22 Brunch Cocktails To Kick Off Your Weekend

Coffee and orange juice? As if. Lazy Saturdays and Sundays demand something more potent. These drinks inspired by breakfast dishes — or mixed to perfectly pair with them — lend a spirited start to the day. 

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Dunk This Donut: Tampa

Datz’s bar manager Morgan Zuch has lived in Florida her whole life, so when it comes to coffee, she often prefers it iced. To make her caffeinated cocktail, she starts with beans from local roaster Joffrey’s, which are ground, brewed and mixed with rye, black walnut bitters and Grind Coffee Liqueur, a collaboration between baristas and bartenders. The whimsical eye-opener is served up in a coupe glass, and garnished with a mini powdered doughnut from Dough bakery.

Honey Buzz Milk Punch: New Orleans

After reading about a bartender infusing genever with white bread, SoBou’s bar chef Laura Bellucci bought all of her favorite cereals and started her own carb-infusion trials; Honey Nut Cheerios in rum won out. To create Honey Buzz Milk Punch, she shakes the rum with honey syrup, El Guapo Holiday Pie Bitters and whole milk, all strained and garnished with cereal and ground cinnamon. "It's playful and silly and it tastes like fancy, doctored-up cereal milk," she says.

The Great Bergamot: San Diego

Chef Johnny Rivera of Great Maple wanted to create a citrus-based cocktail that was clean, refreshing and suitable for mornings. Named for the variety of orange that gives Earl Grey tea its distinctive aroma and flavor, the herbal and fragrant Great Bergamot mixes bergamot-infused vodka with ginger liqueur, rosemary, pineapple juice, lemon, agave and citrus bitters, served over a large cube and garnished with a sprig of rosemary.

Breakfast Negroni: San Francisco

Who says a classic Negroni — that boozy, bitter beverage invented in 1919 by the Italian count of the same name — can’t be enjoyed in the early hours? Wildhawk partner Jacques Bezuidenhout’s version evokes childhood nostalgia, as vermouth is infused with puffed chocolate cereal and chocolate salt bitters to offset the bitterness of the Campari and the kick of gin. The tipple is served on the rocks and garnished with orange peel cut into stars and hearts, much like lucky marshmallows in a cereal fronted by a leprechaun.

Bacon, Egg & Cheese Cocktail: St. Louis

Casual coffeehouse Half & Half takes flavors that people love in breakfast — sweet, salty, smoky and creamy — and combines them in the Bacon, Egg & Cheese Cocktail. Cold-smoked bourbon, maple syrup and lemon juice are dry shaken with a whole egg and mascarpone cheese (for a creamy mouth feel) then shaken over ice and strained into a coupe glass.

The Texas Breakfast: Austin

"The drink is inspired by the flavors of a campfire morning," notes Sean Downey, a bartender at The Water Trough at Lone Star Court. "[It] uses sweet and savory ingredients to complement the spice and fruitfulness of Texas rye whiskey." He starts with local rye, then adds a brown sugar-based simple syrup, maple syrup, sparkling apple cider and housemade candied bacon, topping it all with a cinnamon stick.

A Gentleman’s Breakfast: Los Angeles

Brunch is back, says Patina Restaurant Group mixologist Evan Charest, and that extends to cocktails, which he says should be as cosmopolitan and creative as those sipped at a craft cocktail bar on a Saturday night. His elegant and caffeinated A Gentleman’s Breakfast, served at Ray’s and Stark Bar, shakes cognac with cold-brew coffee, maple syrup, robust black walnut bitters and cream, all served over ice.

Earl Gray Tea: Dallas

This tipple at Dallas’ Grayson Social honors the tradition of teatime in a Southern family. The bar team infuses vodka with bergamot-scented Earl Grey tea, then combines it with honey syrup, Meyer lemon bitters and frothy egg white, served in a sherry glass with a squeeze of lemon and a lemon wheel garnish.

The Peacemaker: Phoenix

With 15 locations nationwide, True Food Kitchen offers a lengthy and health-conscious menu, with items suitable to those on vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, organic, Paleo and Mediterranean diets. The Peacemaker cocktail is like a chilled toddy, combining strongly brewed black tea with bourbon, bittersweet amaro, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a tinge of clover honey, served in a rocks glass over ice.

Caribbean Milk Punch: New Orleans

Brandy Milk Punch dates back to the 17th century, and has been popular ever since. After iconic French Quarter restaurant Brennan’s relaunched, the team created a spin on the original, using bourbon, rum, cream and a vanilla-infused simple syrup, garnished with fresh nutmeg. Staff says it is a wholesome, soothing and approachable excuse to imbibe before noon.

Recovery: Dallas

Playing into the philosophy that a little hair of the dog and an energy drink help morning-after over-imbibing, this cocktail at Ivy Kitchen in Dallas boosts vanilla vodka with fresh orange juice, simple syrup and Red Bull, all garnished with an orange wedge for a little vitamin C. "We created the Recovery because we wanted to have a drink that represented the recovery process after a long night of drinking the day before," explains General Manager Dustin Marshall. "It’s popular at our weekend brunch, and sure does the trick!"

Tomato / Clam: New York City

ROKC’s owner and beverage director, Shige Kabashima, took on the classic Clamato at his restaurant (which stands for Ramen, Oyster, Kitchen, Cocktails). The blend of tomato juice, clam juice, mezcal and wasabi is poured over ice and served in a seashell set over an ice-filled wooden box, garnished with a cornichon.

Tanta Bloody Mary: Chicago

Tanta’s house Bloody Mary eschews the typical vodka for pisco, a Peruvian unaged brandy. But its real secret ingredient lies in the inclusion of homemade leche de tigre, the citrus-based marinade that cures seafood in Peruvian ceviche. Tangy, savory and umami-rich, the marinade contains lime juice, onion, chiles, salt, pepper and a little fish juice, with kick from a habanero-like pepper. The cocktail is served in a chile salt-rimmed glass with rotating garnishes including celery, grilled shrimp and seared sea scallops.

Breakfast Bourbon: Philadelphia

Sure, it’s five o'clock somewhere, but why wait? The first meal of the day is the perfect time to enjoy a Breakfast Bourbon at Devil’s Den, a South Philly gastropub and craft beer mecca. It’s especially appealing if ordered by the double-sided wood-burning fireplace. Kris Hagen’s savory brunch sip mixes bourbon with local maple syrup and apple cider, ginger beer and smoked sea salt, rimmed with hand-ground bacon salt and topped with a slice of crispy bacon.

Retox: Madison, Wisconsin

One of several hair-of-the-dog cocktails on the menu at Madison’s Graze, Retox is a riff on the typical lemon-based cleanse that’s sometimes popular after overindulgence. Tart and spicy, it combines cachaça with lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper, served over ice in a rocks glass rimmed with a salty-sweet spice blend. The juices help offset some of the guilt of the cachaça’s spirited kick.

Block Island Sound: Silver Spring, Maryland

Named for the narrow strait separating Block Island from the Rhode Island mainland, this drink at All Set combines the savory profile of a Bloody Mary with the drinkability of a dirty martini. Cherry tomatoes and lemon juice are muddled, then shaken with vodka, sriracha, olive brine and simple syrup, served over ice and garnished with a skewer of cherry tomato and olive.

Never Too Early: Portland, Oregon

Coffee gets a boozy kick at Headwaters in Portland. Bar Manager Brandy Feit blends rum, amaro and angostura bitters to create what she calls the "perfect playground for coffee and citrus." To get those kicks, Feit adds Portland Sodaworks Water Avenue Coffee Syrup and a lemon twist as garnish.

El Diablo: Washington, D.C.

Vinoteca’s Wine Director and Bar Manager, Kate Chrisman, cites the El Diablo’s abilities to wake you up, shake out the cobwebs and combat the effects of the previous night’s good time. It shakes tequila with crème de cassis, lime, habanero shrub and spicy ginger ale, served in a lime- pint glass rimmed with a blend of salt, pimenton and cayenne. "It's pretty much a flavor explosion to wake up your palate, which in turn wakes up your brain," Chrisman says.

Hemingway Royale: Newport, Kentucky

The Green Derby’s bartending co-owner Jordan Brauninger is a big fan of cocktails, history and literature, so when he was creating drinks for the brunch menu, a libation inspired by Papa Hemingway seemed fitting. Brauninger rinses a flute with absinthe, then layers Chambord and sparkling wine, garnishing the mix with a fresh raspberry. "I like this cocktail for brunch because it packs a lot of flavor, while still remaining light enough that you can (and may want to) have several more," he says.

Orange Whipp: Cleveland

When Bonnie Flinner of Prosperity Social Club was laid up on a cold, snowy Cleveland day after ankle surgery, her husband, Clint, whipped up a tasty pick-me-up drink using the ingredients they had on hand. After she returned to worked, Bonnie adapted the recipe for the brunch menu, calling it an Orange Whipp as a nod from two music enthusiasts to Blues Brother John Candy, who ordered three Orange Whips while listening to a band perform. This version shakes bourbon with amaretto, which is strained over ice and topped with orange juice and a cherry-brandy cordial float.

The Fromosa: Cincinnati

Easily the most popular boozy float on craft cocktail bar Sundry and Vice’s weekend brunch menu, the slushy Fromosa is crafted with homemade Italian ice, which changes flavors seasonally. This version uses a generous scoop of blackberry-jalapeno ice, topped with Prosecco and garnished with fresh strawberry and blackberry. "It's light, dry and refreshing, with a surprising spice on the end to awaken the senses and help eliminate any effects from the previous night's festivities," says Owner Stu King.

Federales Micheladas: Portland, Oregon

Imperial bartender Lindsay Baker was in search of a creative way to use her homemade smoked Bloody Mary mix — made by infusing tomato juice in a smoker, then mixing it with spices, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon, horseradish and sherry vinegar. Her michelada riff adds lime juice, the smoky punch of mezcal and lager to keep it light and drinkable. "The takeaway of the cocktail is smoky, high acid and salty, a great counterpoint to a runny yolk on top of your eggs benedict," she says.

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