Brunch has quickly become one of Worcester’s favorite new (feeding) pastimes.

We are no longer limited to a few restaurants that have a line forming out the door by 9 AM, or reservations that book up a week in advance, months for holidays. Our growing dining options mean we hang out a little longer and drink a lot more.

From bottomless buckets to build it yourself bars, you don’t have to keep it quick and easy. With all the options for what and where you drink, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to try something new. There are simple ways to enhance the classics that even the busiest bartenders will enjoy concocting for you.

Across the Bar: How to Brunch the Right Way in Worcester 1

More Than Mimosas

Mimosas are a staple of brunch. Mix with an array of fruit juices garnishes and you can’t lose. Berry and a select few citrus flavors are your best bet. Pomegranate juice with a lemon twist, for example, is a palette pleaser.

While you can’t go wrong with a classic, putting your own twist on something as simple as a mimosa offers a pleasant surprise. I love mixing different flavors to create a new champagne cocktail for those “make me something sweet” brunch customers. My go-to combination is to add a shot of Deep Eddy’s Peach vodka with just a splash of orange juice, and a few raspberries. It’s sweet but refreshing. You can easily enjoy a few of these with your meal.

Keeping with theme of champagne cocktails, consider a Poinsettia. That’s right, they aren’t just fallback Christmas décor. A classic Poinsettia is a mix of champagne, Cointreau (or any other orange liqueur on hand), and cranberry juice, served in a champagne flute. Take the cranberry taste to the extreme with a splash of Deep Eddy’s Cranberry vodka.

All Hail the Bloody Mary

Hangover helper and another brunch basic, a Bloody Mary can change lives. Not really, but it might feel that way for those desperately seeking the hair of the dog. Many bartenders have their own secret recipe for the best Bloody. Dash of this and a sprinkle of that. A former bar manager gave me his recipe before my first brunch shift, and, with very few modifications, I have kept it the same over the years. If it isn’t broken, as they say.

When you order your Bloody Mary there are two key questions to consider regarding citrus and spice. Do you want an elevated citrus taste? If so, ask for it to be shaken with extra lemon squeezed right in, or be bold and have it made with a citrus vodka, such as Absolut or Kettle One.

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If you’re looking for an extra kick of heat, there are a few ways to enhance your cocktail. Tabasco sauce, horseradish, and crushed black pepper are among the best solutions. You should also consider wasabi and jalapenos. Of course, you can flip the script on this completely and make it a Bloody Maria by swapping out the vodka for tequila. Might I recommend the Ghost—as in ghost pepper—tequila for those daring few. For the loyal locals, Ghost Tequila was created by a Boston-based bartender. Cheers to the hometown hero.

If you find yourself at a Build Your Own bar this weekend, don’t skimp. Try a little of everything. Bacon. Shrimp. Cheese. Chicken and waffles on a skewer (it’s a thing!). You’re paying for the toppings either way, so why waste your money if you’re only adding a pickle? Go big or make it at home.

White Russian

If you have yet to embrace this creamy brunch favorite, let me show you the way. This was one drink I just couldn’t enjoy as is. Then I stumbled upon the Vanilla White Russian, specifically made with Stoli Vanil. That was a game changer. Not sweet enough for you? There are more ways to make this dessert-like brunch drink even better. Three Olives Cake vodka, for one, turns it into what I simply refer to as a Russian Birthday. It’s a diet-buster, without question, and exceptionally filling. But if you are fine with only having one, and one might be all you need, have at it.

Give yourself a shot of caffeine and ask your server for vodka for Van Gogh Double Espresso vodka, or a similar variety. Van Gogh’s vodka has double the caffeine of other vodkas of its kind, and balances bold and smooth. In combination with Kahlua — original or any of its seasonal varieties — this combination will wake you up in time for the game, and take that morning edge off right away.

Greyhounds

A very underappreciated drink in general, but particularly on the brunch-front, is the Greyhound. Commonly made with vodka, gin is a popular alternative for this cocktail. Stirred with grapefruit juice and served in either a Collins or Old Fashioned glass. Depending on your bartender, it will be mixed with simply syrup, and garnished with a lemon or lime. It is so simple, yet so refreshing. At one point or another growing up, most of us remember a relative scooping out a half a grapefruit for breakfast as part of their diet. Consider the Greyhound the much more fun way to bring this diet back to life.

Some things are better left as is, but in today’s world of flavored everything, why not step out of the box a little? When you are camping out for a few hours at brunch this weekend, don’t be boring. Experiment with new flavors. Load up on the toppings. It doesn’t matter if you are doing it for the flavors, or just doing it for the gram.

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