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Sarah Ward

What Is Brunch? 14 Fresh Foods And Inspired Cocktails

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If you haven’t been on social media, or you’ve avoided the midday world, you may be wondering, “What is brunch?” Or, you may already know what it is and are curious to learn more about this breakfast-lunch phenomenon that’s swept across the globe. It's even inspired some great liquor bottle display ideas, as well as custom drinks.

On a base level, brunch is the perfect blend of breakfast and lunch, a meal for breakfast foods and almost-midday cocktails. If some of the foods border on dessert, that's okay too. In this blog post we dive deep to learn what is brunch, how it started, and why so many people love it. With a sweet take on drink special ideas and a reason to get out of bed on the weekend, attending or hosting brunch has taken the world by storm.


The History of Brunch

Before we learn about “What is brunch?” and “What time is brunch served?” We should look at the origins of brunch. The origin of brunch is a little murky. It’s hard to nail down who realized that champagne and French toast were a match made in heaven. 

There are a few brunch origin stories to choose from. One common theory is that brunch came from the English tradition of a large meal before a hunt. Another idea is that brunch sprung up from the Catholic practice of fasting before mass and enjoying a large meal after the service.

Yet another theory is that brunch came to be from the large number of cafés that sell brunch-type foods and drinks. This theory is tied specifically to shops and establishments in New York, including The Nomad. When it comes to "What is brunch?" The answer varies, that's for sure.

An article in Smithsonian Magazine covers the start and journey of brunch quite well. Since there’s no way of knowing exactly how brunch started, you can pick your favorite origin tale. If you want to dive into it, bring these facts to your next brunch and pick them apart with friends over bottomless mimosas.

What Is Brunch Food?

Brunch food is a delicious combination of the best breakfast and lunch dishes. If you’re serving up brunch at home, you can design your menu types however you please. If you’re a bar, restaurant, or café owner, there are some dishes you’ll want to include. Typically, a brunch menu is served following the a la carte meaning.

However, the option of variety is still there for you. Whatever your brunch situation is, there are some classic foods that suit any brunch occasion. These top seven dishes will be all the rave at any brunch. 

7. Mini Frittatas

Mini frittatas are the perfect brunch treat for breakfast food that turns into a midday snack. One full-sized frittata is quite a filling meal. 

You can snack on several mini versions (like something from an appetizer list) as part of a bottomless brunch. You can also do an egg-themed brunch with mini frittatas as one of several egg dishes.

6. French Toast

When it comes to French toast, need we say more? Well, okay–we will. This is a light, airy, yet decadent breakfast food.

You can never go wrong with French toast, but this sweet treat really hits the spot in those mid-morning hours. If you like wine with your brunch, some French wine names are well-suited for French toast. 

5. Coffee Cake

While brunch is often associated with champagne, mimosas, and other popular cocktail drinks, coffee is an ever-present part of this post-breakfast meal. You can never have enough coffee and its baked companion, coffee cake, is a regular brunch treat. If you want to experiment with coffee cake for your at-home brunch, this option from Simply Recipes is a good place to start.

4. Pancakes (Blueberry, Chocolate Chip, Banana, and More)

No matter the time of day, you can’t go wrong with pancakes. You can dress up brunch pancakes by mixing in blueberries, chocolate chips, bananas, or anything else you want. If you’re a café owner who can offer a DIY brunch setup, you can give patrons lots of options of mix-ins for their pancakes.

3. Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict, or as this dish is affectionately called, eggs Benny, is a classic brunch dish. Poached eggs, an English muffin, hollandaise sauce, and anything else you might add to this delicious mix make for a hearty brunch meal.

Some restaurants add hot sauce. Some may add chives. Whatever you choose, it’s hard to go wrong with eggs Benedict.

2. Banana Bread

Banana bread has been a sweet treat for ages now. It became even more of a staple when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and people turned to experimenting with banana bread.

Now, everyone is more aware than ever of just how delicious banana bread is. This decadent bread complements pretty much any brunch setting. 

1. Scones

Scones come in at number one because they’re just such a delicious treat. Scones are often best served as a sort of dessert for a brunch meal.

That said, they work equally well as a beginning course, or the whole meal. The variety of scones you can make means that this baked delight works for any brunch, anytime, anywhere.

What Are Brunch Cocktails?

All those brunch foods are, of course, vital to the success of a brunch meal. That said, there’s another part of brunch that really brings people out in crowds on Sunday mornings.

That is the variety of brunch cocktails - from the good old classics to vegan drinks and gluten-free cocktails. Any excuse to have a drink before noon on the weekend is a good one, as long as you’re being safe with an Uber or a designated friend driving. Mixologists have created so many great cocktails suitable for brunch, but here are the top seven for us! 

7. Frozen Mudslide

If you’re looking for a reason to have a milkshake at brunch, the frozen mudslide will be your favorite cocktail on this list. This chilly concoction combines:

  • Kahlua
  • Baileys
  • Vodka
  • Ice cream 

You can add unconventional cocktail ingredients like chocolate syrup and whipped cream, and for the ice cream, vanilla, chocolate, or coffee are all great choices.

6. Kir Royale

To give your brunch a French twist, the Kir Royale is a great option. This champagne cocktail combines champagne or sparkling wine with Crème de Cassis, Crème de Framboise or Chambord.

Most recipes also include raspberries as a garnish and a flavor boost. You’ll feel transported to a café in France no matter where you enjoy your brunch with a Kir Royale.

5. Sangria

There are some brunch cocktails that work for any time of year. Then there are the best summer cocktails. Sangria is one of those seasonal treats. Sangria brings together:

Sangria is best served up with an outdoor summer brunch with lots of fruits and pastries. 

4. Strawberry Margarita

A margarita recipe might seem like more of an afternoon treat than a brunch selection. Yes, margaritas often go with tacos for dinner on Tuesday.

When you add strawberries into the mix, however, you create a great brunch option. The sweet, tangy flavor of a strawberry margarita can be the perfect companion to pancakes, egg dishes, and more brunch favorites. 


3. Rosé Lemonade

When you think of brunch, rosé is often not far behind. That said, on its own, we can’t fully claim rosé as a cocktail, and that’s where rosé lemonade comes in.

The flavors of rosé and lemonade are–to put it plainly–absolutely perfect together. You can mix it up with pink lemonade, or even add in garnishes to change up the flavor even more. Heck, you can even use tonic water if you'd like. Some gin brands might even fit the mix.

2. Bloody Mary

Of course, no brunch cocktail list would be complete without Bloody Marys, the classic morning drink. The Bloody Mary has been making a statement in the morning drinking scene since before brunch was a thing.

Naturally, it’s become a staple of brunch. Yes, it has vodka, but it’s often utilized as a hangover cure. If you partied the night before brunch, the Bloody Mary may be your best choice.

1. Mimosa

The mimosa is, hands down, the best of brunch cocktails. When people ask, "What is brunch?" They're often asking "Where can we get mimosas?"

This simple mix of champagne and orange juice can be dressed up with a variety of fruit flavors and garnishes. You can’t go wrong with a mimosa made with sparkling rosé either. The mimosa is a classic that never goes out of style.

What Time Is Brunch Served?

Brunch hours typically run from 11am to around 2pm. Of course, this will vary from person to person, from restaurant to restaurant, and from menu to menu.

That said, these mid-morning to early afternoon hours are fairly standard. Brunch is also usually reserved for the weekends, though there are certainly no rules against enjoying a good brunch during the week. 

What Is Bottomless Brunch?

The most important question for brunch lovers (and for businesses watching their overhead expenses) is, “What is bottomless brunch?” Typically when people hear the term bottomless brunch, they think of unlimited alcoholic beverages, but it goes beyond that.

Generally, bottomless brunch means you pay one price for one meal and unlimited drinks. In a way, it’s similar to a continental breakfast or a buffet. Yes, the alcohol is unlimited, but the meal is wrapped up in that sweet price.

Frequently Asked Questions About What Is Brunch

If you're going to get brunch this weekend, or you own a restaurant that offers brunch, there are a few things you should know. A few common questions include:

Where Is Brunch Near Me?

If you're searching for "brunch near me" you'll be looking for a place nearby that offers this well-timed meal. A good bet on places in your area for brunch are small cafés and restaurants that cater to a wide variety of interests. There are sure to be a few favorite local spots.

What Is the Difference Between Brunch and Breakfast? 

What is brunch? What is breakfast? At this point, the two are combined so often it can be easy to forget there is a difference, but there is! Breakfast is strictly for breakfast foods sans alcoholic drinks, while brunch brings in heartier meals and favorite cocktails.

What Is Served at a Brunch?

A brunch menu can include anything from egg dishes to mini sandwiches. Exactly what is served at a brunch will depend on the restaurant. If it's a home brunch, the varieties can be anything you can dream up.

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What Is Brunch? Serve Up Some Yums

So, what is brunch? It's much more than just a restaurant lingo term. The specifics of brunch will change depending on what you like for brunch dishes, where you're eating, and what you like to drink. Overall, however, the main brunch definition remains the same: a weekend (or weekday) treat to fulfill the best of breakfast and lunch.

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