Everyone is upping their brunch game in L.A., meaning good-bye, boring ol’ mimosas, and hello, pichuberry cooler. And not only do the following brunches offer crafty day-friendly cocktails, but they’re still so new that the brunch hordes haven’t found them yet.
Belcampo Meat Co.
You’re in Santa Monica and planned to eat at Huckleberry but, as always, the line is out the back door. Why not go up the street to Belcampo Meat Co.’s restaurant which just debuted a new brunch? Josh Goldman of the Soigne Group has already created an innovative cocktail program BMC; it’s here where you’ll find sangrita lollipops to enjoy with your tequila, a Gold Rush cocktail featuring actual gold flakes, and a gin and tonic made with “chronic water” aka hoppy water. He even has delicious housemade sodas.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Goldman is able to think way outside the box with his brunch program—Bloody Marys using clarified tomato juice, a Ramos Gin Fizz with Fruity Pebbles cereal milk (because “Fruity Pebbles makes the best cereal milk”), and a bottled brose, which is like an oat-y, scotch-y milk punch. His menu features a mix of his original cocktails with brunch classics like the Corpse Reviver #2 and even Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Kentucky Breakfast cocktail made with housemade apricot preserves. As is the philosophy of the restaurant, everything is only made with the freshest produce and housemade ingredients, something that might appeal to fidgety Huckleberry line standers.
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Los Balcones in Hollywood launched a brunch menu featuring mid-morning favorites with a Peruvian twist, like the pannetone French toast. For the accompanying cocktail menu, instead of sticking to one kind of mimosa for the bottomless brunch special ($15 with entree for two hours), bar manager Josh Suchan is offering four different juices —grapefruit, pineapple, watermelon, orange—which imbibers can cycle through to their liver’s discontent. Those who want more drinking options can order off the regular cocktail menu as well. Drinks like the Paloma Play and Pichuberry Cooler are refreshing and daytime-friendly.
Catch & Release
Chef Jason Neroni’s Marina Del Rey restaurant soft opened its brunch a couple of weeks ago showcasing fried oyster omelettes, Johnny cakes, and French toast fluffernutters. To complement the New England fare, barmen Nick Meyer and Dave Kupchinsky created a Bloody Mary-heavy menu, featuring four variations including a Kale Mary for health-conscious juice fiends and a Bloody Bull with housemade beef stock for those who crave a hearty brunch cocktail. “All Bloodys can be made with vodka as the spirit, however, we do try and steer people toward different spirits depending on the [housemade Bloody] blend,” says Meyer. “We do tequila, whiskey, mezcal, gin, and moving forward I have a feeling almost every spirit will eventually be represented. But with that said, we can make someone just a regular vodka Bloody Mary if that’s what they’d like.” Bonus is that every Mary comes with a “beer back” of refreshing light beer to help wash down all those spices. But for those who prefer sweet daydrinking options, there’s also a bellini and strawberry mimosa made with farmers-market fresh juices on offer.
Bartender Gabriella Mlynarczyk (Freddy Smalls, Birch) always finds ways to make your drink experience fun and damn Instagrammable, too. Her new brunch cocktail menu at Cadet in Santa Monica is no exception. You’ll find brunch classics like the Michelada but made with IPA, hot chili, and togarashi and the most savory Bloody Caesar with dry sherry, clam juice, and nori. But props to Gaby for also including a stirred cocktail, something you don’t see too often on daytime menus. Her Cafe Amer is a light coffee cocktail which looks serious but won’t put you out of commission for the rest of the afternoon. Another menu surprise is the Grasshopper cocktail, which I think is just perfect for a sunny and warm summer morning. Drinking that refreshing green cocktail will have you skipping merrily down toward the beach after. UPDATE: Mlynarczyk resigned this afternoon. Apparently the future plans for Cadet will no longer focus on cocktails.