Tag Archives: Brunch

The Best Brunch Drinks (That Aren’t Mimosas or Bloody Marys)

You already know that the Chop approves of brunch as a lifestyle choice. We even endorse mini-brunching on the weekdays. There is one little bone we’ve got to pick with brunch though, and although another Mother’s Day has come and gone, we’re going to address it now, because better late than never.

To our mind, the thing that makes brunch brunch is the booze. It’s not the cuisine that’s served or the time or place it’s eaten, it’s the booze and only the booze. You don’t drink at breakfast, and lunch drinking (if you’re lucky enough for that) is markedly different from the Sunday Ritual.

We never claimed we weren't an asshole. Now go fetch us some Campari, boy.

Our problem with brunch menus is that they’re dominated almost entirely by Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas. Now, there’s nothing wrong with these two traditional brunch drinks. They’re both tried and true classics to be sure. It’s just that, personally, we don’t really much care for either of them.

Our point of contention is that both brunchers and restaurants should be a little more imaginative. Some restaurants try to get creative, but end up being way too cute; adding okra, lemons, limes, green beans, tomato slices, rhubarb, olives, and anything else they’ve got laying around until your Bloody Mary approaches the absurd. These “house recipes” often look more like a garden in a glass than an actual drink. And don’t even get us started on the so-called ‘Man-mosa’ in any of its hideous variations. Gross. Stupid. Childish.

Instead of just offering all you can drink bloodys or mimosa’s, we’d love to see more restaurants coming up with their own cocktails for brunch. How about offering the first drink free, eh? Think that might get some asses in the seats? Whenever we’re awake and aware in time for brunch, we make sure to do our part to confound the bartender by ordering something he might actually have to turn around to make. Here’s five of our favorite calls for brunch cocktails.

  • The Madras. The Madras is a classic, and we can never understand why it doesn’t get more love at brunch. Orange and Cranberry aren’t ingredients you’d reach for immediately after dark, but if the sun is shining you can’t go wrong. We say pour it a little weak and don’t be afraid to have more than one.
  • Kahlua. You know those cereal commercials where they show the product next to a bunch of healthy food and say “part of this complete breakfast?” Well, Kahlua completes brunch. Skip the vodka, just put it on the rocks and serve it.
  • Pernod and water. Take a shot of Pernod, pour it over ice, and add as much water as you like. Since this is brunch, and not a Friar’s Club roast, feel free to top off that highball glass with water. Then sip liberally. Pernod’s bittersweet licorice-like flavor will remind you you’re supposed to be awake and help jumpstart your appetite. If the restaurant doesn’t have it, ask for Strega instead.
  • Campari and soda. Sure, Campari is bitter, but it’s bitter in a good way. Espresso is sort of bitter. So are a lot of herbal teas. These have their place at the brunch table, and so should Campari. Plus, you can make up little songs by rhyming it with safari and Rastafari. You’ll never be able to do that with a mimosa.
  • Anything with Saint Germain in it. Trendy restaurants love to sell you $14 elderflower cocktails on Saturday night, but come Sunday morning they conveniently forget all about it and try to foist off cheap champagne on brunchers. If we were in charge of the Saint Germain brand we’d be sponsoring brunch events all over the place, with custom cocktail menus, food pairings, the whole works. The truth is that it’s damn near impossible to make a bad drink with Saint Germain. For brunch, take some Saint Germain, something fizzy, and a splash of liquor. There are 10,000 possible combinations, and they’re all great choices.

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Today is Mothers’ Day

We’d like to wish Mama Chop and mom’s everywhere a happy Mother’s Day today. Treat your mom right today because if you don’t, well…

If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

So let's keep mama happy.

Be sure to do something nice for mom. Get her a card or a nice gift. You might even take her to brunch or buy her some flowers.

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The HGTV Drinking Game

Ever since we got into the market to buy our first home, we’ve been watching a lot of HGTV. Whether you’re looking for design and decor ideas for your own house, or just want to gawk at the way other people are living, Home and Garden’s got something for you.

We especially like to watch on weekend days, which is prime time for domestic projects and a time when there’s typically very little else on the air worth watching. Of course, weekend days are also the best time for brunch, and it’s this happy coincidence that led us to invent the HGTV drinking game.

The Chop's favorite HGTV show? The Unsellables, of course.

HGTV features dozens of different shows, but they all basically fall into one of three categories; interior design makeovers, buying and selling, and total renovation. As you’d imagine, there’s plenty of crossover among those categories, so you can still play the game effectively whether you’re watching Color Splash, Bath Crashers, or Property Virgins.

Since we’re talking about brunch and daylight here, it’s important to note that this game is best played with a Bloody Mary, French 75, Madras, or similar cocktail. No Jameson shots or canned beer shotgunning here.

Take one sip when you hear the words:

  • backsplash
  • lifestyle
  • entertaining
  • neutral
  • ugly
  • green
  • distressed
  • repurposed
  • walk away from
  • mid-century
  • counter space
  • stainless steel
  • surprise
  • granite
  • short sale

Take two sips if:

  • the homeowner overpaid during the boom
  • anyone complains about anything in relation to ‘double sinks’ or ‘a true master suite’
  • a homeowner is hit with a surprise added expense during a renovation
  • the room makeover is < $50 under budget
  • anyone demands an open floor plan
  • you spot anything from ikea
  • someone uses a dining room as anything other than a dining room
  • the show is filmed in Canada
  • the homeowner has a stupid hobby
  • anyone makes a cheap headboard from scratch

Three sips if:

  • anyone has to design around a big screen TV.
  • someone’s parents are paying part of their rent/mortgage
  • there’s a marriage proposal involved in the episode
  • anyone thinks they’re in a ‘bad area’ or ‘dangerous neighborhood’
  • a property is priced over $1,000,000

Drain your drink if:

  • the show is filmed in Baltimore
  • a real estate transaction falls through at the end of the show
  • someone sustains a fairly serious injury during filming
  • someone cries for any reason

These are just a few suggestions. You can add more of your own, or even subtract a few if things get out of hand. Ideally, you shouldn’t be passed out by mid-afternoon, but should be just buzzed enough to say “Why yes, I do need to go to Pier 1 and buy a creepy glass head like right now! That’s exactly what I need in my life.

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Elevenses: A Mini-Brunch For the Weekdays

You already know that The Chop Approves of Brunch. How could anyone not approve of brunch, really? In an age when most breakfasts consist of things like Nutri-grain bars, cereal, frozen waffles and drive-thru fare, it’s nice to sleep late once a week and wake up to eggs benedict, French toast, and fresh fruits and cheeses. Perhaps the menu is not what we like most about brunch. We suspect that these things taste most savory because we have the luxury of time in which to enjoy them.

Of course, this is also the one drawback to brunch… this once a week status. Why should something so delicious and luxurious be relegated to Sundays only? Do we not deserve the chance to stuff our faces mid-morning 7 days a week? Is that not the American way?

Want to be like Joe Strummer? Skip the Wheaties and take elevenses.

The British have one-upped us on this score, America. The English may not be know for their culinary ambition, but they have brought something to the world table which we have by and large failed to sample and savor: Elevenses.

Granted, they may not be very good at this even, with many of them subsisting on Hydrox cookies and Earl Grey, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pick up the ball and run with it. We’ve actually got some pretty good convenience foods here stateside, and if your office happens to be near one of Baltimore’s many bakeries, cake shops or cafes, you’re already set to pick up breakfast at 7:30, and a little something extra for elevenses. Just think of it… all that time you spend forwarding emails and fooling around with Facebook, you could be sneaking off to the break room for a fresh cup of coffee and one of these.

For our part, we’re a lazy blogger. We sleep until 11, so for us it’s just breakfast. When we’re outside the country though, you know, doing real work and waking up at 7 am every morning, we always take elevenses. Of course, we don’t call it that. We call it a coffee break. But it’s a perfect chance to sit back for half an hour, relax a bit, and tide yourself over until lunch. It really makes the work go by much more quickly and pleasantly, and is easily one of our favorite moments in the day.

Maybe you’re reading this at your desk right now. Maybe you’re a little hungry and a little bored. (You must be if you’re reading blogs at work.) Go ahead, take elevenses. Right now. If your boss asks, just explain that the English do it every day, so it must be right and proper. And after all, aren’t we better at eating than the Brits?

It’s not just a small, mid-morning meal… it’s a matter of national pride.

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Bikes, Bands and Burritos @ Charm City Art Space Today

So, the Baltimore Chop has already gone on record as giving brunch our seal of approval, but if there’s one thing we like more than fancy hotel brunch, it’s gotta be DIY punk rock brunch- which is exactly what we’re doing today.

This is late-breaking developments, Baltimore! We were tentatively planning to do the day-tripping thing today, and check out the DC Record Fair at the Black Cat before taking the metro down to Nationals Park to see our O’s reign victorious in the Battle of the Beltways, but when we suggested this to Roommate he say “No way Jose! Domingo esta los Bicycletas, Mariachis, y Burritos!!!” or something to that effect.

Bikes, Bands and Burritos is at Charm City Art Space today. Doors= too early.

Yes Baltimore, today is the annual celebration of Bikes, Bands, and Burritos at Charm City Art Space. We’re going to treat this as brunch since we’re lazy and won’t be rolling out of bed until noon, but to a lot of other people, it means much more than that.

This week was National Bike to Work Week and as we all know, North Baltimore loves bikes. In addition to being a worthy cause on its own, Bike to Work Week has been endorsed by some of the Chop’s favorite blogs, namely the Magnificent Bastard and Kempt. Although the Chop recommends you follow local custom and throw your bike in the back of a co-worker’s car and go to happy hour on the way home from the office.

In an extra little bit of kismet, today’s show also coincides with the Baltimore Bike Jam and Kelly Cup, and if you pedal fast enough you can even do both.

But down to brass tacks: if you want to buy, sell, or trade a bicycle or some bicycle parts, show up at 10 am. If you want to participate in a punkrock group ride around the city, show up by 10:30. And if you want to do like the Chop does and see Tiny Bombs and Fires and nosh on tasty veggie Mexican food (swap napa cabbage for kale there) show up at noon sharp, because that’s what time they’re playing.

It’s all pot luck, and the Chop loves to wow ’em with the veggie pot luck surprise, so we’re definitely bringing a dish. We even made a trip to the Upper Fells’ Point supermercado the other day, so we’ve got some authentic ingredients cold chillin’ in our fridge.

And if you’re still unsatisfied with that, you can always walk around the corner and get a proper brunch at Joe Squared (who knew?) and go authentico with one of their many tequilas like we just might.



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House Rules: The Chop Approves of Brunch

It’s Mothers’ Day in Charm City, and that could only mean one thing; its time to sit down to brunch.

At this very moment, cooks all over Baltimore are scrambling massive quantities of eggs, bartenders are making sure the Champagne is well-chilled, and servers are already daydreaming about how to spend an apron full of tip money. While Mothers’ Day is very closely associated with brunch nationwide, this scene plays itself out here in town every Sunday, and most Saturdays too. Baltimoreans have fully embraced brunch culture, and if you’re looking for a late-morning repast on the weekends, its almost easier to ask yourself who doesn’t offer brunch around here?

Nothing says decadence like Pernod and eggs Florentine in a fancy hotel on Sunday morning.

The Chop approves of brunch. If you find yourself at a brunch table, you know that you’ve done something right. More than a meal, brunch is a lifestyle choice. Even more than that though, its a lifestyle choice that is almost exclusively the province of the urban middle and upper classes. You won’t find proper brunch offerings at Granny’s Country Kitchen in Podunksburg, WV. Likewise you’ll notice that most of your better options for brunch are more Manhattan than they are Bronx.

Its always been this way. According to some website we found, the English invented brunch near the turn of the century when their aristocratic, fox-hunting, Tory asses came back to the Manor after a ‘hunt’ and had their butlers lay table with a proper meal decidedly different from a traditional English supper. Supposedly the practice was adopted at places like Oxford and Cambridge when the Brits wanted to combine eating with all manner of WASP-y pursuits like tennis matches, crew rowing tournaments, yacht regattas, etc.

Some other website we found suggests that the popularity of brunch is in inverse proportion to the popularity of Churchgoing. This would explain why its so well favored by coastal elite types and not the ‘real’ ‘heartland’ Americans in the flyover states. Still other sources note the link between urbanites who make a habit of drinking heavily late into Saturday nights and look to a long, leisurely meal of fruits, carbs, and protiens (along with a couple of brunch cocktails) as the best remedy for a hangover. The Chop falls firmly into this category.

A little old-fashioned, just a touch elitist, Godless, gossipy, drunk and delicious. Is it any wonder the Chop, and Baltimore, approves of brunch?


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Orioles Opening Day @ Camden Yards Today

Like we said way back in December, Opening Day is the real New Years’. The Baltimore Chop could scarcely be more excited for the season. Not because we expect great things on the field, or because we have great seats, or even because the weather is gorgeous. No. We’re excited merely because when the lights are up and the boys are on the grass, time will stand still. As long as the game goes on watches stop, tomorrow never comes, and everything outside the gates exists in a different world entirely. This year becomes connected to all the years of our lives.

This is the magic of baseball.

1954 Opening Day parade courtesy of the Baltimore Sun

And judging by the availability of tickets, a lot of you are excited too. The ol’ Chop was thrown for a loop, since we’ve been out of town for the last several openers, and we remember hearing that about ten thousand loyal souls showed up last year. We kind of figured most of you are working for a living, and that we had the market cornered on weekday day games (our favorite games of all). So we were shocked, shocked! when all we could get more than a week in advance was 4 in the upper deck, none of them together and all 4x the bargain night price we’re used to.

So be it. We’re gathering Roommate and two other loyal Choppers here at our stately North Baltimore pleasure dome for a mid-morning brunch. And by brunch we mean los huevos rancheros, French Toast, per-taters, bloody mary’s with the old bay rim, madras’, and yeah… champagne. Cause that’s how we roll.

The national anthem plays on opening day 1954. Courtesy of the Baltimore Sun

After that we cab it down to the MRT and do Boh’s for lunch, before hopping onto the light rail for a little Camden Street festivities before we cop a spot on Eutaw and begin texting everyone else we know who has tickets with the obligatory “What section are you in, come drink with us!” message til we figure out where to sit for the rest of the game, cause let’s face it… there’s got to be some place.

This is just the first of many trips to the yard over the coming months. hell, we might even hit up Matt Wieters t-shirt Tuesday this week cause you know… 14 orange t-shirts in the drawer is never enough.

Cal Jr. rounds 3rd on opening day of his rookie season, 1982 Courtesy of the Baltimore Sun

We’re also signed up for our slot on The Daily Camden over at Welcome to Baltimore, Hon, which is one of the most ambitious and ingenious ideas a Baltimore blog has had in quite some time. Check it out.

The International League Orioles opening day at Oriole Park (29th and Greenmount), 1937. Courtesy of the Baltimore Sun

Or if you’re the impatient type, and want to see a bunch of great photos right now, you can check out the Baltimore Sun’s archive of past opening day photos, from which we borrowed the pictures for this post.

Happy New Years’ Baltimore!

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