Blue Star Diner
This little Bridgeland spot (winner of the “Best Brunch” category in this year’s Avenue Food Issue) has the best breakfast-cocktail list in town right now, with unique offerings like the Mall Rat, a frothy blend of Iceberg vodka, fresh orange juice, almond milk and vanilla extract, inspired by that suburban mall staple, the Orange Julius (if you’re more about the Strawberry Julius, you can also get it made with strawberry puree).
Blue Star also does a knockout Bourbon Milk Punch, a New Orleans-inspired sipper with two ounces of Bulleit Bourbon topped up with milk, sweetened with agave syrup and garnished with a sprinkling of nutmeg and a slice of banana. If you prefer a more savoury starter, the Day of the Dead is a piquant pint glass of tequila, lime juice, Clamato, beer and bartender Johnny Whitehead’s special “angry sauce.”
(809 1 Ave. N.E., 403-261-9998, bluestardiner.ca, @bluestar_yyc)
Brunch doesn’t exist in Italy but that didn’t stop restaurateur Giuseppe di Gennaro from devising his own version of Italian brunch, complete with a cocktail list worthy of style icon Guido Anselmi from Fellini’s “8 1/2.” The standard Prosecco Bellini is on there, along with more ambitious offerings like the “Carosone,” a 2-ounce blend of bourbon, Cinzano Rosso and Gassossa and the “Crodino 16,” a mix of Martini Rosso, Crodino, rum and lemon juice. Cin cin!
(818 16 Ave. S.W., 403-245-2202)
This vintage-decorated room is the place to go if you’re harbouring serious “Mad Men” style envy. If that extends to having a drink in your hand, no matter how early the hour, order up a breakfast negroni – 1/2 oz of Campari and 1 oz of gin shaken over ice with a generous splash of OJ, garnished with a slice of orange and served in a rocks glass. The drink is also known as the LBC (Long Beach California), a reference to rapper Snoop Dogg’s penchant for gin and juice. Whatever you call it, a couple of these and you’ll be feeling laaaid back…
(804 Edmonton Tr. N.E., 403-276-5499, dinerdeluxe.com, @diner_deluxe)
A leisurely late-morning cocktail (or two…) is the perfect accoutrement when you’re brunching on the front-porch patio of this Beltline-area restaurant set in a heritage home. Flirty and feminine, the Pink Sun is a fizzy mix of grapefruit juice, sparkling wine and blackcurrant juice. Garnish with your most stylish sun hat and a pair of chic shades.
(1111 7 St. S.W., 403-228-3771)
Ox and Angela
This stylish 17th Avenue restaurant mixes up some of the best cocktails in town (the bourbon-vanilla Los Agrios is at the top of my list). As far as brunch goes, it stays true to its Spanish influences by offering a super sangria, available, naturally, by the jug.
(528 17 Ave. S.W., 403-457-1432, oxandangela.com)