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Two Pitchers Brewing Company's "Radler" is a lager mixed with grapefruit and blood orange. Photo courtesy of Two Pitchers
Two Pitchers Brewing Company's take on a traditional radler is a lager mixed with grapefruit and blood orange. Photo courtesy of Two Pitchers Brewing
ColumnsFood & WineI Like Beer

What to drink in the morning

You’ve decided to enjoy some socially acceptable morning cocktails, but you’re not sure what to drink. Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. And I have recipes, too!

Wedding Day: Champagne might be the stereotype, but drink a radler (aka shandy) instead. It is going to be a long day, and you don’t want to be the bride or groomsman the guests remember for all the wrong reasons.

The traditional radler is beer mixed 50/50 with a lemonade-style beverage and reached peak popularity during the early 1900s. The drink has seen a renaissance in recent years as more craft breweries put their spin on this classic beer.

The light, sweet taste combined with a lower than normal percentage of alcohol makes it the perfect drink on the morning of the wedding. It will keep you refreshed, add a bit of old-world charm to the festivities and save you from the kind of champagne-inspired intoxication that makes people famous on Tik-Tok.

Rouleur Brewing has made excellent seasonal radlers. If you see it on the draft list, be sure to order it. Two Pitchers Brewing in the Bay area exclusively offers radler-inspired beers in cans year-round. I’m partial to the Grapefruit Blood Orange Radler.

Golf course: Early morning tee times call for a Bloody Mary bar. The Bloody Mary is perfect for the golf course because it is breakfast with a kick. It fills up the stomach without weighing you down and leaves you with a mid-round snack.

Bloody Mary is the classic morning cocktail. Photo by Toni Osmundson
Bloody Mary is the classic morning cocktail. Photo by Toni Osmundson

There are some great pre-mixed bloody mixes making preparation easy. I keep cans of Zing Zang in the home bar when I don’t feel like mixing all the spices into the tomato juice myself.

What makes the Bloody special is what goes in it. At a minimum, garnish with a celery stick and a toothpick of stuffed olives. Take it up a notch with a season and celery salt-spiced rim, a hunk of cheddar, a beef stick or crispy bacon (optional for veggie-friendly lifestyles), and a lemon and lime wedge.

Take it to the next level with a shrimp tail, grilled asparagus stick, and a splash (or two) of Sriracha sauce.

The Cheers! North County Bloody Mary


– 2 oz Locals Only vodka (Oceanside)

– 4 to 6 oz Bloody Mary mix (Tomato juice, Worcestershire Sauce, onion salt, celery salt, garlic salt, black pepper, paprika, a squeeze of lime, a splash of hot sauce)

  1. Rub your lime wedge along the rim of the glass and rim with a blend of season and celery salt. Fill with ice.
  2. Add vodka and Bloody mix to a shaker with ice. Give it a light shake and strain it into the glass.
  3. Let the garnishing begin. If you add a slice of pizza, you’ve gone too far.

Tailgating: The grills are going. The sun is out and it gets hot on the blacktop. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but you need a hard seltzer. We’re doing this.

An Iced Mexican Coffee with whipped cream and caramel. Photo by Kari Shea
An iced Mexican Coffee cocktail with whipped cream (See recipe below). Photo by Kari Shea

Some Holidays: More than two billion cups of coffee are drunk every single day. There is a good chance whoever you’re celebrating the holidays with is looking for a caffeine fix in the morning. Offer them a Mexican Coffee cocktail.

Add an ounce of Kahlua and a half-ounce of tequila — I like Solento Reposado — to a mug of dark roast craft coffee from your favorite local coffee roaster. Then top with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon. Ascend Coffee Roasters in North County focuses on creating classic dark roast coffees.

Want to keep it simple? Crack open the First Light Coffee Whiskey. Pour two fingers into your favorite mug, and top with coffee.

Mexican Coffee Cocktail

  • 1oz tequila
  • 1oz Kahlua
  • 6oz coffee

Garnish: Whipped cream and cinnamon

  1. Add tequila and Kahlua into a mug.
  2. Pour in hot coffee.* Stir.
  3. Top with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon.

This also works as an iced coffee. I recommend a flash-chilled coffee. Add the booze to a tall glass with ice. Then brew a hot cup of coffee, and chill it by quickly pouring it into the glass. Garnish, and serve with a metal straw.

Brunch: Mimosa, right? Brunch only exists as an excuse to feel fancy. Champagne and a splash of orange juice for the traditionalist, and every flavor of the rainbow for the rest of us.

If you’re hosting a salon of the greatest minds in your social circle, add a shot of peach schnapps and substitute a pink sparkling wine to get people talking. Don’t forget to garnish with a fresh slice of California-grown orange.

Honorable Mention: Hunting and Fishing excursions: Bring a flask and share a nip of whiskey to fight off the early morning chill. Follow it up with a light beer six-pack to share with the hunting party.

SEMI-RETIRED: 1st Class on an Airplane: Don’t do it. Give those overworked stewards a break. Avoid the line at the generic, mass-market coffee shop. Snag a cup of coffee from Stone Brewing in Terminal 2. They open early. Get on the plane. Adjust your noise-canceling headphones. Read a book and just be cool.

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.