The History of the Mimosa Cocktail

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No brunch is complete without a Mimosa or two alongside your eggs benedict and smoked salmon, and it is a great tipple to have before a wedding, but the history behind our favourite pre-midday cocktail is much disputed. Of course, there is little doubt that the Mimosa is simply a variation of the much-loved Buck’s Fizz cocktail. Both drinks are made up of champagne (or sparkling wine) and orange juice, with just the quantities signifying any difference.

London’s Buck’s Club


The Buck’s Fizz was invented in 1921 at the Buck’s Club in London. The simple reason for creating the cocktail was to give gentlemen an excuse to start drinking before lunch. The original drink was actually something of a secret recipe, and was said to include other unknown ingredients. Some other variations have also listed grenadine as an ingredient, although this has never been acknowledged by the International Bartenders Association. The most widely accepted recipe includes one-part orange juice to two-parts champagne.

Paris or San Francisco


The Mimosa may have come along four years later, when a bartender called Frank Meier created it in the Ritz Hotel in Paris. His drink was a slightly more diluted version of the Buck’s Fizz, with equal measures of both ingredients, however, he never actually took the credit for the cocktail, despite mentioning it in his book, Artistry of Mixing Drinks.

Some suggest that the drink was actually created in San Francisco by none other than Sir Alfred Hitchcock, who is thought to have made it in the 1940’s. While this is a less likely story, he certainly helped to popularise the drink in the US, making it the staple brunch drink that it is today.

Although we don’t know who came up with the name, we do know that the drink was named after a pretty Australian yellow-orange shrub known as Acacia dealbata. This plant was particularly popular among French gardeners, which would further merit the Ritz Hotel story.

Variations


Of course, classic cocktail recipes can never be left alone, and the Mimosa is no different. There are many variations on this drink, including the Grand Mimosa, which features a teaspoon of Grand Marnier; the Poinsettia, which substitutes the orange juice for cranberry; the Megmosa, which uses grapefruit juice in place of orange and is garnished with raspberries; and the Soleil, which is made up of pineapple juice and champagne.

Which one’s your favourite?

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Bartender's top tip

The key to a great cocktail is balance. Ensure that the sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and alcohol are in harmony. Use fresh ingredients whenever possible, and don't be shy about adjusting the proportions to suit your taste. For instance, if you find a drink too sour, add a bit more sweetener, or if it's too sweet, balance it with a bit of citrus or bitters.

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