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10 Best Brunch Cocktails to Make at Home

These drinks will work with whatever you're serving, from French toast to frittatas.

Brunch stands apart from other meals, whether it's a formal celebration or simply getting together with friends on the weekend. But while the breakfast and lunch hybrid is beloved for some of its traditional dishes, it's also a time of day when beverages shine as well—even if you're just working with what's in your bar cart. If you're planning a special gathering at your place, there are a few basics that can help make the planning process even easier. Read on for the best brunch cocktails to make at home, according to experts.

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Hibiscus Punch

A hibiscus tea cocktail in a glass next to a clear kettle

Brunch is typically associated with bright and breezy fare. And if you're looking to change up from the more traditional juice-based cocktails, one drink can provide the pop of color and balanced flavor profile you're looking for while also saving you time to focus on hosting duties.

"For me, part of serving people at home is volume, so for brunch, I tend to lean towards a brunch punch because they're flexible and can be made with almost anything," says Stephen Rowe, co-owner and bar director of Dario restaurant in Minneapolis. "And a good crowd-pleaser is a vodka hibiscus punch."

To make it, steep some dried hibiscus in water and set it aside—unless you've found some premade hibiscus tea in the store. Then, in a large punch bowl or mixing bowl, combine an entire bottle of vodka, about 12 ounces of lemon juice, about a cup of sugar to taste, eight ounces of the brewed hibiscus tea, and then finish with a vodka bottle's-worth of water. Fill the bowl with ice, garnish with sliced lemon rounds, and serve.

A Different Take on a Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary Caesar Cocktail on wooden table with celery and chili peppers

Most people see the Bloody Mary as the quintessential brunch cocktail. But its base opens up the door for other variations that have even more layers of complexity.

"I really love a savory cocktail at brunch, so of course, a Bloody Bull is in order. It's a Bloody Mary, but with the addition of beef broth," says Cristina Martin, a New York City-based cocktail expert and educator. "An exceptional choice when you are looking for a little hair of the dog!"

She says the drink consists of equal parts beef bouillon, tomato, and vodka, a half ounce of lemon juice, two to three dashes of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, and a pinch each of salt and black pepper. However, just like with a Bloody Mary, you can feel free to riff on what's in the glass by adding ingredients like wasabi, soy sauce, and horseradish.

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pink palomas, three glasses with grapefruit and rosemary garnishes

Citrus fruit is a mainstay in brunch cocktails, but that doesn't mean you have to stick to oranges as your main ingredient. In fact, branching out into other juices can be a refreshing change.

"For something bright, I skip the mimosa and go for a Paloma," says Martin. "The grapefruit hits those classic citrusy notes that you expect in a brunch cocktail, but also it's super refreshing."

It's built by pouring one part tequila, two parts grapefruit, and a half part lime juice into a mixing glass and shaking. If you'd prefer a bubblier version, Martin suggests swapping in a refreshing grapefruit soda and stirring it in the glass to mix.

Harvey Wallbanger

A close up of a Harvey Wallbanger cocktail with a cherry garnish

The Harvey Wallbanger is a mainstay of classic cocktail culture. And according to Annemarie Schumacher, an award-winning event planner and founder of Make Every Day an Event, the citrusy drink is also the perfect accompaniment for a midday meal.

Despite its storied-sounding name, the drink still only uses three ingredients: orange juice, vodka, and Galiano liqueur. "The vanilla-anise flavor of the liqueur brings a spiciness to the libation that is anything but dull," she says. "It's flavorful, it's light, and it's perfect to pair with all of your brunch favorites."

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A Classic Spritz

A close up of friends cheersing their spritz cocktails

Planning an appropriate brunch drink menu may involve including a low-alcohol option. Fortunately, there's one that comes together with very little preparation time.

"If I want something lower proof, I go with a classic spritz, which basically involves white wine, some sort of Italian Aperitivo bitter, and finishing it with club soda," says Martin. "It's a drink you can sip on all afternoon."

But don't feel limited if you're going for a different flavor profile or working with other ingredients. "There's a ton of variety and room to play in terms of modifiers and flavoring components for spritzes," Chris Chernock, beverage director at asterid by Ray Garcia in Los Angeles, tells Best Life. "Sometimes, I use Aperol and prosecco, and sometimes, it's vermouth and Lambrusco. The options are endless."

White or Red Sangria

A pitcher of sangria with two glasses, filled with fruit

Brunch should be enjoyed, even if you're the host. That's where batched cocktails can be a huge time-saver—especially a crowd favorite like sangria. And while a simple preparation will certainly make guests happy, a slightly stepped-up white sangria recipe uses Thai basil to bring in a fresh, aromatic boost and add complexity.

"The Thai basil citrus simple syrup in this drink adds a unique twist to the classic white sangria, giving it a refreshing and aromatic flavor profile," says J.J. Henao, vice president of operations at The Granola Bar restaurant group. "Pair this delightful beverage with brunch items like fruit salad, smoked salmon bagels, and eggs Benedict for a perfect combination of flavors."

To make the special simple syrup, combine a cup each of water and sugar, the zest of one orange and one lemon, and six to eight Thai basil leaves in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until all the sugar dissolves, let cool, and strain out the leaves. When you're ready to serve, combine a bottle of Pinot Grigio with one cup of the basil simple syrup, a cup of fresh orange juice, and ice in a pitcher and stir.

However, depending on what you're preparing for dishes, red sangria might be worth considering instead. "The blend of red wine, brandy, and citrus fruits creates a more profound and complex taste that pairs exceptionally well with heartier brunch fare like egg dishes, charcuterie, or grilled meats," says Joanne Gallagher, co-founder of food blog Inspired Taste.

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John Daly

Glass of Arnold Palmer
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Sometimes, the baseline for a great cocktail can lie in an everyday non-alcoholic drink, such as the Arnold Palmer. In this case, simply add some bourbon to the classic summertime sipper and serve.

"As a man who came of drinking age in the South, I will always feel comfortable with a well-made John Daly for brunch," says Clay Sears, head bartender at Virginia's in New York City, tells Best Life. "In my opinion, it's a no-brainer: Who doesn't want a refreshingly light and boozy iced tea and lemonade with a heavy side of shrimp and grits or a loaded biscuit?"

Beer-Based Cocktails

beer, shandy cocktail with lemon
Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock

Those who want something lower in alcohol and are short on bottles in their home bar may still be in luck if they happen to have beer on hand. Martin suggests making a shandy using your go-to lager or sour beer.

"It's just a matter of mixing your favorite beer with your favorite carbonated drink: Think ginger beer, citrusy aranciata soda, or fizzy lemonade," she says. "It's so simple, and its whole point is to be refreshing in a way you enjoy!"

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A Coffee-Based Cocktail

espresso martini on a bar with espresso beans falling into it
Maksym Fesenko / Shutterstock

Coffee is a must-have for most people at breakfast and a go-to order for many at brunch. Why not enjoy it in cocktail form?

"When all else fails, an espresso martini does the trick," says Martin. "It's become so associated with evening and late-night cocktails that sometimes people forget it works for brunch too!" She adds that this is another option you can batch ahead of time in a pitcher to serve later.

According to Drew Shader, founder and CEO of Atomic Provisions restaurant group, you can also tweak other cocktail classics to incorporate java. "A simple and delicious spiked iced latte will offer all the pick-me-up brunch guests need while also packing a fun, boozy punch," he says.

To make it, simply combine a coffee liquor like Kahlúa, vanilla vodka, fresh cold-brew coffee, and milk in a mixing glass and shake. Then, pour it over ice and serve immediately.

A Madeover Mimosa

closeup of champagne being poured into mimosa
Moussa81 / iStock

Classic mimosas come together easily, but they're also not very exciting. To liven up the flavor profile, lean on some other fresh ingredients.

"Try elevating your brunch game with a tropical upgrade, like adding fruity notes of pineapple juice, mixed with the tartness of cranberry juice, for a zippy twist on a classic mimosa," says Matt Foster, beverage consultant for Culinary Canvas. "It's an easy-to-make refreshing drink while also being approachable."

If you're in the mood for something a little sweet, you can still incorporate peach juice in place of cranberry. Simply fill a flute half full of sparkling white wine, add two ounces of pineapple juice, and top with one once of cranberry or peach juice.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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