By Rachel Simons
Photos by Rachel Simons.
Waking up at noon and going to your favorite brunch spot with friends is always great, but what if you could make it into an event? What about one that didn’t just include eating, but dressing up, taking pictures, and turning the whole afternoon into an amazing outing with friends? These are the goals of the organization Geek Girl Brunch, with a nerd twist.
The way it works is that every month a theme is picked and emails are sent out to the club’s mailing list with an invitation and description of the brunch. Themes in the past have included magical girls, DC, Marvel, video games, and table-top games. Usually, members meet at the restaurant in the invitation and hang out there, but because the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s Sakura Matsuri (cherry blossom viewing) Festival was taking place, it was decided they would have a Lolita fashion themed outing and then get food and drinks at Butter and Scotch afterward.
The food in the gardens was abhorrently expensive ($18 for a chicken teriyaki bento box), but I managed to get a pretty decent chicken sausage with sauteed onions and peppers for $7 and a large cup of sake for eight. Thankfully, our trip to Butter and Scotch afterward was better.
Butter and Scotch is a dessert bar specializing in pastries, shareable treats, and boozy confections. They not only managed to squeeze 11 girls in the back without much fuss, but had delicious sweets that we all loved. I got a cup of their dark and stormy caramel popcorn, which had the spiciness of its namesake while also being chewy, buttery, and all around addicting. I almost wanted to get an entire bag to go.
Besides that, I ordered a slice of their bourbon ginger peach pecan pie with whipped cream on top. As a compliment to the popcorn, it was perfect. The ginger was front and center, while the brown sugar and pecan created a nice mellowing balance. I probably could have also tasted the peach and the bourbon if I concentrated more, but the time it took for the entire slice to get from the plate to my stomach was a record breaking two or three minutes. It might honestly be one of the best slices of pie I’ve ever had and as a lover of sweets that is definitely saying something.
As well as getting individual cocktails, we all decided to get a round of Butter and Scotch’s gourmet Blood and Sand Jell-O shots. Most of the time I am skeptical of any mixture of gelatin and booze, but at a jaw-dropping price of only $2 each, these were well worth the cost. Made with blood orange juice, scotch, sweet vermouth, and creme de cassis, the shots had a citrusy bite while not being too boozy. To make the experience even more authentic, they were set in the rinds to make them look like little blood orange wedges.
From their cocktail selection, I choose the HoneyChile Rider with gin, passion fruit, Mike’s Hot Honey, lemon, and Bittermen’s Tiki Bitters. Passion fruit can sometimes be lost in a cocktail with lots of ingredients, but I tasted the tropical tang of the fruit the moment I took a sip. Mixed with the subtle kick from the honey, the result was a refreshing drink that cut through the sugariness of the desserts while also being semi-sweet and tasty.
The festival itself was packed with hundreds of people both in regular clothes and a variety of cosplay. Because this was technically a garden party, the dress code for the brunchettes required different variations of Lolita fashion: doll-like shoes, ruffled skirts, and tons of lace and feminine accessories.
We started off the day by watching a couple of performances on the main stage. Japanese Taiko drumming as well as some traditional dances helped celebrate the start of spring. The drummers used choreographed movements to help create their music and keep time while the dancers looked beautiful in their flowing kimonos and stark makeup.
As the crowd grew larger and it became harder to see the performances from our picnic blankets, we decided to get up and walk toward the area where all the festival booths were located. The shops were made up of an eclectic mixture of food stores, Japanese clothing places, accessory vendors, and artist tables. A couple of the girls and I got matching bracelets with charms that were sculpted to look like French macaroons and then proceeded to take more than a hundred pictures as we spent an hour in a flower patch doing a Lolita fashion shoot and hanging out.
After the brunch bonding, we ended the festival by watching the Brooklyn Botanical Garden Parasol Society’s fashion show and walking to the cherry blossom area to look at the flowers. The mass of people everywhere was a little bit overwhelming, but the scenery and costumes were wonderful and I genuinely got along with everyone.
The awesome thing about Geek Girl Brunch is that it’s not just about the food and drinks, but bringing together individuals with similar interests and making connections through an afternoon-long excursion. Even though it was my first outing and I went alone, I didn’t feel awkward or excluded from the group like I feared I would. In fact, I even made new friends and promised to meet up for other events.
Because the theme switches every month, every girl might not be interested in each brunch, nor will she be able to afford it. Yet, as a treat once in a while, Geek Girl Brunch is definitely something to get excited about and look forward to.