Did the Washingtons Brunch?

Brunch—the linguistic and culinary combination of breakfast and lunch—was popularized in the United States during the 1930s. While the Washingtons didn't enjoy the brunch we know and love today, they frequently enjoyed brunch staples for breakfast and served them to Mount Vernon's ample visitors.


Sweet and Savory

George Washington's favorite breakfast was hoecakes with butter and honey. One visitor in 1793 wrote he received a "very substantial Repast"; "Indian hoe cake with Butter & Honey seemed the principal Component Parts." 

Additional records indicate Mrs. Washington's breakfast menus included ham, cold corned beef, cold fowl, red herring, and cold mutton (all garnished with parsley and other vegetables from the garden). Eggs were also sometimes used as side dishes, such as eggs with asparagus.

Breakfast Beverages

While champagne and cocktails round out modern brunch menus, there are no known references to alcohol served with breakfast. Alcoholic beverages were definitely served with dinner, which was served at 2pm on Sundays and 3pm the rest of the week.

The Washingtons served tea and coffee at breakfast, as well as a chocolate beverage made with grated chocolate mixed with heated water or milk, sugar and sometimes with brandy or wine.

The Dining Room

The Washingtons had breakfast in the Dining Room, located on the first floor off the central passage. Guests generally had breakfast with the family or could eat in their rooms if they were not feeling well. Many guests described gathering in the Front Parlor and reading newspapers before moving into the dining room for breakfast at 7am. If the guests arrived later in the morning and had not eaten, they would be served in the Little Parlor.

Hungry for brunch? Visit the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant!

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