Bloody Marys and mimosas are, clearly, classic brunch drinks. But if you're a frequent bruncher, the usual suspects may be becoming a bit of a snooze. I'm a brunch fan myself, which is why my ears pricked up when I heard the Second Floor is offering a prickly pear margarita along with a French tea with Charbay Meyer Lemon Vodka, Chambord and apricot mint tea as alcohol delivery systems that won't raise eyebrows if ordered before noon.
I caught up with Jason Henry, the general manager the Second Floor who runs the beverage program to find out more about these creations.
What got you thinking about crafting and serving new brunch drinks? We were pairing wine for some of our Mother's Day courses and decided that some of the entrees were difficult to pair with wine. So we decided to introduce some of our existing seasonal cocktails as pairings for our brunch dishes, and it worked.
Where did you get the idea for the prickly pear margarita? What goes into it? What does it pair well with foodwise? Prickly pear is a definitive "Texas" ingredient that is sourced from South Texas cacti, and with our large international customer base with the guests of the Westin Galleria Dallas, we wanted to showcase something that most guests don't see across the states.
We started with a prickly pear sorbet, and it quickly turned in to a margarita. The ingredients are simple and fresh: prickly pear puree, simple syrup, fresh squeezed lime and lemon juice, Patron Citronge Orange Liquor and Don Julio Silver Tequila.
I love our "steak and eggs" paired with this cocktail: Braised short rib, house pickled jalapenos, roasted peppers, skillet potatoes and over easy eggs. Spicy Latin dishes pair well with this cocktail.
And what about the French tea? Where did you get the idea for that? I had seen everyone in town doing some type of prebottled "Arnold Palmer" or similar sweet tea cocktail and decided we needed something that would be great for summertime but with high quality, fresh ingredients. Our Second Floor iced tea selection that we have custom blended for us was a perfect introduction for this drink, which gives a great flavor pairing with the raspberries and Meyer lemon vodka. This is a perfect back porch drink on a hot summer day.
Are there others in this brunch drink posse? We also have the Midori mimosa, and of course the straight-up traditional mimosa and Bloody Marys. Other pretty standard cocktails that we serve at brunch include the St. Pomtini, orange blossom and basil lemon drop.
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Do you see this as a local trend? I think that we're seeing more fresh, locally sourced ingredients in cocktails around town. Local herbs, fresh made sangrias and local fruit are definitely more prevalent than they were a couple of years ago. I think that the bottomless mimosas craze has hit its peak and folks are having to come up with more imagination with specialized palates of our customers [in mind].
What have customers' reactions to them been thus far? Great. Guests are very inquisitive and want to know recipes, where we source our products, and when is happy hour.
How do you go about concocting a new libation? It usually starts with a food dish or dessert that we do in-house at the Second Floor or I come across a new liquor or fresh fruit or herb that the chef is utilizing. It helps to have a seasonal menu and an experimental chef in the house so you can source new products.