Everyone seems to have their own hard and fast rule about when it’s okay to start drinking and when it’s not. One answer is 5pm (I know my father won’t shake up his first Manhattan until “Cocktail-” or “Happy Hour“, which in many places is considered to be the start of the drinking day). Another, more liberal, approach suggests noon – which, of course, allows for the businessman’s “Three Martini Lunch“* and the consumption of “Champaign Brunches“.

But why are we so strident about this particular rule? My father acts like the world will come crashing down around him if he has something to drink before 5pm. Of course I support everyone having their own boundaries (I for one will never go sky diving, and you know, it makes me feel better to know that that line exists), but time is such an arbitrary thing to begin with, and what do numbers on a clock face have to do with propriety? Alcoholics Anonymous asks if you ever need an “eye opener” – a drink to get you going or  stop the shakes – in their 12 question survey (anyone on here who worries that say, having 2 Manhattans with dinner makes them an alcoholic, should take the aforementioned survey and be comforted that the kind of drinking AA talks about and the kind of drinking we talk about on this blog are two totally different things), but they don’t say anything about having a beer with lunch. The big problem, as I see it, is two-fold: 1) Drinking can impair your ability to function in a work-appropriate manner, and 2) even if you’ve handled yourself swimmingly through the buzz, the hangover in the afternoon can be even more devastating to your To Do list.

Fine. These are perfectly reasonable qualms. But let’s not be stupid here. If you’re planning on throwing back a couple of Margaritas before breakfast, we’ll hope its a day when you don’t have anything else on the agenda**, and as for hangovers, a glass or two of water combined with the food that’s accompanying these cocktails at lunch will take care of this completely. So as you can see, there’s no reason not to order that fabulous looking cocktail off the lunch menu, or even to hit the bar mid-morning, if that’s what you’re craving. In fact, there’s a whole trend called “Day Clubbing”, where, as far as I can tell***, you show up for brunch in the outfit you wore out last night, having slept for about 3 hours in someone else’s bathroom, wait interminably for service from snooty, French-born waiters, and then try to suck down your $35 eggs before they turn all the lights off, turn up the techno, and start bringing out $400 bottles of Grey Goose and Champaign with lit firecrackers stuffed in the tops. At 11am. – Dont’ get me wrong, it was definitely an experience I’m glad to have, though I can’t say this really falls into the category of drinking experiences I would recommend to others.

So, for those of us NOT planning on making a day of it, but still in the mood to tipple on the sunny side of things and wondering what one orders, here are my suggestions: The old standards are still around for a reason, so it will be hard to go wrong with a Mimosa, a Bloody Mary, or a Screw Driver at breakfast, in addition to pretty much anything Champaign based (try a Bellini – it’s just Prosecco [Italian champagne, since France has made it illegal for anything to be sold as “Champaign” unless it comes from the Champaign region], peach nectar, and maybe a splash of peach schnapps – if it’s served frozen, don’t get it, cause they’re doing something wrong.). At lunch, I love a Margarita – they’re bright and fruity, and go well with food. And of course, a nice, cold, wheat beer, or a glass of fruit forward white wine (read Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Grigio, Muscato), are light enough that they shouldn’t make you too sleepy. But really, Day Drinking is about owning your urges and understanding that just because Miss Manners might not agree, it doesn’t make you an alcoholic. So order whatever you feel like! And toast to the delicious decadence of being just a little naughty in the middle of the day.

The recipe du jour is a twist on the classic Screw Driver that I’m calling a Sunday Drive:

A Sunday Drive
1 Grapefruit vodka (like Absolut)
2 Orange Juice
serve over ice in a highball glass


*Holy cow, I looked this up thinking it was a TWO martini lunch, because 5 shots of liquor in the middle of the day is quite a bit, but apparently I still have a thing of Three to learn about Day Drinking…

**Yeah, I’ve totally done this.

***Yes, I’ve done this too, though it wasn’t my idea. I just came along for a Sunday morning birthday party, which turned into a fascinating Sex In The City sort of experience complete with tales of waking up in the bathtub, startlingly frank sex talk with strangers, and two gay boys named “Brad” who arrived together in matchy J Crew ensembles. Not to mention an astronomical bill.