If you are not doing brunch, you should be. I mean, assuming you don’t have other plans that require you to head out early. Actually, even if you have early plans you could always pop back by the house to eat, that is totally in bounds. In fact, some say that brunch was born of folks heading out early before coming back home to eat. If you believe the legends, the idea originated with English hunting parties, where a late breakfast would be prepared using the meats from that morning’s hunt. Whether that is true or not, I like the idea of it and I love sitting down to a mid morning repast with a glass of something bubbly. We are sticking with our sparkling wine theme and making a large format punch for brunch. So, won’t you please join me now as we stand and make Otho’s BrunchaPuncha.
This one comes to us from Dylan Holcomb at Denver’s awesome Beatrice & Woodsley. Sadly, they are closed for Covid, but I hope they will reopen soon. Obviously, I was drawn to this one for it’s cool presentation and it is worth the trouble. If you don’t have a french press, you can also do this one in a pitcher. What it takes in prep time, it makes up for in incredible flavor and a french press full of cocktails suitable for 6, allegedly, but two of us handled it just fine, over a leisurely morning. I have been unable to find any reasonable explanation why this is Otho’s Punch. Off the top of my head I could only think of two Othos. The roman emperor, who ruled for three months in 69 AD as one of the quartet holding that honor in “the Year of Four Emperors”. At one point prior to his ascension, his friend, the Emperor Nero, forced him to divorce and go into exile in Lusitania, so Nero could marry his wife, in preparation for his upcoming violin concert, I assume. I m not seeing a lot of inspiration for this drink in his story. I guess we could tie the Italian Prosecco to a Roman emperor, but that feels weak. The other Otho appears in Beetlejuice and beyond that sweet summery suit he was gifted by everyone’s favorite bio-exorcist, I am not seeing a link. I suppose we could read between the lines and surmise that when he claims to be “skilled in chemistry” he may be referring to working as a conceptual mixologist at a swanky brunch place between his time with the Living Theatre and his ascension as a leading paranormal researcher in New York, before the bottom dropped out in ’72. Will we ever solve this mystery? Probably not, I just don’t think our collective attention span is up to the task. It is more likely that the prep cook who was tasked with picking the leaves off the mint and making all those melon ball, cucumber coins and ribbons was named Otho. What better way to immortalize the person who does the real work on this cocktail than by naming it after him?
Speaking of prep work, let’s do that first, so slice up some cucumbers, ball some melons and pick some mint. For all of these of these ingredients, you are going to make some for the shaker, some for the press and some for garnish, so use your best judgment here. You are going to want 8 slices of cucumber. I went with 1/4 inch coins, 4 for the tins and 4 for the press. I also grabbed the vegetable peeler and made some nice 4-5 inch peels, for the garnish. Next grab half a cantaloupe and pop out 10 melon balls. 4 for the tins, 4 for the press and 2 for garnish. Mint is trickier, depending on how well your garden grows, ours is doing great so we grabbed 3 big sprigs, one for each element. Go ahead and pack your french press with this bounty, I opted to use some pebble ice in the bottom to keep everything cool and to hold things in place, so it would be pretty. Now that you have had fun with cukes, melons and mint, let’s move one to the drink making.
Grab your tins and pop in 4 ounces of fresh squeezed lemon juice with the 4 slices of cucumber, 4 melon balls and a handful of mint. It’s brunch time, so muddle gently to the tune of “Sunday Kind of Love” by Etta James. When those flavors are released, transfer it all to your big tin and add 4 ounces of vodka, I chose Stolichnya; 2 ounces of Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, 2 1/2 ounces of simple syrup and 3-5 stabs of El Guapo Cucumber Lavender Bitters. Carefully add some ice, your tins are going to be right at capacity, I actually used a pint glass in place of my small tin, and give it a good shake. When your tins get cold, strain into the french press cup on top of your cucumber, melon and mint mix. Top with prosecco, I chose LaMarca and place the lid on the press. I went ahead and slowly pressed down till I met resistance and then poured up the drink in a collins glass filled with pebble ice. Garnish with one of those cucumber peels wrapped around a melon ball on a cocktail pick, pop in a Surfside Sips reusable glass straw and serve.
This drink is seriously wonderful and totally worth the time. All of these flavors sing together. The prosecco makes it light and airy and the cantaloupe, cucumbers and mint really gives this one an amazing base. I am pretty sure the vodka is just there to up the alcohol content, but that ginger liqueur brings plenty of flavor. This one is slightly sweet, but with a nice complex flavor. This is totally a brunch drink that actually goes well with the food. Plus, it is just beautiful in every way.
Sure it takes a few minutes to prep this one, but, honestly, it’s not a huge challenge, especially if you are already doing brunch, which you totally should be. We had ours with soft eggs served on avocado toast with some everything bagel seasoning and it was wonderful, if a bit pretentious. As I sipped my cocktail, eating ethically sourced avocado topped with farm raised eggs on homemade sourdough toast from our vintage Cavalier Ironstone plates on handcrafted Vermont slate mats sitting atop my great great grandparents oak farm table, I thought to myself, “yep, that’s good enough.” Yeah, I was not witty, but our brunch game was solid and artisanal as fuck. So, why not have a cocktail to match? Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.