America’s Sunday Binge Drinking Mess Evolves
By The Wine Bae
I’m told that brunch and beautiful people have always been a thing in Manhattan. I had a chance to add my signature to the infamous history of the Ladies Who Brunch a few years ago when living in New York City. Sunday brunch was always a thing, and always accompanied by large sunglasses and multiple beverages. Usually in this order: a coffee, a blood mary, a mimosa, then more mimosa(s), and then finally the biggest glass of water possible.
I remember these brunches being long waits at cozy cafes, or bustling brasseries. The Gen X crowd that joined us often spoke of a different scene, and talked with covered mouths and whispered voices about “The Unlimiteds.” These were THOSE places that had this wild thing called “unlimited mimosa brunch” and walking past those infamous locales required dodging no-shame, blacked out early twenty-somethings, sprawled out on the sidewalk waiting for a cab at 1pm. Imagine this scene set to the soundtrack of loud club music thumping from behind a blackout curtain door. No one ever admitted to actually going to those brunches, although all who listened did so with some skepticism. It sounded it like being at the bar after the lights came on at 4am, not a cute scene. Audrey Hepburn would scowl disapprovingly.
Ok, none of the Millennials at the table ever had the heart to say that the unlimited mimosa lunch is still alive and kicking. Sure, it has moved well down the exclusivity scale, mostly reserved for new or struggling cafes, but the #winedrunk crowd can sniff them out like bloodhounds. Some things have changed though. Insta and tagging has uped the ante quite a bit and I’d submit that today’s brunchers are better off for it.
When our X’ers were unlimiting, restauranteurs were just looking for volume. You know… butts in seats. There was no incentive to appeal to a sense of foodie goodness. Just serve the cheapest sparkling schwag mixed with colorful sugary fruit juice, on demand like a broken fire hydrant. The goal was to savor some Italian bubbly while providing a bit of hair of the dog. Or maybe it was to get completely smashed as fast a possible while simultaneously harassing a server to “keep em’ coming” until they pass out in the bathroom. Who cares, no one is looking.
Today, with millions of foodie influencers roaming the dining rooms and patios tables of restaurants everywhere, everything has to be picture perfect. Plastic flutes and trash-can-punch-with-bubbles has been replaced with a decent cava served in style. #SundayFunday anyone? I’m not complaining. Snap. Flash. Hash.