Mimosas: Putting the vitamin C in Champagne for nearly a century

10 A.M., JAN. 1. It’s the New Year now. The party is over, and most of the guests have gone home (though a few are asleep on your couch), and you are still wearing last night’s sequins and/or dress pants. And all over your kitchen are empty bottles of sparkling wine.

Oh, wait — not quite empty. Some of them have at least a flute’s worth sitting in the bottom, a cork shoved halfway into the neck preserving what’s left of the bubbles. And then you open the fridge and discover that you overestimated how many friends would show up, and thus still have several bottles of bubbly left over, chilling behind the cheese. And, though it might already be tomorrow, you’re still on vacation and want to party on.

Plus: Orange juice is nutritious, pairs well with eggs and gives you the impression that you aren’t really drinking. It is the perfect time, therefore, for a mimosa.

A mimosa is an easy drink to prepare: Just add one part orange juice to one part sparkling wine, and pour to combine.

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Traditionally served in a Champagne flute or, sometimes, a coupe, a mimosa feels somehow very “Gatsby”: It’s an otherwise relatively nutritious traditional breakfast drink rendered hedonistic by the addition of last night’s leftover alcohol. You typically don’t add Irish cream to your breakfast cereal, or whiskey to your coffee (before noon, anyway), but it’s OK to add celebratory bubbles to your vitamin C. Champagne: part of a complete breakfast.

Also, before we go further, I might point out that there is no need to be achingly precise about the colloquial use of the term “Champagne” when you’re pouring it into a glass of orange juice like a barbarian. Yes; you could use sparkling wine from the French region of Champagne prepared according to methode Champagnoise, but why would you? You’re essentially making a wine cooler, so just use an inexpensive cava, or prosecco, or your local sparkling rose (rose, I think, makes the best mimosa).

Mimosas typically are associated with brunch, and weddings, and Mother’s Day, paired for a drink named after a flower. The mimosa bloom (Mimosa pudica) looks like an exploding firework, as evocative a moniker as possible for a drink that erupts into a froth of bright-yellow bubbles when first combined.

The libation, in its 1:1 proportions, is said to have been invented by bartender (and probable spy) Frank Meier at the Ritz hotel in Paris in 1925, so it really is a product of the Jazz Age.

However, in 1921, a bartender named Malachy McGarry at Buck’s Gentleman’s Club in London (the real-life inspiration of P.G. Wodehouse’s Drone’s Club, where Bertie Wooster drank) invented something called the “Buck’s Fizz,” another orange-and-Champagne drink, differing from a mimosa only in that it contains twice as much bubbly as orange juice; it’s often consumed in the U.K. as a Christmas morning drink.

The fact we mostly call the combo a “mimosa” over here, regardless of proportions, is either a miscarriage of branding or because Buck’s Fizz sounds like something you clean up with bleach, and “mimosa” sounds like something you do at Zumba, and that therefore might appeal more to your mother.

Mimosas also have become something of an activity in and of themselves due to the relatively recent phenomenon of brunch menus with “bottomless mimosas” on offer. The concept emerged out of the murk of so-bad-they’re-good ideas roughly 10 years ago, but sounds like something the Fitzgeralds would have enjoyed at the Commodore after a night drinking bathtub gin out of a shoe.

I cannot think of another situation, outside of an open bar at a wedding, when you are offered the theoretical possibility of unlimited alcohol consumption for a set price. Everyone has that friend who views the concept of an all-you-can-eat buffet as a challenge — the problem can only be exacerbated with booze.

Restaurants have concocted a number of fixes for this; some places require a minimum per-person food order (Yes; I’ll just have a side of bacon, please), while some impose a time limit on consumption (How many of these can I suck down in two hours, guys?). Because, like most all-you-can-eat concepts, it really only becomes cost-effective if you overindulge.

If this sounds like a good way to spend a rainy Seattle morning (and it absolutely is), there is an ever-increasing number of establishments happy to indulge you. You can, for example, hop over to the Yellow Dot Cafe in Fremont, Nue in Capitol Hill, Miller’s Guild downtown, or Super Six in Columbia City.

The simple mimosa has, in the hands of some creative chefs and mixologists, become an art form. Frequent variations include the megmosa (grapefruit juice), blood orange mimosas (slightly more tart), the Poinsettia (with cranberry juice), the soleil (pineapple juice) and the sometimes-sickly-sweet Bellini (with peach puree). CJ’s Eatery in Belltown offers a variety, including something called the Tiger Lily (with a splash of strawberry lemonade), which sounds decadent enough for even Zelda F. herself.

Credit: Mimosas: Putting the vitamin C in Champagne for nearly a century