Mimosa Pointers from Junior Merino

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Junior Merino

Our November/December issue features a profile of a brunch cocktail success story from VERGE restaurant at the Toll House Hotel in Los Gatos, California, where housemade shrubs (an acidulated syrup made with fruit juice or vinegar with sugar and other ingredients) drive next-level Mimosas, prepared, along with Bloody Marys, by staff using tableside carts. The result is a 30% increase in brunch drink sales.

That story got me thinking about pointers that might help hoteliers expand their mimosa horizons, so I called Junior Merino, a mixologist known to many as “the Liquid Chef.” From his Liquid Lab in New York City, Merino does research, education, and cocktail development with more than 3,000 individual spirit labels, spices, oils, extracts, aromas, and herbs from around the world. He offered a few tips off the top of his head.

Tweak the Flavor Profile for Your Concept. “I have one where I add just a half ounce of tequila, to spike it up a little bit,” Merino notes. “That was for a Mexican restaurant, where we could tie the mimosa to the Mexican flavors.”

Know Your Clientele. Before adding expensive dry ice or employing other ingredients, be sure of how much your guests are willing to spend—and whether they even want out-of-the-box flavors and techniques. “People who travel for fun or for business like to try new things,” he observes.

Experiment. Trial and error can help you find winners and eliminate duds. “One time I tried a mimosa with jalapeño, and honestly it didn’t work,” Merino recalls. “The flavor of the pepper with the orange juice and Champagne wasn’t good.”

Mind the Acidity. “Champagne or cava is already high in acidity, so if I add a shrub, it has to not be very vinegary, or else you multiple the acidity.”

Staff Excitement Required. Merino advises hoteliers to know their limitations; if the staff isn’t excited and educated, complex mimosas will be harder to make and sell. In that case, stick to standard recipes.