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Focusing on the liquid side of brunch

I’m sliding out of a winter frame of mind into the fresh new world of spring cooking.

I’ve been squirreling away new sauce recipes for asparagus, just waiting for the first deliveries, while the freezer is practically empty of Oregon strawberry puree, and my intentions for remedying the situation are optimistic. Visions of lamb on the grill are vivid.

And then along will come Mothers Day and a plethora of other grand excuses for entertaining in the style I’m so genetically coded for: brunch. I love brunch. In part because it’s the one meal that falls between the civilized hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., which in my estimation is the perfect time to be facing decadent fare.

I like to highlight the beverage side of brunch. After all, the liquid portion of this meal shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you’re opting for alcoholic offerings, they can’t be too, well, alcoholic. There’s the rest of the day to consider, after all. So whatever you choose, it can’t leave your guests too loopy or they simply won’t go home.

Blood Orange Mimosa

Makes 1 drink

This is a colorful and very flavorful spin on the classic. Although not essential, the sugar-coated rim and thyme sprig garnish really add to the experience.

Granulated sugar (optional)

½ ounce of an herbal gin (see note below)

Sanpellegrino Aranciata Rossa (sparkling blood orange)

Sparkling wine (select a dry style)

Sprig of fresh thyme (optional)

To create a sugar rim on the wine glass, first rub it with an orange or lime wedge. Let it sit for about 1 minute to dry slightly and become sticky. Then dip the rim in a saucer of sugar. You can prepare the glass several hours ahead.

For the drink, pour in the gin, then fill halfway with the blood orange soda. Top off the drink with some sparkling wine, then garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme.

Note on gin: regional favorites with an herbacious quality include Rogue Spruce gin, Vivacity Native gin, and Aria Portland Dry gin.

Ramos Gin Fizz

Makes 1 6-ounce serving (and served in a 10- or 12-ounce Collins glass

You’ll need a cocktail shaker and plenty of cracked ice. Choose a dry gin rather than an herbal-style gin. If you want a wonderful locally produced gin, consider Corvallis based Vivacity Spirit’s creation, Baker’s Gin. Other classic dry gins include Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Beefeater, Gordon’s and Seagrams.

¼ cup (2 ounces) gin

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) heavy cream

1 large egg white

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon simple syrup

4 drops orange blossom water (see note below)

Club soda, chilled

Combine the gin, heavy cream, egg white, lemon juice, lime juice, simple syrup and orange blossom water in a cocktail shaker. Add a generous amount (about 1 heaping cup) of cracked ice, replace the lid, wrap the shaker in a towel and shake vigorously for at least 2 minutes, preferably 4 to 5. Strain into a chilled 10- or 12-ounce Collins glass, and add chilled club soda until an inch from the top, then wait for the foam to decide how high it’s going before topping off again with a bit more soda.

My Tip: It’s always a good idea to store the shaker in the freezer because this drink has to be shaken for such a long time.

Note on orange blossom water: also known as orange flower water. Kind of hard to find, but check your local liquor store.

— Recipe adapted from Cocktailchronicles.com, by Paul Clarke.

A Pitcher of Ramos Fizz

Makes 10 6-ounce servings

Although not the authentic version (no egg white and no shaking), it works really well for multiple servings, as necessary for serving a brunch crowd.

One 750 ml bottle (25.4 ounces) gin (see note)

3 cups (24 ounces) heavy cream

¾ cup (6 ounces) fresh lemon juice

¾ cup (6 ounces) fresh lime juice

¼ cup superfine sugar

1 tablespoon orange flower water

2 10-ounce bottles icy-cold seltzer water or club soda

Garnish: 10 orange slices

Combine the gin, heavy cream, lemon juice, lime juice, superfine sugar, and orange flower water in a pitcher that holds at least 90 ounces; stir vigorously to dissolve the sugar. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Just before serving, slowly add the seltzer water or club soda, tilting the pitcher and pouring onto the pitcher’s side to retain as much effervescence as possible. Stir gently to combine. Serve in tall 10-ounce glasses or wineglasses; garnish each serving with an orange slice, hooking it over the glass rim.

Alternatively, pour a serving of the gin/cream mixture into the glass, then top with the seltzer or club soda.

— Recipe adapted from “Pitcher Drinks,” by Sharon Tyler Herbst

Sparkling Sangria

Makes about 10 8-ounce servings

¾ cup triple sec or other orange-flavored liqueur

¾ cup fresh orange juice

½ cup brandy

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

½ cup (approximately) superfine sugar

Two 750-ml bottles (50.8 ounces) sparkling wine or Champagne (Brut or extra-dry), thoroughly chilled

2 cups orange-flavored sparkling water, thoroughly chilled

Garnishes: 1 orange, 1 lemon, 2 limes, sliced

In a pitcher that holds at least 96 ounces (12 cups) combine the orange-flavored liqueur, with the orange juice, brandy, lime juice, and superfine sugar, stirring to dissolve. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, slowly pour in the sparkling wine (or Champagne) and the sparkling water, tilting the pitcher and pouring onto the pitcher’s side to retain as much effervescence as possible. Stir gently to combine. Add fruit slices. Fill 12-ounce wine glasses two-thirds full with ice cubes; add Sangria and a slice or two of fruit.

— Recipe adapted from “Pitcher Drinks,” by Sharon Tyler Herbst

Tequila-Grapefruit Brunch Punch

Makes 12 drinks

For the Grapefruit Syrup:

Zest from two medium grapefruits (preferably a Ruby Red variety)

2 cups freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (approximately 3 to 4 grapefruits)

2 cups granulated sugar

For the pitcher drink:

6 sprigs fresh thyme

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (approximately 6 limes)

2 cups light tequila

1 cup grapefruit syrup

12 sprigs fresh thyme for garnish

To prepare the grapefruit syrup: Combine the grapefruit zest, juice and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat, cover and let stand until the sugar has completely dissolved, stirring occasionally. Strain the syrup to remove the zest. Store in an airtight container. May be prepared and refrigerated up to 1 week until ready to use.

To prepare the beverage: In the bottom of a pitcher, muddle the thyme sprigs with the salt. Add the lime juice and stir. Add the tequila and grapefruit syrup. Refrigerate until well chilled.

To serve, fill wine glasses with ice. Add the punch and garnish each serving with a sprig of thyme.

— Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis food writer, artist, and author of “Oregon Hazelnut Country, the Food, the Drink, the Spirit,” and four other cookbooks. Readers can contact her by email at janrd@proaxis.com, or obtain additional recipes and food tips on her blog at www.janrd.com.