Jet-Set Bohemian: Bar Brunches

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Jet-Set Bohemian: Bar Brunches

A jet-set lifestyle doesn’t have to be all private planes and decadent digs. In our Jet-Set Bohemian series, we blend the best of high and low for just the right balance … enticing everyone from backpackers to luxury boutique hotel lovers to come along for the ride.

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When I was visiting Miami

last November, it seemed as if our typical after-hours stomping grounds were off-limits. The only spot my friends deemed worthy of a nightcap was one of the newer bars on South Beach, Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company, with another one of our favorites, John Lermayer of Regent Cocktail Club, behind the bar program. Tucked on a side street near the Bass Museum, Sweet Liberty is easy to walk past with its nondescript windows and dark interior. And that’s exactly part of the appeal. Open from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m., the bar serves as both the perfect happy hour starting point, as well as nightcap stop off.

At night, the focal point is the wood-lined bar with its sky-high rows of liquor bottles sitting against black-and-white palm tree wallpaper and brass shakers the shape of owls. Red leather diner-style booths line the walls with a hot pink neon sign hanging in the back, forming the words “Pursue Happiness.” During the day, everything looks slightly different. Maybe it’s the lack of alcohol or the lack of darkness, as light floods through the windows changing the scene entirely. You can actually make out the plants draping down the sides of the wall and pin-up girl-style oil paintings hanging near the door.

Strolling in for the recently rolled out Sunday brunch last week felt like I was entering an entirely new bar, except with the same standout cocktails like chamomile margaritas and passionfruit cinnamon bellinis. As for food, plates sound simple enough with options like farm fresh omelets, until you throw in elements like homemade pita bread with chorizo butter and smoked duck served over your usual eggs benedict.

Sweet Liberty Smoked Duck Benny courtesy of Sweet Liberty.JPG Photo courtesy of Sweet Liberty

Sweet Liberty’s is just one spot proving that brunch is no longer reserved for restaurants and cafes. Bars are incorporating this boozy Sunday tradition, opening up shop early for a menu of morning cocktails perfectly paired with locally inspired breakfast fare.

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Over at the

Freehand, a revamped 1930s Art Deco hotel in Miami Beach, Sundays were best spent poolside at the hostel, taking breakfast in liquid form with garden herb-infused cocktails from the award winning Broken Shaker bar. That is, until 27 restaurant moved in to the historic house just across the courtyard with Bar Lab curating the cocktail menu, mirroring Broken Shaker’s Florida-inspired libations. It’s no surprise the main draw is the drinks, with Café Bustelo-infused Bacardi cocktails; Campari orange juice; and cold brew blended from local Panther Coffee, Amaro Averna and Allspice reduction, topped with hazelnut whipped cream. Even better? These can all be ordered pitcher-style for the table.

Dishes also incorporate global flavors and garden produce, with twists on classic brunch fare like Appleton Rum banana fosters pancakes, local beer battered fish sandwiches, carne asada tamales with house hot sauce, and pan de bono, a cassava flour cheese bread paired with guava butter. The cocktails don’t have to stop flowing once the food does, either. Take the party up a flight to the bar or head back to the hostel next door for a dip in the pool.

27 Restaurant (credit Justin Namon).jpg Photo by Justin Namon

In my other home town of Nice, meanwhile, the port neighborhood has gone through quite the facelift over the past few years. Boarded up former warehouses and factories now house haute burger bars and loft-like concept shops. The gay friendly rue Bonaparte has taken notes from sister city Paris and become Nice’s own petit Marais. Buzzy bars and cafes spill out onto the streetside terraces, where it’s hard to snag tables even in wintertime.

Comptoir Central Electrique moved onto the strip three years ago, settling into an airy former light bulb shop. With its exposed brick walls and lightbulbs draping dangerously low from the ceiling, the bar was exactly what the city needed: a neighborhood joint that served cocktails just as inviting as the atmosphere. When Comptoir Central Electrique launched its lavish Sunday brunch, all bets were off.

One of the first in town to embrace this weekend ritual, the bar took its gourmet evening light bites and gave them a breakfast spin, with buffet spreads stretching wall-to-wall, serving basics like yogurt, muesli and eggs, in addition to a very French selection of charcuterie, cheese and bread of all varieties, from baguette to classic croissant. And it wouldn’t be a true brunch without the booze, so the spot did what it does best—crafted cocktails just for the occasion, serving up Prosecco-heavy mimosas.

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Finding a bar

with good late-night fare is tricky enough, but finding one that not only serves until 3:30 a.m. but also opens up at 10 the next morning for Saturday and Sunday brunch is even more impressive. Take a seat at one of the two bars at The Penrose, a watering hole on New York City’s Upper East Side with exposed brick walls that looks equal parts vintage hunting lodge and upscale British pub—although they claim to be more inspired by old American and Cork traditions.

Start brunch with one of four Bloody Mary varieties, which include bases like chili-infused vodka, bacon-infused bourbon and Narragansett Lager, or take your morning juice with a splash of something boozy like Applejack or gin. Coffee can also be served spiked, in the form of the Wake Up Mr. West! Cocktail, a blend of cold brew, Amaro Montenegro and Diplomatico Anejo rum. When you’re ready to move on to the meal, any of the Americana-inspired plates will pair well with your drinks. Go for sweet and savory fried chicken and waffles with brown butter maple syrup or for something with a bit more kick, like the spiced beef hash or breakfast burrito, served with chorizo, guacamole, salsa verde and egg—handpicked for the bar at The Brey Family’s farm in Upstate New York by Bill and Nancy Brey themselves.

Lane Nieset is Paste’s Jet-Set Bohemian columnist and a freelance writer covering all things travel from her home base in Nice, France.

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