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Image / Editorial

The Perils Of Bottomless Brunching


By Kerry Buckley Barnes
30th Nov 2017
The Perils Of Bottomless Brunching

It’s more than ten years since Sex and The City ended. Over its six seasons it taught us everything we needed to know about female friendships, relationships and ……..ok, fine, it mainly taught us about the unmentionables they didn’t teach at a convent school in Ireland. My point is everyone took something different from SATC. We all labelled our friends the Samantha, Charlotte or Miranda of the group while always self- identifying as the Carrie. I didn’t fall in love with the romantic leads, nor did I aspire for Carrie’s shoe collection. I just desperately wanted to go to brunch. There was something about Samantha clinking the top of her glass for a refill of champagne that was the epitome of cool for 16 year old me and I wanted in on the action.

The general feeling that life is not complete without a Mimosa for breakfast did not go away. My mum wasn’t keen on me introducing the idea at home – Champagne was for graduations and weddings, and certainly didn’t go with scrambled eggs. I finally found myself moving to New York at 22 and making a beeline for Il Bastardo, a trendy spot that had featured in MTV “reality” show The City. Since first appearing on my radar, it seemed brunch had morphed into something completely different and even cooler – the AYCD brunch. The eye-wateringly beautiful hostess kindly translated for me: “All you can drink, duh”. I couldn’t believe my luck, order any brunch item ranging from scrambled eggs with smoked salmon to a BLT and drink as much as you want – no wait – as much as you can. It almost seemed too good to be true.

I spent the following year boozy brunching all over New York, downing Mimosas, Bellinis, Screwdrivers, even Sangria as I went. My mum would be appalled, I thought, but I’m sure quietly impressed with such a great deal. There were brunches that kicked off in early afternoon, the blinds pulled down and disco lights turned up, DJs played and the champagne arrived with sparklers sticking out the top. People danced on the tables, there were drag queens and karaoke, I even went to one where there was a lip sync battle. Brunch was chaos and seemed a million miles from the Dublin I had left behind.

Two years later, I was back in London with a mild case of liver failure, when I discovered my favourite pasttime had travelled across the Atlantic and touched down in Bunga Bunga in Battersea. They coined the term bottomless brunch – as in you would never see the bottom of your glass. Venue after venue followed suit, coming up with their own inventive themes to get you through the door: singles brunch, musical bingo brunch, cabaret brunch, there’s even a pirate brunch. I tried them all. Most recently, I’ve heard about a burger joint hosting “Frunch” on a Friday afternoon. It’s a spot where city workers can drink unlimited frozen margaritas with their lunch (okay, fine, I have been but am very conscious lest my colleagues read this).

Having sampled the fizz at more spots than I care to remember, it is my duty to warn you that while boozy brunch is wonderful for those who manage it responsibly, it is disastrous in the hands of the thirsty or thrifty. You’ll find yourself grabbing the microphone rapping Eminem at karaoke or with a bristly beard painted on your face (the pirate brunch, of course), and there is always the token puker in the corner that’s had a little too much fun. Come 5pm, those friendly faces that were constantly topping up your glass turf you out the door so they can ready themselves for their more respectable evening customers. And as your eyes adjust to the harsh light of day and normal people shuffle past with their grocery shopping, Drunk You will very quickly realise it was in fact not a good plan to arrange to meet your boyfriend’s mum for the first time after brunch, nor should you have planned to go to an Ai Weiwei exhibition, and you definitely shouldn’t plan to go shopping without risking spending a fortune on ridiculous items that you simply MUST change into before you leave the shop.

Actually, cancel any post-brunch plans- glasses of bubbles escalate things FAST. As a general rule of thumb, you can expect your day to be absolutely nothing like Samantha Jones’s and go somewhat like this: brunch with the girls turns into an unsavoury mix of sugary cocktails at 5pm, followed by a tequila bar and a night out dancing and usually ends in MacDonald’s at 3am where suddenly a cheeseburger looks like it would make an extremely comfy pillow where you could rest your face.