Brunch somehow tastes better when there's a little splash of bourbon in your java, bubbles in your OJ or vodka in your tomato. These destinations for the leisurely weekend meal go beyond your standard-issue mimosas, teaming creative cocktails with your favorite combinations of eggs, meats, carbs and Hollandaise.
Oak Haven Table & Bar
The stylish State Street spot in New Haven relies on seasonal ingredients for its Sunday brunch menu. You'll find omelets with Stone Gardens vegetables, Blue Slope Farm sausage and onions on a brioche roll, French toast stuffed with Chaplin Farms fruit and cream cheese and eggs Benedict with local blue crab.
And Oak Haven is as serious about its bar in the morning as it is in the evening: brunch drinks are divided into "shaken and stirred," "hops" and "grapes" categories. Build your own mimosa with choice of juice, indulge in a breakfast margarita with silver tequila and orange marmalade, go savory with a bacon-garnished Bloody Mary or wake up with a Carpe Diem, made with bourbon, coffee liqueur, cold brew from The Coffee Pedaler and vanilla-bean-infused simple syrup. Entrees are $10 to $17; cocktails are $8 and $9. Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Information: 203-915-9413, oakhaventableandbar.com.
Engine Room And Oyster Club
Engine Room's "proper boozy brunch" in Mystic features micheladas, a banana bellini and two coffee cocktails, and then a clever list of "beermosas," blending liqueurs and spirits with IPAs and pilsners.
A breakfast menu includes several egg dishes, salted caramel brioche French toast and housemade pork sausage, along with sandwiches and salads. A "hangover burger" is topped with barbecue aioli, sunny-side up egg, Vermont cheddar and a beer-battered onion ring. Entrees are $10 to $15; cocktails are $8 to $10. Brunch is served Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Information: 860-415-8117 and engineroomct.com.
At Engine Room's sister restaurant Oyster Club, a new brunch features raw bar selections, a hot butter-poached lobster roll, grilled Grafton cheddar and house-cured ham sandwich with fried egg. In keeping with Oyster Club's sea-to-table theme, Bloody Mary variants are made with housemade organic tomato blends, vodka or tequila and garnished with freshly shucked Noank oysters or lobster claws. Entrees are $10 to $22; cocktails are $5 to $18. Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Information: 860-415-9266 and oysterclubct.com.
Dish Bar & Grill
Enjoy a leisurely morning/afternoon with Dish's $30 "boozy brunch" deal, which includes two cocktails and choice of entrée. Featured main plates at this downtown Hartford restaurant are indulgent, like cornflake-crusted French toast, Dutch baby pancake with sweet add-ons like berries and chocolate; a breakfast burger with a bread pudding bun and sweet-tea chicken and waffles with pepper-infused local maple syrup.
Tomato-based drinks include a classic Bloody Mary, Bull's Blood and michelada, but Dish also pops bottles for a grand mimosa, French 75 and peach bellini. Menu items and drinks are also priced a la carte. Brunch is served Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Information: 860-249-3474 and dishbarandgrill.com.
Say bonjour to this petit dejeuner: garlic-roasted shrimp omelette with poached fennel and lobster sauce, pain perdu with berries and walnuts, croque Madame with baby greens salad. West Hartford's A'Vert fills out its menu with other French specialties such as duck leg confit with green lentils, beef tenderloin tartar with housemade potato chips and moules frites.
Morning cocktails include a blood orange mimosa and a "deconstructed bellini," with champagne foam, fresh peach puree and peach vodka. Entrees are $10 to $26; cocktails are $9 to $12. Brunch is served 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Information: 860-904-6240 and avertbrasserie.com.
Tisane Euro Asian Café
You can stick to a healthy eating plan with Tisane's vegetable-filled frittatas, made with organic eggs. Or you can blow the diet altogether with the Newly Departed (bacon, peanut butter and banana jam-stuffed French toast, with bacon brittle) or the Texas Red Eye (three eggs any style, shaved steak, onions and mushrooms on toast with buffalo sauce and blue cheese fondue.) Now which option sounds like more fun?
Whatever you choose, the eclectic Hartford café features a full list of "hangover helper" cocktails to enhance your meal, including Bloody Marys with BBQ sauce and whole grain mustard; sparkling wine flavored with liqueurs and nectars; booze-spiked tea and chai drinks and coffee cordials. Entrees are $6.99 to $10.49; cocktails are $5 to $7.50. Brunch is served Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Information: 860-523-5417 and mytisane.com.
Sunday brunch with the Simsbury restaurant's famous waterfall view is a three-course prix-fixe for $29. Choose sweet (French toast stuffed with blackberry mascarpone) or savory (chicken confit hash, croque Madame) entrees, along with starters and dessert. Breakfast breads, bacon, sausage and potatoes are served family style.
The bar's inspired brunch cocktails include a Batida Rosa with cachaca, pineapple and grenadine; a Cosmopolitan Daisy with Old Tom gin, triple sec, lime and raspberry; and Absinthe Suissesse, with absinthe, mint, cream and almond. Drinks are $9 to $12. Brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Information: 860-651-5500 and millwrightsrestaurant.com.
Heirloom At The Study
You don't need to be a guest at the posh boutique hotel to enjoy a "farm to coastal" meal at its beautiful New Haven restaurant, which serves brunch Saturday and Sunday. Heirloom's thoughtful New England cuisine features twists on such classics as bananas Foster French toast (with bourbon-butter pecan gelato); "ham and eggs" with La Quercia prosciutto, burrata, arugula and coffee aioli; falafel Benedict with beet jus and cashew Hollandaise; and bagels loaded with whipped chicken livers, smoked Stonington salmon or smoked Maine trout with a fried egg.
Pair these with light, citrusy cocktails: the Pomme Rose (rose cava, Calvados, agave nectar, lemon) or the Jack and the Beanstalk (Plymouth Gin, Jack Rudy artisan tonic, Aperol and fresh grapefruit.) Entrees are $12 to $23; cocktails are $11 and $12. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Information: 203-503-3919 and heirloomnewhaven.com.
Seafood for brunch? Why not. Bonefish's signature crispy-spicy "bang bang" shrimp tops a Benedict with spicy hollandaise, as does a classic surf-and-turf combination of lobster and filet mignon. Crab and Cajun shrimp also appear in omelets. If you'd rather sugar, the crème brulee French toast is battered with Grand Marnier and orange zest and topped with strawberries and whipped cream. The bar elevates a classic mimosa with passion fruit juice. Entrees are $5.30 to $14.70; cocktails are $5 to $9.20. Brunch, at both locations in South Windsor and Newington, starts at 10 a.m. Sunday. Information: bonefishgrill.com.
Lucky Taco Cantina And Tap Room
The Hartford-based Tex-Mex food truck was missing just one thing: booze. But its new permanent location in Manchester comes with an expanded kitchen and a full bar, which facilitate its weekend breakfast offerings. Spicy specialties include breakfast burritos, eggs Zapatino on English muffins with queso and pico de gallo, eggs Guadalupe over grilled green chile cheese grits and verde sauce, migas (eggs scrambled with crispy corn tortillas) and huevos rancheros, with two eggs any style on a crispy bean and cheese quesadilla.
The bar features 20 draft beers, margaritas with fresh fruit puree and Bloody Marys with a housemade mix. Owners Erin and Dave Emmons have been experimenting with infusionssuch as Tito's vodka with sun-dried tomato, garlic and jalapeno. Entrees are $5 to $9; cocktails around $8 to $8.50. Breakfast starts at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Information: 860-432-2274 and luckytacotruck.com.
Few area brunches are as friendly to Bloody Mary lovers as Max Fish in Glastonbury, where those who love the tomato cocktail are treated to a bar with dozens of garnishes. Customize yours with house-infused vodkas, assorted pickled vegetables, hot sauces, salt and spice rims, bocconcini mozzarella, pepperoni sticks and anchovies – or even a freshly shucked oyster.
Bloody Marys are $8.95 apiece and $3 for additional ones after that, with purchase of an entree (no sharing.) Enjoy with hearty brunch plates such as biscuits and gravy, grilled filet mignon Benedict, brioche French toast or lobster Cobb salad. Entrees are $12 to $23. Brunch is served Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Information: 860-652-3474 and maxfishct.com.
Hartford's urban farm-to-table eatery is known for its indulgent Sunday brunch: cast-iron frittatas, hearty sandwiches on locally baked breads with hand-cut fries, fried chicken and waffles with maple sriracha and sage butter, an all-Connecticut cheese plate.
Cocktails follow the same seasonal approach, and current cold-weather favorites include a Bittersweet white negroni with Cocchi Americano, Aperol and gin with allspice drama and an Ultimate Hot Chocolate, with choice of liquor, housemade chocolate base with Madagascar vanilla and torched marshmallow fluff with graham crackers. Entrees are $11 to $17; cocktails are $6 to $11. Brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Information: 860-246-1222 and fireboxrestaurant.com.
Fresh Salt At Saybrook Point Inn
The waterview buffet brunch ($39.95 for adults) at the inn's Fresh Salt restaurant boasts omelets, a carving station and made-to-order pancakes and sushi, along with a make-your-own Bloody bar ($12.95.) Choose a flavored vodka, gin or tequila and customize with vegetables, condiments, sauces or even shrimp.
The bar also shakes up several cocktails, like the Fresh Saltini with vodka, St. Germain, muddled blackberries and champagne. Brunch is served from 10:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Sundays. Information: 860-388-1111 and saybrook.com.
Hash House A Go Go
You may be at Mohegan Sun to play poker or try your hand at the slots, but at Hash House A Go Go, you're going to eat like a Midwestern farmer – large portions of sage-fried chicken with bacon waffles, griddled meatloaf sandwiches, crispy pork tenderloin benedict on a biscuit with barbecue cream.
Wash these down with similarly oversized cocktails: spiked fruity lemonades and margaritas in souvenir glasses, a BLT Bloody Mary, mimosas with several varieties of juice – and if those are all too highbrow, a 24-ounce Bud Light can in a paper bag. Entrees are $7.99 to $16.99, drinks are $5.99 to $15.99. Brunch is served daily as part of the regular menu, Sunday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Information: mohegansun.com.
Brunch is an undoubtedly decadent affair at Grants in West Hartford Center, with such choices as red velvet waffles, banana pancakes with chocolate and Nutella, blackened shrimp and cheese grits, a lobster burger with Havarti and green chili aioli and raw bar towers with oysters, snow crab, jumbo shrimp and scallop ceviche.
Cocktails range from the classic mimosa and Bloody Mary to the creative Winter Island (Tanduay gold rum, Godiva white chocolate, black walnut liqueur, fresh nutmeg) and effervescent Morning Glory, with St. Germain, pear nectar and prosecco. Entrees are $10.95 to $21.95; cocktails are $9 to $12. Brunch is served Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Information: 860-236-1930 and billygrant.com/grants.
Brunch is served both Saturday and Sunday at the Mill Restaurant Group's Buckland Hills-area eatery in Manchester. Play it safe with a classic Benedict, corned beef hash or Belgian waffle with seasonal fruits, or the more outlandish ancho chile-spiced fried chicken and waffles with maple chile sauce.
Make it a "complete meal" with entrée, dessert, cocktail and unlimited coffee or tea for a $7 upcharge. Sweets include bananas Foster, chocolate chip ice cream sandwich and seasonal pie; drinks include Market Grille's signature chipotle Bloody Mary, a cranberry-vanilla sparkler or any 12-ounce draft beer. Brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Information: 860-644-1011 and marketgrillct.com.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect new information in the brunch listing at Max Fish in Glastonbury. The restaurant has changed its Bloody Mary pricing.