Late last summer I spent a week in Boulder, Colorado, and one morning we had breakfast with friends at The Kitchen, a bright and modern bistro downtown. While they had a full roster of appealing brunch cocktails, I decided to keep it light with a mocktail — and it blew me away. The Bright & Bitter was a jolly mix of fresh fruit juice, strengthened by non-alcoholic bitters into a very grown-up sip.
Lucky for all of us, The Kitchen is sharing the recipe with all of us here at The Kitchn. If you want to go beyond simple OJ at your next brunch, I have just the thing for you.
I liked a lot of things about The Kitchen (am I envious of the e? No comment!) but the attention to non-alcoholic drinks on their menu really stood out. Craft cocktails are having plenty of time in the sun, but those of us who want to take it easy for an evening or who want to avoid alcohol altogether can be left in the chilly back corner of syrupy sodas and afterthought iced teas. I really appreciate it when I see well-crafted non-alcoholic drinks on a menu.
This one is a bracing blend of fresh juices — lime, lemon, orange, and cranberry — hence the bright of the title. The bitter comes in with non-alcoholic bitters which lend spice and an aromatic depth that is usually associated with grown-up cocktails, not kiddie cocktails.
It's a delicious dose of Vitamin C to sip with brunch, and you can easily make it ahead, as I did for my recent Mother's Day brunch. I blended the juices and refrigerated them, then poured into carafes to top off with sparkling water to serve.
So delicious and refreshing — bright and bitter in all the best ways.
A big thank you to Jason Hein, bar manager at The Kitchen Boulder for sharing the recipe!
→ Visit The Kitchen or one of its sister restaurants: The Kitchen
The Bright & Bitter
Makes 12 to 16 servings.
3 cups orange juice
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cranberry juice
3/4 cup lemon juice, from about 4 lemons
3/4 cup lime juice, from about 6 limes
1/4 cup simple syrup, plus more to taste
12 dashes non-alcoholic bitters, such as Fee Brothers Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters, or to taste
Chilled soda water, to serve
Lime wedges, to serve
Mix the orange juice, cranberry juice, lemon juice, lime juice, and simple syrup in a pitcher. Add the bitters and taste. Add more bitters or simple syrup if desired.
Add ice and stir to chill, or refrigerate until cold. Top up the pitcher with soda water to taste. Serve over ice with lime wedges.
Make-Ahead Option: You could mix the juices and refrigerate in bottles several days ahead of time. My juice mix stayed fresh and tasty for well over a week.
If you want an alcoholic option: Add gin, rum, or tequila to taste.
Adapted from The Kitchen in Boulder, Colorado.
(Image credits: Rachel Joy Baransi)