While the de facto Mother's Day cocktail has long been the mimosa – that sweetly effervescent orange juice and champagne mix paired with ubiquitous Mother's Day brunch specials - moms in days of yore were served drinks with slightly more distinctive pedigrees. Sure, “Sex & The City” ensured the Cosmopolitan's dominance at book club meetings and girls' night outs in recent years, but isn't Mother's Day a time for us to drink in all that mothers do for us and, in turn, help them step away from the everyday?
In short, these lovely ladies need to be served drinks that are as classy as they are.
For too long it has been assumed that respectable moms want nothing more than a sweet drink without much of a kick. But strong moms throughout history have been known for their interest in the occasional stiff drink as much as family values, and it's far past time to deliver a better class of cocktail to those who keep our families running like well-oiled machines. Here are a few of the tipples that kept great mothers in years past from eating their young, not to mention their husbands.
The French 75 – One of Hemingway's drinks of choice, the French 75 was supposedly created by a World War I pilot with French and American blood running through his veins who found straight Champagne lacking the requisite kick someone risking his life far from home deserved. He added gin and discovered a drink that packed a punch said to be equal to the French 75mm artillery pieces of the day – thus the French 75 was born. While the drink is strong, it's also well balanced thanks to the addition of lemon and sugar, making it a favorite of well-born American women in the post-war U.S. It's a great choice for moms looking for a tasty way to unwind and ring in the springtime, not to mention reminisce about the days of dashing fighter pilots and Papa Hemingway.
• 2 oz. gin (Plymouth works beautifully, with an astringent quality that works well with the Brut champagne)
• 1 tsp sugar (preferably superfine)
• 1/2 oz. lemon juice
• Brut champagne
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour in the gin, sugar and lemon juice. Shake well and strain into a tall glass of ice. Top it off with champagne and pair with a hearty breakfast. Or, if you're looking to truly drink the way Hemingway did, just pair with another French 75.
The Dubonnet Cocktail – One of the greatest “mums” of our time, the Queen Mother, Elizabeth, reportedly was a fan of beer. But what truly wet her whistle and prepared her for a full day of leaving the kids with the governess was a Dubonnet cocktail. This combination of Dubonnet Rouge and gin was a powerful one. The herbal punch of a dry English gin and the fortified wine, herbs and spices of the Dubonnet isn't for the faint of heart. But truly, what mom could ever be accused of being that? The subtly sweet and spicy cocktail is surprisingly light and bracing, with an addictive lip-smacking quality that, by accounts, is still popular in Buckingham Palace to this day. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Queen Elizabeth II will pass the habit down to her new granddaughter-in-law. But it's easy enough to help the mum in your life start a new tradition this Sunday.
• 1 oz. Dubonnet Rouge
• 1 oz. Dry Gin (Bulldog is a great choice, having more herbaceous kick than many others)
• 1 dash orange bitters
Combine all the ingredients in a shaker full of ice and give it a hard shake until well-chilled. Strain the mixture into a martini glass and, to show mom how much you care, garnish with a lemon twist.
The Mint Julep – What mom would turn down a day lounging on the porch, relaxing under the warm sun, or maybe taking in a day at the races as beads of condensation wend their way down the sides of her glass? The mint julep is all that and more, evoking visions of ladies in dramatic dresses and hats lazing about as rich bourbon works its magic on their insides and the kids play somewhere on the expansive grounds. And with the running of the Kentucky Derby coming just a day before Mother's Day this year, there can be no better drink to reward mom's hard work. The warmth and spice of the sweet bourbon mingling with sharp spring mint and toothsome sugar, like your mom, is a true classic – one that inspired duels once upon a time. Though the julep-fueled fights concerned how to make them the right way, not who got to take your mom to the prom in their equally sweet Camaro.
• 3 oz. bourbon (1792 Ridgemont Reserve Kentucky Bourbon is a reasonably priced bourbon that seems tailor-made for a long slow day sipping a mint julep)
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• fresh mint leaves
Place 6-8 mint leaves and sugar in the bottom of a tall glass (traditionally this is a silver julep glass) and muddle them a bit, crushing the essential oils out of the herbs. Then pack the glass with crushed ice. Pour the bourbon over the ice and stir until the glass gets frosted. Then add more ice and give it another stir. Then hand it over to mom and let her kick back the rest of the day. Never get between a woman and her julep.