Unfortunately, like brunch, the meal they typically accompany, Mimosas can fall victim to their own popularity. They are too frequently made sloppily in massive quantities, overpowered by either saccharine juice or cheap wine.
“Mimosas have only two ingredients, so it is crucial to have a balance of sparkling wine and fresh-squeezed juice,” Taylor Murray, the manager and wine buyer of 12@Madison restaurant in Denver, says.
To help you perfect your process, we asked five bar professionals across the country for their tips. Here are seven dos and don’ts for making excellent Mimosas.
What To Do
1. Squeeze Fresh Juice.
“Always start with high-quality, natural juice,” Alex Hammond, head bartender at Tradd’s in Charleston, S.C., says. “Fresh squeezed is the best.”
This might sound like an awful lot of effort for a drink you’re likely making in the morning, but it’s worth it. Orange juice and sparkling wine are your only two ingredients here, and both can come loaded with extra sugar. By juicing oranges yourself, you have more control over your cocktail’s sweet-tart balance.
If you have a juicer, you’re all set. Those of us without expensively outfitted kitchens can use this trick: Cut your fruit in half horizontally. Hold one half, cut side up, in your non-dominant hand over a bowl. With your other hand, insert the tip of closed kitchen tongs into the fruit, and rotate, spilling juice into the bowl below.
“When I’m shopping for my own oranges, I always go for the heaviest fruit,” Murray says. They’re “sure to be juicy and full of flavor.”
2. Lose the Pulp.
Some people love the textural effect of pulp in juice. In a Mimosa, though, bartenders believe it detracts from the bubbles in your wine.
“When you’re at the grocery store, you can buy your OJ with any level pulp you want: low, medium, high, and, if you’re some sort of monster, extra pulp,” Keith Meicher, head bartender at Sepia in Chicago, says. “But when you’re juicing fresh orange juice for your cocktail, you’ve gotta make sure to strain out every bit of pulp you find.”
3. Chill Your Glassware.
Meicher swears by this “tiny detail” to elevate Mimosas. Before you start juicing oranges, put your glassware in the freezer. By the time your juice is ready, the glasses will be chilled. Champagne flutes are traditional for Mimosas, but coupes or traditional wine glasses work as well.
4. Build in the Glass.
To preserve the effervescence of your Mimosa, build the drink directly into the glass. Start with the sparkling wine, and then pour in the OJ. “You’ll not only be able to gauge the alcohol ratio preference this way, but it will help reduce the foaming effect,” Matt Carson, beverage director/sommelier at Lora in Stillwater, Minn., says.
If you start with orange juice and top with sparkling wine, on the other hand, your cocktail will likely bubble over with rapidly deflating foam.
5. Mind Your Ratio.
“You always want to do a one-to-one ratio,” Amanda Juner, general manager of TALK in Philadelphia, says. This way, you taste crisp, bubbly wine and sweet citrus in equal measure.
A juice-heavy Mimosa tastes more like fruit punch than a cocktail. Add too much sparkling wine, and that’s all you’ll taste.
What to Avoid
1. Save Your Best Sparkling Wine.
If you want to use your best Champagne in a homemade Mimosa, hey, it’s your world. But experts agree you can use more gently priced bubbles without compromising your drink.
“The wine doesn’t need to be expensive to be delicious,” Murray says. “I’d recommend using a nice dry Cava or a Crémant de Limoux. Both styles are made similar to a Champagne, but without the bank-breaking price tag.”
Carson agrees, adding, “Think of this drink as a cocktail, not a wine needing to be amazing on its own.”
All the bartenders we spoke to favor drier bubbles, including Cava, $10 to $20 bottles of Prosecco, and Crémant de Loire or de Bourgogne. Carson also recommends seeking out brut nature or zero dosage wines, which have no additional sugar. (This designation is more frequently applied to Champagne, but affordable low- and no-dosage sparkling wines are made worldwide.)
On the flip side, don’t buy the cheapest sparkling wine on the rack and attempt to hide its flaws in your drink. “Avoid many of the less-expensive Prosecco options,” Murray says. “While they work in a pinch, they can often lack character or be too sweet with the addition of juice.”
2. Now Is Not the Time to Batch.
Mimosas are popular for brunch and day-drinking events, so mixing up a big batch for 20 of your closest friends may be tempting. Unfortunately, a high-volume sparkling wine cocktail is a recipe for disappointment. The juice inevitably separates from the wine. “This dilutes the bubbles and the whole drink tastes flat,” Hammond says.