A mimosa is a welcome start to any day, but it’s needed on Christmas morning, just to take the harsh edge off the sound of ripping wrapping paper. The combination of sparkling wine and fruit juice doesn’t need much in the way of tweaking, nor does it really call for an exact recipe—but it could use a little nuance. And nothing delivers nuance quite like cocktail bitters.
Sure, nuance tends to get lost after a couple of drinks, but try a few dashes in your first (or even second) morning-time cocktail, and treat your tastebuds to something ever so slightly different. Cocktail bitters are, after all, the spice rack of the bar cart. They’ll give your juicy beverage a little gravitas, a bit of depth, and undeniable character.
Any flavor of bitters that strikes your fancy will work, but I highly recommend classic Angostura or Regan’s orange bitters. Angostura, with its strong gentian backbone and hints of clove and cinnamon, will give your beverage a decidedly Christmas-y vibe, much like an orange studded with whole cloves.
Adding orange bitters to an orange-based beverage may seem redundant, and orange bitters will up the citrus factor, but it’s more orange peel than juice, and tempered with cardamom, caraway, coriander, anise, and cinnamon. If you want to get crazy, branch out with another fruit bitter like grapefruit or cranberry.
To serve, set the bitter bottles out alongside the bubbly and a juice or two. I like tangerine and grapefruit, and I serve them in restaurant-style squeeze bottles to better control the flow of the juice. I like my mimosa to be (much) more Champagne than juice, and it’s much easier to achieve that when I can squirt it in there instead of pouring it.