We'd be lying if we said we weren't still thinking about Alex Drummond's wedding! Every detail of the big day and the events leading up to it were seriously swoon-worthy, especially her bridal shower. We're talking custom cookies, the springy dresses Alex and her sister Paige wore, the stunning decorations, and the three-tiered "marble" cake that was almost too pretty to eat. But there was one element in particular that stood out above the rest: that incredibly crafty DIY mimosa bar. 😍
What is a mimosa bar, you ask? Oh, just the best thing to ever happen to mimosas—and to your next brunch party. Simply put, it's a deconstructed, do-it-yourself presentation of the classic mimosa ingredients—champagne, orange juice, and a few just-for-fun garnishes. Guests are encouraged to help themselves, pouring and decorating their drinks as they see fit.
And orange juice, by the way, is only the beginning of the fun: For the shower, a variety of different citrus juices were set out on the counters of The Merc Bakery alongside champagne bottles and pretty orange slices.
Of course, as fabulous as it all is, you might be wondering why someone would go to the trouble of unraveling the entire recipe...just to put it back together again. Blogger Eden Passante of Sugar and Charm has the answer: "When you’re entertaining, it’s always nice to have something guests can do and have conversations over, like a fun activity which breaks the ice."
She's right: A mimosa bar provides an activity, a décor piece, and a beverage all in one. Plus, who doesn't love an opportunity for customization? "It allows your guests to make their cocktail recipe exactly the way they like it," Eden continues. "Maybe someone wants a lot of Champagne and a splash of juice, or vice versa. It’s always fun to make your own drink, especially when all of the ingredients are pre-prepared."
Below, you'll learn exactly how to set up a DIY mimosa bar at home. Whether you're looking ahead to Mother's Day brunch or just trying to mix things up (literally!) at your family's weekly Sunday brunch, you're going to want to take note of these brilliant, budget-friendly tips.
Start with a great location. You don't want your guests having to stand on their tippy-toes or maneuver their way through a tight space in your home to reach the good stuff—especially with so many potentially messy liquids involved. Instead, choose a spot where all ingredients are easily accessible, like a bar cart, side table, or countertop.
Next, add those ingredients! As far as the basics go, you'll need a bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine, orange juice, and ice to keep it all cold. But you can also opt for more than one type of fruit juice, like Alex did (more on that later!).
Last but not least, add a few finishing touches: Set out champagne flutes in place of your everyday glassware, and decant the juices into pretty glass carafes to elevate things even further. The magic of a truly beautiful mimosa bar, after all, is in the personal details and extras.
"Personally, I like to add a variety of garnishes in small bowls," says Eden. "I also set out cocktail napkins to keep things tidy, plus an elegant tray to set the drink 'station' apart from the rest of the brunch."
Orange juice is the most classic option, to be sure. But don't forget: The whole point of a mimosa bar is to go off-script in a totally untraditional way. While you can definitely still offer OJ, it's fun to include a smattering of other options as well. Eden suggests trying blood orange juice, grapefruit juice, and/or pineapple juice, and she even offered up the idea of making your own blends with puréed or juiced fruits. "It's such an easy way to take your bar to the next level," she explains.
Garnishes are already an out-of-the-box choice and not part of the traditional mimosa recipe, so you shouldn't be afraid to really have fun with it. Eden typically sets out small bowls of colorful berries, orange slices, and grapefruit slices, and she also adds festive drink stirs for guests as well. She's even included popsicles before (yes, popsicles!), and playful "tassels" that guests can use to remember which drink belongs to whom. Fresh herbs, such as mint and rosemary, would also be a beautiful touch.
As with any DIY food bar, it can also be a good idea to include some signage to help your guests make their way around the ingredients. You can offer up a classic mimosa recipe by printing it out, framing it, and placing it near the bar, or even illustrate it with watercolor depictions of the various ingredients. Alternatively, just label each of the juices to avoid confusion—"Grapefruit," "Orange," and so on.
Once again, there's a traditional precedent here: Champagne! Specifically, a Brut is encouraged.
But opting for a dry sparkling wine instead is a really good idea. In fact, it's suggested. Not only does sparkling wine function in exactly the same way as the fancier (read: pricier) Champagne, but it's also way more budget-friendly. In the same way that you wouldn't use an expensive liquor to cook with, you may not want to sacrifice a top-shelf bottle of Champagne for a brunch party—no matter how special the occasion.
What's more, with the money you save, you can grab a few extra mixers to add to the fun. "Having liqueurs like Chambord or Cointreau on hand is such a fun twist," Eden says, referring to the popular raspberry- and orange-flavored liqueurs, respectively. She's also used a unique pear liqueur in the past. "Your guests can add a splash of one or the other to their mimosa."
The general rule of thumb here is that each 750ml bottle of wine will yield between 6-8 mimosas. Think about how many people you're hosting, how many drinks each guest will likely have (likely between 2 and 3), and calculate accordingly.
Admittedly, it can be tricky to keep the various drink ingredients cold once they're out of the fridge. So, unless you're going for mimosa soup, your best bet is to use a large bucket or metal beverage tub filled with ice to store the champagne bottles and fruit juice carafes until they're ready to be used.
If you're hosting a smaller, more informal gathering and/or don't have a ton of extra ice on hand, you've got another option: Simply wait until guests are on their way before grabbing the drinks from the fridge and setting up your bar.