SIGNATURE DRINKS start with at breakfast with Claremont Cafe's Jane's Addiction, East Coast Grill's personalized Bloody Mary and Tremont 647's Breakfast Martini.
(Globe Staff Photo / Christina Caturano)
Globe Staff Photo / Christina Caturano
Some call it a guilty pleasure. Others celebrate it as a cure for the common hangover. OK, so maybe booze with breakfast isnt your first thought on Sunday morning. But Boston enjoys its libations, and lately even the purest breakfast fans are choosing spiked smoothies and espresso martinis to accompany their scrambled eggs. Brunch drinks have moved well beyond the classic mimosas and Bloody Marys, and restaurants are expanding their weekend brunch drink menus with offerings like Champagne Pick Me Up and Corpse Reviver. Some places are handing off the bartending duties to customers, in the form of make-your-own-Bloody-Mary bars. (In a slightly different twist, Spire in Boston just began offering tasting flights of four different Bloody Marys at its weekend brunch.) And Cambridge restaurateurs are still giddy over the citys decision last year that allows them to serve alcohol as early as 11 a.m. on Sundays. With so many choices, it is obviously time for a road map to help you navigate Bostons brunch-drink bonanza.
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East Coast Grill - The Worlds Largest Bloody Mary Bar
Sunday brunch is all about relaxing. But were not too lazy to play bartender if we get the chance.
The make-your-own-Bloody-Mary arrangement at East Coast Grill is a three-step process: Choose your vodka; select your base (plain tomato juice, spicy tomato juice, or Clamato and add your ingredients. This last part can be dizzying, since youre faced with more than 20 options, including cucumber spears, roasted habaneros, fresh horseradish, barbecue rub, and whole-grain mustard.
Its tempting use everything especially since they all complement the Latin-themed brunch, with dishes like fish tacos and a breakfast platter with eggs, mango salad, rice and beans, and fried plantains.
But exercise caution. I once loaded up a Bloody Mary with so much horseradish that I had heartburn until Tuesday. Also, be wary of the small plastic animals that decorate the rim of the glasses. A pink giraffe once fell into my Bloody Mary, and when I recovered her, she was missing a leg which I can only assume I ingested.
East Coast Grill. 1271 Cambridge, Cambridge. 617-491-6568
Brunch hours: Sun 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
A few words on the Bloody Mary bar: Slightly overwhelming.
Tremont 647 - Breakfast Martini
Even the most robust imbibers can cringe at the thought of a martini before noon. But the hipster staffers at Tremont 647 who dress in pajamas for brunch pull off a breakfast martini that my dining companion called sunshine in a glass.
The cocktail blends Stoli Ohranj vodka, orange juice, and Cointreau, and serves up the concoction in a large sugar-rimmed martini glass. The thing looks like a fancy cup of OJ, but dont be deceived. The Breakfast Martini is strong, but it can also complement anything from the apple pancakes with homemade sausage to the breakfast pizza, topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, potatoes, scallions, and eggs.
As our bartender, clad in his flannel jammies, concluded: Its liquor. It goes with everything.
If for some reason the Breakfast Martini doesnt fill your sails, try Mattys V-8 Bloody Mary ($6.50), which bar manager Matthew Ryan creates using vodka infused with eight different vegetables, including habanero and jalapeno peppers. Ryan garnishes his masterpieces with pickled green beans, claiming that the vinegar from the beans matches nicely with the spicy vodka so youre not overpowered by the chilies, he said.
647 Tremont St., Boston. 617-266-4600.
Brunch hours: Sat 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Sun 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
A few words on the Breakfast Martini: Citrusy. Strong.
Tonic - The Bloody Bar
Even before I made it past the hostess, a Bloody Mary was on my mind. In a small frame hanging near the huge metal doors, the beverage was described as the prefect cure for a hangover, an aphrodisiac, and good for your heart.
Tonic says it built its Sunday brunch (a $14.95 buffet served on pool tables) around the Bloody Mary, with six variations of tomato juice and all the trimmings for amateur mixologists to create the perfect cocktail.
Tonics Bloody Bar offers a choice of vodka and fixings that include hot sauce, horseradish, celery stalks, lemons, limes, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, olives, and jalapenos.
With fewer choices than East Coast Grill, its all about adjusting ratios. Plus, bartending novices are more likely to end up with a drink that actually tastes like a Bloody Mary.
Who needs solid food?
Tonic.1316 Commonwealth Ave., Brighton. 617-566-6699.
Brunch hours: Sun 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
A few words on the Bloody Bar: Fewer fixings than East Coast Grill. Still fun.
Claremont Café - Jane's Addiction
Janes Addiction is a feast for the eyes and the palate it tastes as good as it looks. We were admiring the strawberries and blueberries suspended in clear liquid when a gray-haired woman suddenly appeared at the side of our small breakfast table.
What are you drinking? she demanded. I was going to jump your table for a taste.
Janes Addiction, named for waitress Jane Granfort, is definitely a crowd pleaser. It combines Sauvignon Blanc, ginger ale, sour apple pucker liquor, Cointreau, blueberries, strawberries, maraschino cherries, and slices of lemon and lime. The result is kind of a boozy fruit cup, minus the syrupy sweetness.
Its nice to have a drink on Sunday with your breakfast, Granfort said. It takes the edge off Monday morning.
535 Columbus Ave., Boston. 617-247-9001.
Brunch hours: Sat-Sun 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
A few words on Janes Addiction: Light and fruity.
Brasserie Jo - Kir Royale
We cant lie. The Kir Royale is a ladys drink. But its still worth a try.
At the upscale Brasserie Jo, where enormous bottles of champagne line the bar, the Kir Royale combines Deutz or Pommery champagne with Crème de Cassis, a blood-red sweet black currant-flavored liqueur.
This French concoction is rich, smooth, and pairs well with the chefs omelets or ham, egg, and cheese crepes.
If the mimosa was the breakfast drink 20 years ago, the Kir Royale has easily taken its place, according to restaurant manager Riccardo Coluzzi.
Its a little classier, a little more interesting, Coluzzi said. Its the new breakfast drink.
Brasserie Jo at the Colonnade Hotel, 120 Huntington Ave., Boston. 617-425-3240.
Brunch hours: Sat and Sun noon-3 p.m.
A few words on the Kir Royale: Decadent. Sweet.
Christophers - Sunrise Smoothie
Who says brunch cocktails arent good for you? At Christophers, the Sunrise Smoothie features what the restaurant calls a tempting, thick, healthy blend of fresh strawberries, bananas, and orange juice. For a quick trip to the Caribbean during these harsh winter days, Christophers recommends adding Captain Morgans Rum to the mix.
The result is a glass of creamy goodness that goes down quick and stands on its own. Be careful, though you barely notice the alcohol. And order early, because these popular drinks can run out before brunch ends at the spacious Cambridge eatery.
For some people, drinking on Sunday continues the party from Saturday night, said Christophers co-owner Holly Heslop. And then theres those who have no intention of having a cocktail with brunch until they see one go by and say, Damn that looks good!"
1920 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. 617-876-9180.
Brunch hours: Sun 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
A few words on the Sunrise Smoothie: Smooth and creamy.
Price: $3.95, $5.95 with Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum
The Blue Room - Nicks Sangria 22
The Blue Room is known as a place where blue moods get left behind, and at this Cambridge eatery, where the khaki crowd rules, imbibing at brunch seems like the natural thing to do. So its fitting to begin Sunday brunch with Nicks Sangria 22: a festive, fruity concoction that mixes brandy, triple sec, Crème de Cassis, port, red wine, cinnamon sticks, lemon, lime, cranberry juice, and fresh-squeezed orange juice.
This full-bodied elixir caters to all taste buds. The eggs with Asiago cheese and plum tomatoes bring out the brews cinnamon flavors; while the smoked five-spice pork ribs highlight the red wine. Both dishes are featured at the eclectic $21 brunch buffet, along with treats like grits, avocado quesadillas, and mango muffins.
The Blue Room.
1 Kendall Square, Cambridge. 617-494-9034.
Brunch hours: Sun 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
A few words on the Sangria: Fruity. Full-bodied.
Price: $4.50 glass.
75 Chestnut - Green Apple Mimosa
Samantha Miller scooped out fresh green apple pulp and plopped it into a glass. She poured in champagne and pushed the fizzy cocktail across the bar as live jazz filled the small Beacon Hill eatery.
Suddenly, I was drinking at noon on a Sunday. I began to ignore my poached eggs and the Dick Cheney look-alike sitting behind me.
Its OK, coaxed Miller. Its a day off and a treat.
The Green Apple Mimosa, made with Granny Smith apples, is lighter than classic mimosas made with orange juice and champagne. And its tart enough to cut through 75 Chestnuts heavy brunch offerings, like its signature Eggs Sardou: sautéed artichoke hearts, ham, marinated white anchovies, truffle essence topped with two poached eggs and then smothered, of course, in hollandaise.
75 Chestnut St., Boston. 617-227-2175.
Brunch hours: Sun 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
A few words on the Green Apple Mimosa: Tart twist on a classic.
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