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Brunch Ideas

Brunch Ideas

Brunch Ideas: What’s Your Best Mimosa Recipe?

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If you’re familiar with our criteria for what makes the best brunches in San Francisco, you know that in my book bottomless mimosas are just a starting point. The best brunch places mix it up – bottomless Bloody Marys, bellinis and whatever you call champagne mixed with grapefruit, pineapple juice and all of the other fruit juices out there. So here’s the question of the day for all you Brunch Club fans out there – what’s your best mimosa recipe?The great thing about mimosas is that you can get drunk on them before noon and still look classy, but there are a few mimosa variants out there that can:

  • Get you drunker
  • Look classier
  • Both

Here’s my recommendations – let me know yours:

French 75
Doesn’t that name just exude class? Even your mom would have these at Easter brunch without asking questions. Of course, once she put back a couple she’d realize she’s hammered because it’s basically just hard liquor and champagne with a little juice.

The recipe’s simple – you’re going to need a shot of gin or Cognac, a couple of shots of champagne, a little bit of simple syrup and lemon juice. Shake in a cocktail shaker with ice (or just pour in a pint glass with ice and stir if you’re not classy enough to have a cocktail shaker), then pour into a champagne glass sans ice. Now pretend you’re having a picnic under the Eiffel tower and get hammered like the French do. Voila.

Champagne With Fruit
Tired of diluting your champagne with all those unnecessary juices? Here’s a simple mimosa recipe: pour a glass of champagne and drop in a strawberry/blueberry/raspberry. Now you’ve gone from early morning alcoholic to classy bro(ad). You’re welcome.

Tequila Sunrise
“You’re going off the rails, guy from the internet who writes about brunch! There’s no way you can justify drinking tequila before noon!” Wrong. This is why I write about drinking in the morning and you just read about it. For those of you unfamiliar, a tequila sunrise is made by pouring a shot (or two – definitely two) of tequila into a glass, topping off with orange juice and then floating a little grenadine on the top so it looks pretty.

Here’s the secret: just do that in a mimosa glass and it’s so classy looking people won’t even question it. If they do, just call it a sunrise mimosa or something. Then find people who don’t question your classy drinks and hang out with them instead.

Bonus Idea: Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shot
I’ll admit I stole this idea from Stock In Trade, so if you like it go get brunch there. This is just half Fireball and half Bailey’s. It’s delicious.

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Brunch Ideas

Brunch Ideas: Apres Brunch

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The saddest thing about brunch is that it must inevitably end (and I don’t mean in spirit… even the most liberal of brunch places cut off the bottomless around 3pm). That means that you’re now into the mid afternoon with a nice buzz a full stomach, but what are you to do?

Luckily, San Francisco has plenty of options to keep that buzz going through the day and keep having a great time.

Dolores Park
If it’s nice outside, definitely head for your closest park, and if your closest park isn’t Dolo, head there instead. Try to make sure you all end up in the same place, as we’ve all spent 20 minutes getting bad directions to that spot “near the bathroom… like by that one tree” from our drink friend who’s got spotty cell reception.

Once you get there, remember that drugs and alcohol are illegal in the park. Obviously light up and drink your case of Bud Light anyway (this is not legal advice, or at least not good legal advice), but do it while appreciating that the police aren’t interested in writing you a ticket unless you’re belligerent. When you’re done, use your appreciation to pick up your stuff so you don’t leave the place covered in trash and ruin the lax enforcement of open container laws for everyone.

Karaoke
About 75% of the time on a Saturday during the post-brunch hours, you’re going to find yours truly at Encore, a karaoke bar on California in Nob Hill. When you get to the right address and see a flower shop instead of a bar, fear not, you’re not so drunk you’re hallucinating (I mean, probably) – take the stairs on the left up to the actual bar, which is on the second floor.

Encore’s a good choice because karaoke starts at 5 and you’ll have the place to yourself to really embarrass yourself before people start crowding in (or at least that’s my strategy… I guess posting this publicly probably doesn’t help that). If you can’t wait until 5, the Mint in the Castro has ‘oke all day.

Just remember, if you’re terrible at singing go with 90s punk that will evoke nostalgia – a little Blink 182 always gets the crowd behind you.

Shabu Shabu
At some point I’m going to start a site dedicated to shabu shabu, because it’s basically the bottomless mimosa brunch of dinner (trust me, that sentence makes sense). Shabu shabu is a form of Japanese dining in which you’re given a plate of raw meat and a large bowl of boiling broth. You dip your meat in the broth (you should actually swish it around – shabu shabu means “swish swish in Japanese”) until it’s cooked, then you eat it.

You’re probably confused with what that has to do with bottomless brunch. While the delicious meats cooked in a salty broth could stand alone, the best thing about shabu shabu is that most establishments have a reasonable deal for all you can eat and all you can drink. That makes it the perfect option for the bottomless double-header, which you of course shouldn’t attempt unless you’re a professional.

Almost universally, the bottomless at any shabu shabu place will offer sake (the cheapest and lowest end they can find, but you’re not picky) and a light Japanese beer like Sapporo or Asahi. This will inevitably leads to sake bombs, which you need not be shy about because trust me, the restaurant staff has heard more white people chanting “ichi ni san sake bomb” than you can shake a stick at, though probably don’t shake sticks at drunks.

A couple of shabu places I can recommend are Mum’s in Japantown and Happy Shabu Shabu in Hayes Valley. Both do bottomless – if you’re going to try another one, call in and check first (and if it’s good, let me know about it).

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Brunch Ideas

Brunch Ideas: DIY Bottomless Brunch

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While I’m deeply attached to Brunch Club’s longstanding tradition of trying a new bottomless brunch in SF every weekend, I recognize that going out drinking every Saturday or Sunday afternoon can get pricey. Doubly so if brunch leads to karaoke, which then leads to bottomless dinner at shabu shabu (post on that coming eventually – my love for shabu runs almost as deep as my love for brunch).

Cost aside, there are some weekends you may not want to leave the house at brunch time – maybe your college is playing a football game that’s not important enough for bars to show or you just moved into a new house and want to christen it with brunch. That’s cool; while going out for bottomless brunch is great, it’s also incredibly easy to do yourself at home.

The Planning

There’s not a lot of stuff you need to get right to throw a successful brunch, but it’s imperative that you not screw up the few critical things.

First off, get some RSVPs. You know as well as I that people will flake at the last minute, but you at least need to know whether the group is going to be closer to 5 or 20. No need to send out save the date cards – just create a Facebook event or send out a quick email and ask people to respond. You’ll want to schedule brunch around noon to make sure people have time to get up and get there. Beyond that, if you’re doing brunch for some sort of special occasion, definitely include that in the invite as well.

Second, get people to bring stuff. If you’ve got friends with culinary skills, let them craft their own breakfast dishes or come over early to help with your prep. For those who you don’t trust near an open flame, there’s still lots they can bring:

  • Champagne
  • OJ
  • Other juices
  • Coffee cake, croissants, other pastries
  • Champagne
  • No really you can’t have enough champagne
  • Fruit salad

Now all you really need is a table and chairs. These things sound simple, but I’ve shown up to a lot of hosted meals where the host forgot that his small table with two chairs won’t actually fit his guests. Don’t be that guy. Make sure you have a table that’s a little bit bigger than you need. If you can’t find one of those, get a folding table or two to supplement your main one. Then make sure you have enough chairs – again, beg/borrow/steal folding chairs (or buy them I guess) as necessary – including a few extras in case people bring unexpected guests.

The Cooking

Cooking a delicious brunch doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, I’ll give you a couple of options to choose from based on your culinary expertise.

Easy Brunch

Buy a bunch of bagels (fresh, obviously) and bread plus some cream cheese and jams to go with. Get a fruit plate. Buy some coffee cake. Scramble up a dozen eggs (or however many you need for your group… figure two per person to be safe). Cook bacon, but not in the microwave because for the love of god have some standards. Voila – you’re done. Nobody came over expecting Michelin dining anyway, and if you’re a terrible cook your friends will probably just be excited that when they show up they find your house is still intact and not just a pile of ashes.

Professional Brunch

I’m using the word “professional” loosely here, because the bottom line is cooking isn’t actually that hard, and if you can follow simple, step by step instructions, you can impress people. The key here is to hit the right ratio of classiness to effort. You’d be surprised how many foods look really impressive but are easy to make – lots of those below.

First, get your breads. Delicious, carb-filled, alcohol-absorbing-so-your-guests-remember-the-end-of-brunch breads. Honestly, fresh bagels are still the best idea here. Everyone loves fresh bagels. Croissants are great too, as is a fresh loaf of bread or two. Unless you’re a great baker, you should just go to your local bakery and buy these things, because baking is actually way harder than most other brunch cooking.

Next up, you’re gonna want your egg dishes. Lots of options here, including the aforementioned huge plate of scrambled eggs (but maybe throw some cheese in them just to be classy).

  • Omelette Bar – This requires more time and effort, since you’ve gotta crank these things out one by one, but omelettes aren’t that hard to make. If you’re going to go this route, prep your ingredients beforehand. Cut up veggies (mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, avocado), meats (sausage, bacon, ham, salami) and cheese and put them in bowls, so folks can see their options and make their choices.
  • Baked Eggs – These fall under the category of things that are easy but classy. All you have to do is get a muffin tin (if you don’t have one, get this one – silicone is way better than metal for this). Now you’re basically just going to scramble a bunch of eggs, mix in ingredients, dump into the tin and throw in the oven. This is a good recipe to follow, but you can swap out the ingredients for whatever you want.

eggs brunc

Alongside your eggs and breads, you’re going to need meat. Here’s the good news – meat is easy. Buy breakfast sausages and bacon, throw in a pan on medium heat until cooked, then serve on a big plate.

Last but not least (arguably most, in fact) is the sweet stuff. In my humble opinion (kidding – I’m very vain and hold my own opinion in high regard), the best choice here is waffles. If you don’t have a waffle maker, you can get one for <$20. Once people start to arrive, you can start cranking these out – once you get the timing down, they require almost no attention. “But I don’t know how to make waffle batter,” you say. Here’s the trick – waffles are always delicious as long as you don’t burn them, so instead of using a fancy waffle mix recipe, buy Bisquick and follow the instructions on the side, which are all of three steps (make sure you have eggs and milk).

If you don’t want to go the waffle route, you can also use Bisquick for waffles’ inferior cousin, pancakes. You could also get much fancier and do french toast, but that’s too time consuming to be practical. Coffee cake is a good option that you can make or buy ahead of time and just heat up the morning of.

The Drinks

Go with your staples here – mimosas and Bloody Marys.

For mimosas, remember that the correct ratio of champagne to juice is in the 95/5% range. You want almost entirely champagne with a little juice for color, so it makes for a better Instagram picture. Bonus points if you get some raspberries/blueberries/strawberries and drop one in the bottom of the glass to make things look extra classy.

On the Bloody Mary side of things, while it may be tempting to make your own BM mix from scratch, there’s a ton of options and that can get overwhelming. I definitely won’t fault you for doing that, but there are also some great pre-made mixes you can buy. Definitely stay away from the cheap stuff in the alcohol isle of the supermarket that comes in a big plastic jug – instead, spring for something like this stuff, which is awesome. Also, grab some of their pickle spears and drop those in your glasses as a delicious garnish. Instead of pickles (or in addition to them), a slice of cooked bacon in a Bloody Mary is never a bad choice.

In both cases, for ease of serving I recommend making these by the pitcher.

The other drink of great importance is coffee. Some people manage to survive without this, which I don’t understand at all, but for those non-morning/very hung over people, it’s a necessity. If you don’t already know how to make coffee, just call up your local Starbucks the day before and tell them you need to pick up coffee for however many people – they’ll hook you up with a big container of it.

The Brunch

When people show up

Timeline

I’ve told you what you need to do here, but just as important is when you do it.

5-7 days before

Invite people! Create a Facebook event or send out a text to at least get a high level idea of whether it’s a good weekend for a brunch of if everyone’s going to be out of town for something.

3 days before

Confirm your invites – follow up and ask people who haven’t already given a definite yes to let you know if they’re coming and/or respond to the FB invite. Do this in the morning, so by the end of the day you have a rough headcount.

2 days before

Make sure you have all of the aforementioned supplies. As a reminder, these include:

  • Enough table space for everyone
  • Enough chairs for everyone
  • Plates, cups, silverware (disposable is a great choice here to save you having to clean up)
  • All of your ingredients and lots of champagne
  • Pitchers

The day before

Remind people! Shoot everyone a text and let them know that if they don’t show up everyone will talk shit about them at brunch (or maybe some other, nicer reminder if this isn’t how you interact with your friends).

Pre-make anything you can. You can scramble and chill all the ingredients for your baked eggs plus get your waffle batter ready. If you’re baking anything else, you can either prep it beforehand and bake in the morning or just bake ahead of time and heat up (though baking in the morning makes your house smell great, which never hurts).

One hour before

Start cooking! Start baking things as necessary, and if everything’s already baked, then put your oven on low and use it to keep things warm. That way you can start cranking out eggs, bacon and sausage without worrying about the temperature.

30 minutes before

Get your first pitchers of drinks ready, set the table, and then start cranking out waffles or pancakes.

champagne brunch

The appointed time

When guests start to arrive, ply them with liquor (I mean, offer them a beverage). Let folks mill around until you get a critical mass of people, then start putting food on the table – people will follow the smell. Once everyone’s seated, your main job is to make sure that empty pitchers get refilled immediately. Beyond that, eat, drink and be merry!

After brunch

Too many options for me to cover here, so I’ll leave you with the easiest one – take a nap and leave the cleaning for future you.

 

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