Low alcohol and coffee-based cocktail recipes for brunch

The keys to drinking before noon

Brunch cocktails have been playing a slow fugue while the rest of the cocktail movement has evolved at a rapid clip. Rather than settle for variations on the Mimosa or Bloody Mary themes, we've come up with three guidelines to a more inspired morning buzz.

Coffee: Bartenders love coffee; baristas love cocktails. Put those drinks together and you have the ultimate brunch beverage. We took cues from Erick Castro–who has iced coffee on tap at his bar, Polite Provisions–to create this caffeinated, herbaceous cocktail (see the recipe). For an even simpler solution, consider adding coffee liqueur to your bar.

Low Alcohol: Session-style spirits have proliferated in recent years thanks to a renewed interest in European aperitifs, so give the sparkling wine a rest. For spring, we're thinking pink with Aperol, Lillet Rosé and the just-arrived Cocchi Rosa ($18)–a kissing cousin to the popular Cocchi Americano. It stars in this refreshing play on a Pimm's Cup.

Small Pours: Any drink can be a brunch drink; just follow Lydia Reissmueller's lead and make a miniature version of your favorite libation. Her bar menu at Levant in Portland, Oregon, features small pours of infused spirits like chamomile-laced whiskey, and rum that's been infused with sun-dried limes.