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Boston Bartenders Describe the Ultimate Brunch Cocktail

What's the ideal drink to wash down brunch? Local bartenders share their thoughts. This is the seventh installment of the Breakfast Week Q&A series.

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Mike Wyatt

Mike Wyatt (square)

"I'd say the bloody mary, but that's instant heartburn for me. Light and refreshing is key — something like an Aperol spritz." —Mike Wyatt, general manager and beverage director of Ward 8

Image credit: Provided

Wesley Krell

Wesley Krell

"A well thought-out spicy bloody mary — lots of pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and freshly cracked black pepper." —Wesley Krell, beverage director of The Backroom at Moody's Delicatessen

Image credit: Provided

Sam Treadway

Sam Treadway (square)

"Best brunch cocktail is definitely a Bocce Ball...just two parts OJ to one part amaretto." —Sam Treadway, co-owner and bar manager of JourneymanBackbarAmes Street Deli, and Study

Image credit: Provided

Jackson Cannon

Jackson Cannon (square)

"Ramos Gin Fizz — hands down most elegant way to start any day!" —Jackson Cannon, co-owner and bar director of The Hawthorne

Image credit: Melissa Ostrow

Mike Wuschke

Mike Wuschke (square)

"A good bloody mary with plenty of toppings. Our chef, Robert Tobin, has his own bloody mary mix recipe that we use at TAMO. It incorporates peppa sauce (which is a Jamaican A1-style sauce), regular A1 sauce, and fresh ground pepper." —Mike Wuschke, lead bartender at TAMO Bistro & Bar

Image credit: Provided

Justin Lipata

Justin Lipata (square)

"'Gansett tall boy and a shot of bourbon. Bloody marys are overrated." —Justin Lipata, bar manager at Bukowski Tavern (Cambridge)

Image credit: Provided

Lauren Vigdor

Lauren Vigdor

"The ultimate brunch cocktail is a Death in the Afternoon. The bubbles keep it light and brunch-appropriate, while the absinthe helps to cure any lingering hangover symptoms." —Lauren Vigdor, bar manager at River Bar

Image credit: Provided

Geoff Thompson

Geoff Thompson (square)

"Monkey-mosa — a pint glass with ice, Victory Golden Monkey Belgian style tripel, Combier Curacao, and fresh orange juice. Stir, enjoy!" —Geoff Thompson, beer czar at Foundry on Elm

Image credit: Provided

Derek McCusker

Derek McCusker (square)

"In my personal opinion, there is no better way to kick off a brunch than with a Corpse Reviver #2. It wakes you right back up and has the perfect balance of a refreshing cocktail that I would enjoy after working a long shift behind the bar." —Derek McCusker, bar manager at Saloon

Image credit: Provided

Nick Giannotti

Nick Giannotti (square)

"I had a really good breakfast cocktail recently. It had cold espresso, sugar, and Fernet Branca." —Nick Giannotti, bar manager at The Tip Tap Room

Image credit: Provided

Michael Ray

Michael Ray (square)

"Bloody mary — many variations, build your own options, etc. allow the guest to be creative and adventurous." —Michael Ray, bartender at Outlook Kitchen and Bar

Image credit: Provided

Todd Lipman

Todd Lipman (square)

"My go-to brunch cocktail is a Ramos Gin Fizz. It is so satisfying texturally, it’s bright and citrusy, and it’s a fun rarity. Also, because of the egg, we can consider it breakfast, right?" —Todd Lipman, head sommelier of Bistro du Midi

Image credit: Provided

Jake Dagdigian

Jake Dagdigian (square)

"Citrus mimosa." —Jake Dagdigian, bartender at Precinct Kitchen + Bar

Image credit: Provided

Collin Driscoll

Collin Driscoll

"I have to go with the classic choice — bloody mary. It's long been the symbol of weekend indulgence. It drinks like a meal and has a well-deserved reputation for being the perfect thing to help you rebound from a wild Saturday night. It also stands alone as one of the only cocktails that can be imbibed in the daytime without anyone checking their watch to see if it's five o'clock yet. One of my favorite things about a bloody mary is that no two are ever the same. Every bartender has a secret ingredient or over-the-top garnish that makes theirs special. I’m partial to ours at Bastille Kitchen; I think the habanero pickle juice helps make it a perfect eye opener." —Collin Driscoll, assistant general manager and beverage director at Bastille Kitchen

Image credit: Provided

Curtis Hancock

Curtis Hancock

"My favorite brunch cocktail is a Bamboo. It's light and refreshingly dry, which is something that I think works well in the mornings, and a little bit of nuttiness from the sherry works well with sweeter brunch fare."

Bamboo (Louis Eppinger, 1890's)

  • 1 dash angostura bitters
  • 2 dash orange bitters
  • 1.5 oz amontillado sherry
  • 1.5 oz dry vermouth
  • Orange twist


—Curtis Hancock, bar manager at Catalyst

Image credit: Provided

Brahm Callahan

Brahm Callahan

"The Irishman in Italy [at Harvest]. It's made with fresh grapefruit juice, Aperol, and Jameson. It’s a smaller portion of Jameson, and the lower alcohol of Aperol (11%) makes it refreshing and crushable. Aperol is also an appetite stimulant, so that should help those who might have imbibed a little too much the night before!" —Brahm Callahan, beverage director of Himmel Hospitality Group (Grill 23 & BarHarvestPost 390)

Image credit: Provided

Paulo Pereira

Paulo Pereira

"The easy answer here would be a bloody mary. Don't get me wrong; I love me a well-made bloody mary/maria/red snapper. The recipe chef Jon [Kopacz] and I make at Brass Union is one of my favorite creations since we've opened, but I think nothing says ‘brunch’ like a Ramos Gin Fizz. The time and care put into making one just takes it to another level. Oh, and it is just plain delicious!" —Paulo Pereira, beverage director and general manager at Brass Union

Image credit: Provided

Davide Crusoe

Davide Crusoe (square)

"OK, I know I am supposed to say a bloody mary, but I just can’t! As a chef, let’s just say that there may have been some brunch shifts that were a bit tough to wake up to due to the evening prior’s festivities. One of my mentors helped me 'reenergize' with my favorite brunch cocktail: The Chavel – easy, delicious, and very effective.

  • Lemon wedge
  • Kosher salt, for rimming the glass
  • 3 oz. tomato juice
  • 6 dashes hot sauce (Sriracha is my choice; you use your favorite)
  • 1 tsp horseradish (this helps explain the bloodshot eyes)
  • 1  bottle beer (whatever the waiter will get from the bar)
  • 1 oz. tequila (depends on how rough the night before was)
Rub the lemon wedge around the rim of a glass; reserve the lemon wedge. Pour some sea salt out onto a plate, and rub the rim of the glass in the salt to coat. Fill the glass with ice; add tomato juice, hot sauce, and horseradish — and beer to fill. Drop in the lemon wedge. Serve with a shot of tequila, if it was that kind of night. Now we can begin service…#chefslife" —Davide Crusoe, beverage director at Chopps American Bar and Grill

Image credit: Provided

Sean Farrell

Sean Farrell (square)

"First of all, let me start by saying that I love brunch. I love going out to brunch, and I actually love working brunch, which I've found is an anomaly among bartenders. Brunch just feels a little luxurious, ya know? It's definitely about excess. I always say that unless you have three glasses in front of you at all times, you're probably doing it wrong. Of course when you mention brunch cocktails, most people think two things: bloody mary or mimosa. Sure, both are well and good, but neither are my go-to. My personal brunch favorite is an Americano cocktail. Not to be confused with the espresso drink of the same name, the Americano is a bracing, low-proof, and easy-to-make cocktail (and it's a great way to kick-start your appetite for the generous meal that lies ahead.) The star of the drink is Campari, the bright red, bittersweet aperitif that has gained considerable recognition as Negroni has soared in popularity over the last few years. In fact, you could think of the Americano as kind of a session Negroni. It's just equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth, topped with soda water and served tall with an orange twist. Easy, right? So if you want to impress your bartender the next time you’re out for brunch, forget the bloody or mimosa and ask for an Americano." —Sean Farrell, bar manager at The Independent

Image credit: Provided

Todd Maul

Todd Maul (square)

"A well-made Tom Collins." —Todd Maul, bar director/partner at Cafe ArtScience

Image credit: Wayne Chinnock

Seth Freidus

Seth Freidus (square)

"My beverage choice for brunch is always a pilsner, however the Monday morning cocktail from William Tarling’s Cafe Royal Cocktail Book is a juicy, refreshing Fernet Branca-based cocktail that is amazing for brunch." —Seth Freidus, bar manager at Alden & Harlow

Image credit: Kristin Teig

State Park Team

State Park team

"Campari and orange juice — simple elegance, complex flavor, and lower proof." —Leah Nadel, Tyler Sundet, and Alon Munzer, respectively chef de cuisine, chef/partner, and partner of State Park

Image credit: Leah Nadel, Tyler Sundet, and Alon Munzer/Provided

Kerem Benyamini

Kerem Benyamini

"Honestly, it’s the bloody mary. I know, I know, it’s so obvious, but a really good bloody mary mix is hard to make, and only a few establishments have perfected it." —Kerem Benyamini, beverage director at Rowes Wharf Bar & Rowes Wharf Sea Grille at Boston Harbor Hotel

Image credit: Provided

Peter Szigeti

Peter Szigeti

"The best classic brunch cocktail for me is either a bloody mary — no fancy garnish, just some salt rim, fresh celery, and fresh cut pepper on top — or a breakfast martini with London style dry gin, lemon juice, Cointreau, and orange marmalade, garnished with a piece of fresh baked croissant or a sweet cookie :) Euro-style, baby!" —Peter Szigeti, beverage director at Committee

Image credit: Provided

Julie Re

Julie Re

"The best thing about brunch is that you never have to look at the clock to see if it’s an okay time to have a drink. During brunch it’s good to feel like you’re hydrating but also enjoying a cocktail that packs a punch." —Julie Re, lead bartender at The Palm

Re thinks her drink, "Wakey, Wakey," is the perfect brunch cocktail — Ketel Citron, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and Fresca.

Image credit: Provided

Tom Dargon

Tom Dargon

"I love a good bloody mary. Love the 'build your own' concept. The more outlandish and over the top, the better. If you tell me I can use a slice of pizza or a burger slider as a garnish, I'm all in. If I'm not feeling as indulgent and need something lighter, I love 'The Remedy,' which is .5oz elder flower liqueur, .5oz fresh lemon juice, .5oz fresh lime juice, and a pint glass full of ice, topped with Coors Light (or Lookout Farms Hard Cider)." —Tom Dargon, general manager of BOKX109

Image credit: Provided

David Danforth

David Danforth (2)

"Fernet over fernet with a splash of fernet! For guests I recommend the classic Sophia Loren: 4 Roses bourbon, rosemary-infused Aperol, and grapefruit juice, served in an Old Fashioned glass. Our new Scarborough Fair is getting a lot of attention. It's very light, it features fresh citrus and aromatic herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme), and it's quite refreshing." —David Danforth, beverage director at The Quarry

Image credit: Provided

Mike Morrissey

Mike Morrissey

"Who doesn't love a good bloody mary?" —Mike Morrissey, bartender at Gather

Image credit: Provided

Kate Rickard

Kate Rickard

"The Man-Mosa, served in a pint glass at Bear In Boots for an extra $2." —Kate Rickard, co-owner of Bear in Boots Gastropub

Image credit: Provided

Silas Axtell

Silas Axtell

"The ultimate brunch cocktail is one that can make right all the mistakes made the night before. The kind of cocktail that makes your mouth stop tasting the regret stained on your palate. Something that can help you open your eyes a little bit more and make that sun seem less like a burden and more like a warm embrace of the the heavens, forgiving you for the damage you've done to yourself. A little sweet, a little spice, and a refreshing blast of the hair of the dog that bit you. I'm talking, of course, about Gin and Juice: fresh carrot to impart the sweetness and valuable nutrients, ginger to cleanse the regret and clear your senses, lime to balance these components with a refreshing acidity, and gin to ease the pain." —Silas Axtell, bar manager at Townsman

Image credit: Provided

Gregory Weinstock

Gregory Weinstock

"For me, a Sazerac; I just think the flavors work well with brunch foods and also the coffee I'm drinking at brunch." —Gregory Weinstock, general manager of Salvatore’s (Theatre District)

Image credit: Provided

Adam Garcia

Adam Garcia

"Tequila Sunrise mimosa." —Adam Garcia, general manager at Cinquecento

Image credit: Provided

Emily Ackerman

Emily Ackerman

"Not commonly thought of, but an espresso martini." Emily Ackerman, general manager of Aquitaine (Boston)

Image credit: Provided

Gregory Torrech

Gregory Torrech

"You can't go wrong with the classic bloody mary." —Gregory Torrech, executive chef of The Beehive

Image credit: Provided

Daniel Myers

Daniel Myers

"The Bloody Caesar." —Daniel Myers, co-owner of Loyal Nine

Image credit: Provided

Erica Keefe

Erica Keefe (square)

"You can never go wrong with a 'Big Girl' or tropical fruit mimosa." —Erica Keefe, executive chef Five Horses Tavern (South End)

Image credit: Provided

Angela Lamb

Angela Lamb (square)

"Executive mimosas. They go down easy and are ridiculously refreshing." —Angela Lamb, general manager at Coda

Image credit: Provided

For Breakfast Week, local bartenders and chefs also provided input on their favorite boozy brunches around town:

Editor markup for Boston's Best Boozy Brunches, According to Restaurant Industry Folks. This is only visible in the story editor.


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