Grand Café offers “daytime friendly” drinks that are lower in alcohol
A San Francisco dining destination known for French-accented craft cocktails after dark has launched a slate of lighter, “daytime friendly” libations for Saturday and Sunday brunch, including an updated Bloody Mary.
The five new brunch drinks at the Grand Café Brasserie & Bar, a Kimpton restaurant, are lower in alcohol than the spirits-forward offerings on the main cocktail menu, making them better suited for morning sipping, according to bar manager Kristin Almy. In addition, they are trendier in style than familiar brunch standbys like the Bloody Mary and the Mimosa, but not too far out.
“We wanted drinks that are easily accessible to someone who is used to those traditional brunch cocktails, but also ones that they couldn’t have anywhere else,” said Almy.
In her new brunch drinks, Almy found ways to reduce high-proof spirits and substitute lighter products like tonic water, liqueurs and sparkling wine to maintain flavor. A prime example is the First Word, a play on the drink known as the Last Word, made with gin, Green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime. In Almy’s creation, a fragrant type of tonic water stands in for the gin.
“We get a lot of the same botanical aspects from the tonic water as we would the gin,” said Almy. “We call it the First Word instead of the Last Word because you are going to enjoy it in the morning.”
In the drink calledin Bed, sparkling rosé wine lends backbone and “a nice dry aspect” to Lillet Rosé, framboise, and lemon, Almy said. Bubbly is also a key ingredient in her gentler riff on the traditional French 75. The Honeyed 75 brings together sparkling wine, Cognac, lemon and housemade honey syrup.
Almy called the Farm & Stick, her takeoff on the Bloody Mary, “our very French nod to an American staple.” The base of that drink is tomato water, the fragrant juice of fresh, ripe, local heirloom tomatoes, prepared in the Grand Café kitchen. Almy spikes the thin but flavorful pink liquid with vodka, French dry vermouth and house-made habanero tincture. She said the drink will run only as long as local tomatoes are available, which she hopes will be until November.
“To me, a Bloody Mary is so thick it is almost a meal,” said Almy. “But this is a nice, lighter version that you can enjoy with brunch without having your palate overwhelmed. And it tastes like delicious heirloom tomatoes.”
The drinks were crafted to complement executiveAlicia Jenish’s creative brunch fare, which includes dishes like Pain de Mie French Toast with pineapple rum sauce, banana and cardamom Chantilly, House-Cured Corn Beef Benedict with braised red cabbage and poached eggs, and Black Kale Salad with apple, poached leeks, candied walnuts, blue cheese, beets and mustard vinaigrette.
A particularly good paring with the egg dishes is the Bright Eye, a medley of reposado tequila, grapefruit juice, peach syrup, cardamom bitters and soda.
“We call it Bright Eye because it is something that you wake up to,” Almy said.