Spicy like Sunday Morning

Article excerpt

NEW BRUNCH COCKTAILS BRING A MUCH-NEEDED JOLT TO THE SENSES.

Brunch, booze, the gays- a longstanding tradition. But while we've always supported hair-of-the-dog decadence, waking up with the same old mimosa every Sunday is a bit like waking up next to the same old trick. Fortunately, mixologists and bartenders have gotten as bored as we have. The result? Anew breed of spicy brunch cocktails.

The day-after drink of the moment is the Michelada, a TexMex fave and the guy-next-door of the bunch. It starts out like a Bloody Mary (lime, pepper, Tabasco, Worcestershire, soy sauce, salted rim), but beer replaces the vodka and tomato juice. Erin Lindsey, bar manager at the lesbian-owned Hotel San Jose in Austin, Texas, says it's best served with Mexican beer (though none of the other ingrethents are authentically Mexican).

At Red O in Los Angeles, chef Rick Bayless's first foray outside Chicago, the brunch beverage of choice is the Alacrán, a sassedup margarita of medium-aged reposado tequila, orange liqueur, VeeVaçai spirit, limonada (lime juice with simple syrup), and chili-mint syrup brought to you by the restaurant's resident drinkslinger, Steven Calabro. The glass arrives dipped in Tajin, a seasoning made of dried chiles, salt, and dehydrated lime juice.

Richard Sandoval's Zengo restaurants (in Denver, New York City, Santa Monica, and Washington, D.C .) fuse East Asian and south-of-the-border flavors, as does their signature brunch cocktail: a margarita with tamarind paste and Japanese seven-spice togarashi powder. If you like tequila but dumped the salted-back-of-the-hand-and-lime-wedge routine after that misbegotten spring-break fling, this is the one to try (plus, the togarashi is perfect for dipping cucumber crudités) . …