There is something magical about Mimosas. Even the thought of sipping on one makes one daydream of the warmth of the cosy winter sun, the aroma of freshly baked croissants so delicate and flaky they break apart by the slightest touch, the crisp air bubbling with overlapping conversations and laughter. Brunch enthusiasts would argue that no brunch whatsoever is ever complete without washing the meal down with a glass of Mimosa. Perhaps two.
Restaurants recognise this too, evident in the widespread adoption of the immensely popular "bottomless brunch" in recent times. For the unversed, bottomless brunches bundle food and limitless alcohol at a fixed cost. It’s a comparatively newer concept that has witnessed a consistent rise since 2011, and reached its pinnacle in 2021. Restaurants claim that after the pandemic, bottomless brunches are a guaranteed way of attracting customers.
Brunches, although, have been around for about a century now, and became popular in the 1930s across the United States.
As for Mimosas, it's unsurprising why this beloved beverage is an essential companion for brunch. Orange juice is acidic, which helps cleanse the palate after a meal. Moreover, its preparation is straightforward: a blend of champagne with chilled orange juice or a preferred citrus beverage.
Mimosas were earlier known as “champagne-orange" in London, and subsequently earned royal favour when introduced to the Queen by Earl Mountbatten of Burma, post a sojourn in southern France. The Sydney Morning Herald in 1961 noted, "The royal family has initiated a new trend in drinks among London's chic Mayfair set," adding, "The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the Queen Mother have all embraced a Champagne cocktail they dub Mimosa." True to its name, the "champagne-orange" concoction consisted solely of chilled champagne over orange juice. Interestingly, this cocktail, though named after the day-blooming flower, was typically savoured as an evening indulgence rather than a daytime refreshment.
In the late 1960s, Europeans introduced the Mimosa to the United States, a time when brunch had already gained nationwide popularity, featuring a distinct cocktail menu. Banana daiquiris, crafted with rum, bananas, lime juice, and maraschino cherries, alongside double martinis, held considerable favour. Notably, Robert Moss of My Recipes highlighted Charley O's, an Irish pub in Rockefeller Center, for presenting its version of a "champagne orange," blending champagne, orange juice, and Cointreau.
Mimosas found substantial popularity in upscale New York nightclubs and among Hollywood's elite. Reports from the London Express documented Alfred Hitchcock indulging in Mimosas — Champagne and orange juice — while enjoying an eight-inch cigar. Vanessa Redgrave, during her time in the Big Apple, was noted for sipping on a "Champagne Mimosa," her preferred blend of bubbly and orange juice. Additionally, French actress Denise Darcel affirmed to the Detroit Free Press, stating, "In France, we drink Mimosa."
In the 1970s, Mimosas solidified their status as a quintessential brunch cocktail, standing tall alongside the Bloody Mary. They became a ubiquitous presence "on brunch menus in restaurants nationwide, from the Brewery in Chicago and the Old World Restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles to the Brighton Coach Restaurant in Dallas," as noted by Moss.
Eventually, recipes for Mimosas started gracing pages of newspapers and magazines.
Pour the orange juice into a champagne flute.
Add chilled sparkling wine, to top.
Garnish with an orange slice.