Break Out the Momosas!

06 Apr 2021

This celebratory cocktail adds the fanfare to every daytime occasion, especially on Mother’s Day

By Elizabeth Sugg  »  Photos by Melissa Souto

In just two ingredients, the genius of Mimosas is their sheer simplicity. The equal blending of orange juice and your choice of Champagne, prosecco or sparkling wine is the winning combo to break out the smiles at your springtime gathering. And with the vaccine rollout, gathering this April and May with parents, grandparents and good friends we have been Facetiming with to protect, is increasingly likely, so break out the bubbly! Through research what you call this simple drink — Mimosas or the gentleman’s version of one, the Buck’s Fizz — is all in the amount of sparkling wine you pour.

When did mimosas become part of a festive brunch ritual? I remember having my first underage sip of one at a The Magic Pan, the once-upon-a-time chain of crepe restaurants, in Dallas in the 1970s. We were living in Wichita Falls, Texas, where my dad was in the boot-making business, and a trip to the Big D meant a special meal somewhere. That sip or two of the fizzy orange juice so long ago, feeling so adult and deliciously naughty at age 12 or 13, has my memory of the creperie permanently ensconced in a rose-colored glow. Mimosas are a daytime drink built on a breakfast staple — orange juice. The amount of sparkling you pour is where the drink’s lore and its beginnings get interesting.

As (apparently) Adam came before Eve, the Buck’s Fizz, a drink invented in 1921 at the Buck’s Club in London, came before the Mimosa. The Buck’s Fizz is two-parts Champagne to one-part orange juice, and it was created in large part with orange juice to give gentleman a presentable excuse to begin drinking before lunch, and the sparkling wine added a delightful fizziness. Across the English Channel four years later at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, a bartender named Frank Meier is credited with paring back the Champagne to an equal pour with orange juice, and it became known as a glass of Champagne-Orange. The story continues that the mimosa flower, a vivid yellow-orange shrub imported from Australia, was very popular among French gardeners in the first half of the 20th century, and that eventually as the Champagne-Orange grew in popularity, over time it became renamed to something as flowery and trending as the Mimosa definitely was proving to be.

The drink jettisoned in popularity when it was reported in 1961 that Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mother were seen at an event in the Mayfair area of London enjoying “a Champagne cocktail they call mimosa”, and the world, particularly in the U.S., took notice. In 1966 at the height of his fame Sir Alfred Hitchcock was interviewed sipping one, and it soon became a glamour drink of movie stars. Once it became a menu custom at some of the finest restaurants in Manhattan, the New York Times in the 1970s called the Mimosa a “Sunday brunch classic”, and the rest is history.

There are many variations of the Mimosa, but why mess with success when fanfare and festivity can be had with a fizzy mix of Champagne and O.J.? The ratio of each can be left to your MOMosa!

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