It started back in New York when I was working in the restaurant business. New Year’s Eve is big business and in New York, they take it seriously. 4am. Therefore, guess who started prepping at 2 in the afternoon and didn’t get done until 4am? Yup, that was me.
I watched everyone else have a blast…eating, drinking, dancing, drinking again and drinking too much (LOL) but I was working and working hard so I really didn’t get to participate in the New Years Eve traditions for a chunk of my life when I was active in the restaurant industry. But there was this amazing upside to that; New Year’s Day Brunch!
It became an unwritten rule, that a whole bunch of us who had worked all night, would grab a couple of hours sleep, shower, change and meet up at some fabulous spot in the Hamptons for an unlimited Mimosa and Bloody Mary Brunch. It was our version of the night before. But somehow, it was more relaxing and less frantic. Depending on where we’d eat, the menu was always special (Lobster Eggs Benedict with Caviar rings a bell!) and the champagne and Bloody Marys just kept coming. No worries about driving. Considering the outrageous tips we all earned the night before, we always had a driver.
The scene was quieter (More than half of the population was sleeping it off so it was a great time to kick back and relax.). The wait staff was always fresh (hadn’t worked the night before) and eager to please. And so it began…my love of New Year’s Day Brunch.
Truth be told, there are years where it just wouldn’t have worked. Everyone was still going out the night before and partying and loving every minute. The thought of them getting up early for brunch was not even on their radar. And the thought of me getting up even earlier to prepare food and serve it after a night out could just make me burst out laughing…No Way!
But as we got older, more and more people were able to entertain the idea and more and more people started looking for other ways to ring in the New Year without having to drive or deal with the “rookies” on the road. You know, the ones who considered doing 20 shots in 2 hours a fun way to pass the evening (or should I say pass out?) and then attempt to drive home…UGH. My friends started loving the idea of brunch and I was ready, willing and able to get back to one of my favorite things.
New Year’s Day Brunch is kind of the “Super Bowl” of brunches. You want to have lots of choices, set the stage for a new year where anything is possible and you want to have some fun! I also know that since I will be doing most of the work, I like to plan ahead and do as much as I can ahead of time. That means prepping dishes the night before and setting up my bar so guests can help themselves. I also round out the buffet with things I’ve asked my guests to bring OR that I’ve purchased at the store. A basket of bagels and assorted cream cheese flavors, donuts, a fruit salad, etc. give people options. I usually just do either a Mimosa or Bloody Mary bar with various juices for the mimosas and all kinds of add ins for the Bloody Marys. If guests want something else, I encourage them to bring it themselves. I’ll always have water, juice, coffee and tea ready to go.
This year, I’ve decided on a Blood Mary Bar. I will set out three pitchers of juice: plain tomato juice, plain Clamato juice and one Bloody Mary Starter. In my starter pitcher, I season the tomato juice with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, Tabasco, a little horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice. I don’t over spice this base mix at all. Rather, I have extra horseradish, Tabasco and a few other specialty hot sauces on the bar so guests can add to their liking. This “basic Bloody Mary Juice” is just to get them started. Then, in tall glasses, bowls and platters, I put out the following condiments and add ons:
. Crispy cooked bacon strips
. Cooked and chilled jumbo shrimp
. Dill pickle spears
. Cocktail onions
. Lemon and lime wedges
. Jumbo green olives stuffed with a variety of fillings like: pimentos, blue cheese and garlic
. Traditional Celery Sticks
. Skewers of small chunks of cheese and salami folded into quarters
. Bowls of horseradish sauce and wasabi paste
. Bottles of Worcestershire sauce, Tobasco and various hot sauces
Now, for the food. This year’s menu has a nice assortment of sweet and savory so everyone is happy. I have a couple of people that won’t touch bread and another who won’t eat pork. Don’t we all have people in our lives with those kind of limitations? So, I try to make sure everyone has something they can eat. I serve everything on a buffet so they can pick and choose themselves. Depending on how many people you are having over, feel free to increase or decrease the servings in each recipe by doubling or cutting in half. They are all very flexible. If you want to go crazy and add even more options, check out my Brunch Page for other recipe ideas.
The key in my mind is abundance and variety…make it feel like a party. I have noisemakers and hats out for any that missed ringing in the big event the night before. There is no way to stop someone from turning on the game either…so just go with it.
Keep this easy and relaxing and you’ll enjoy the day immensely.
THIS YEAR’S MENU:
Bloody Mary Bar
Water, juices, tea & coffee
Bagels & Cream Cheese – have a friend bring or buy an assortment
Maple glazed Turkey Sausage Patties
Brown Sugar Bacon