawberry garnish. At some point most brunch restaurants began upping the percent of sparkling wine and there isn’t a hard and fast rule on that.
Champagne flutes are the best glass to use because they help the bubbles stay in the drink. A wine glass would be your second go-to. You can easily make a batch of mimosas in a pitcher: put the juice and liquor in the pitcher and refrigerate it. Add the sparkling wine just before you pour the drinks. You also have the option of setting up a mimosa bar with a verity of juices. Just be sure to keep everything on ice.
For the kids and moms-to-be, we like to go with equal parts orange juice and ginger ale. Adding a little grenadine turns it into a faux tequila sunrise.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Perfect Mimosas
Makes 8 servings
One 750 ml bottle dry sparkling white wine
2 cups fresh, strained orange juice
8 tablespoons Cointreau, Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
8 fresh raspberries or strawberries
1. Chill sparkling wine, orange juice and champagne flutes in the refrigerator.
2. When you’re ready to serve, pour 1 tablespoon orange liquor into each glass.
3. Add 1/4 cup of orange juice to each glass.
4. Tilt each glass and add the sparkling wine slowly down the side to avoid bubbling over. The wine mixes itself, no need to stir. Add a berry to each glass and serve immediately.
What Is the Best Champagne for a Mimosa?
The best Champagne for a mimosa is whatever you like and can afford. For us, buying a decent Champagne is more than we’d spend for making mimosas, in which the flavor will be partially obscured by orange juice. Instead, we recommend a dry sparkling white wine such as a cava from Spain, a dry prosecco from Italy or an American sparkling wine. A budget of around $20 per bottle is what we’re suggesting.
Probably the most well-known juice and sparkling wine that isn’t a mimosa is a bellini, made with peach puree in place of orange juice. Purée of mango or watermelon right from the blender are great options too. Pineapple, strawberry, blackberry and raspberry purées and grapefruit juice should be strained: no one wants pulp or seeds in their cocktail. Pomegranate, apple juice or apple cider can be used right out of the container.
In addition to the raspberry each glass gets as a garnish, this mimosa variation uses raspberry liquor in place of orange liquor.
Black pepper and strawberries are a classic combo, and great in this punch. Prep it ahead but don’t add the champagne until right before you serve it.
Four ingredients including water: a fresh peach cocktail doesn't get much easier than this.
This mimosa has the fanciest ice cubes ever: they’re striped with raspberry puree in the middle.