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A Bloody Mary is arguably the king of drinks enjoyed before lunchtime. Photo by Misunderstood Whiskey
A Bloody Mary is arguably the king of drinks enjoyed before lunchtime. Photo by Misunderstood Whiskey
Cheers! North County Columns Food & Wine

Too early? A list of moments to imbibe before lunch

“How early is too early?” I think as I stare into the abyss of the fridge. I’m reaching for some overnight oatmeal, but I see all the ingredients for a crushed strawberry mimosa. “What is that over there? Is that Bloody Mary mix?”

Today isn’t just a random Monday, but Memorial Day. The holiday exists as a day of mourning for the military members who’ve been lost during service. The day is often celebrated with parades, picnics, BBQs, and for many, a few beers or cocktails.

“Should I or shouldn’t I?” I wonder and begin mentally compiling a list* of days, locations, or experiences that Americans have deemed it socially acceptable to imbibe before lunch.**

Wedding Day:This is fairly limited to those participating in the wedding. Bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers, and parents are all members of the safe to socially toast club. The bride and groom themselves can certainly have a drink to steady the nerves, but they’d be well-served, not be too well-served!

Golf course:There are three types of golfers on the course: 1. Serious golfers. 2. People who want to drink socially and have chosen the golf course. 3. Serious drinking golfers. Tee off might be 7:15 AM, but you can be sure the Bloody Marys will be pouring at 7:00 AM. The beverage cart will be waiting at hole three and again at the turn on nine. Between 13 and 14, you can run across the street for a can of beer from the course-side pub. Cash only. No one will question your dedication to the game or question why you’ve had more than a few before most people have finished watching The Price is Right.

Tailgating:No matter where you are in the country, football games start early. Not only is it socially acceptable to drink before the games, but attending the tailgate is a form of community building. The same goes for spring training baseball or car racing. Some sporting events get special treatment. During the Kentucky Derby, it is not only acceptable to drink a Mint Julep with breakfast, but you can do it while wearing a ridiculous hat.

Too early? A Mimosa is another popular drink on the brunch menu. Photo by Ecaterina Tanase
Too early? A Mimosa is another popular drink on the brunch menu. Photo by Ecaterina Tanase

Some Holidays:Your summer holidays — Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day — are all okay. The rest of the year — Easter, Halloween, Christmas — not so much. Collectively we’ve decided that an early morning cocktail to celebrate veterans, workers, and independence is okay. Outside the summer months, our holidays are often day-long events that lead to evening drinking. The exception to the summer rule is New Year’s Day, but as you’ll see further up the list, this is for reasons other than its holiday status.

Brunch:If the other days on the list aren’t enough for you, there is brunch. Brunch is any gathering over food and drinks on the weekend that starts after traditional breakfast but before the traditional noon lunch hour. It used to just be a Sunday Funday tradition, but now Saturdays are fair game, and if it says “Brunch” on the menu on a Thursday or Friday, that is okay too.

Honorable Mention

Hunting and Fishing excursions: If you’re willing to get up before dawn, hike out into the wilderness in the cold, and wait for hours on end for the opportunity to shoot at an animal or get out on the water before the mists have burned away to wait until the bobber moves, you are more than within the realms of social acceptance to take a nip from the flask in your hip pocket.

SEMI-RETIRED

1st Class on an Airplane: OnceI flew first class early in the morning. About halfway through the flight, the attendants announced that the plane was out of vodka, but we could substitute gin or rum into the 1st Class Bloody Marys. With the pandemic causing undue stress on flight crews (often by passengers), many airlines cut out the booze. There are rumors that some airlines will once again become that friendly cocktail bar in the sky, but until then, we’ll have to be satisfied with our memory of pre-gaming that vacation trip 25,000 feet over the sea below.

Drinking in the morning might not seem like the most responsible activity, but there is a sense of daring-do about it that is exciting. Taking a sip of champagne with breakfast feels fancy and criminal at the same time giving us the same spike of adrenaline we experienced as children eating ice cream for breakfast if we had a sore throat or getting to stay up late to watch TV.

As for me, I close the door with nothing more than my breakfast. If the sun was out, or I was heading to one of those BBQs, or my wife was home to join me, I may have cracked the cork on the champagne.

*Vacation isn’t included on this list because there are way too many scenarios to cover, but if my time timing the cracking of a can of lager with the church bells in Rome is any indicator, mornings are fair game on most vacations.

**”Lunch” means your lunchtime. If you work the late shift, your lunch might be during the time I’m lost in dreams of never-ending mojito fountains and IPAs fresh off the line.

Check back next week for my favorite morning cocktails, including recipes! Stream the Roast! West Coast coffee podcast on the Coast News Podcast page, and be sure to follow and share your drinking adventures with Cheers! North County on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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