In defence of the pre-noon drink

Have you ever been guilty before drinking before midday? What about on a weekday? Most of those who have done this deed get derided instantly as alcoholics. Ellen argues that this shouldn't be the case, that drunks shouldn't have all the fun, and that drinking should be an acceptable thing to do at all hours.

Is drinking before noon really that terrible? “No, certainly not”, gruffs the frighteningly hairy bartender, his voice gargled and phlegmy as if his throat cavity has been leased to a family of small, presumably slimy, amphibians. “In fact,” he adds “some of my favorite regulars come in before lunch.” And what are your regulars like, I ask? “Well,” he splutters “they aren’t what you would expect of people who come to the pub on a weekday morning, I’ll tell you that much.”

I nod fervently and thank him for his time. After shaking the leathery assortment of sausage fingers clasped around my hand, I turn to leave, wondering why I gave a strange, sasquatch-like bartender a nod of agreement in response to a statement I couldn’t quite comprehend.

What do I expect of people who go to the pub on a weekday morning? Precisely nothing. What right have I to expect the liquescent gaze of a boozed-up pub patron to focus not on the dewy schooner nursed safely inside his palm, but on my sobered expectations? No sooner than I arrive at this point, I realise that I have never frequented a pub before the hour of twelve. As a shamelessly zealous supporter of the consumption of alcohol, I find this latter realisation compelling.

I can and will and most certainly do drink regularly. I accept boozy lunch invites on a whim, coerce my friends into enduring tequila-fueled rambunctions and revel at the chance to exploit bar tabs that I didn’t pay for. But offer me a swig of Belvedere with my morning porridge and I will recoil in horror.

I want to position this squeamishness towards vodka-soaked porridge and the many other potentialities of liquored breakfasts as a simple case of gustatory offence, but I just can’t. Consider: the sweet fluffiness of a syrupy pancake stack paired with the creaminess of a Brandy Alexander; a buttery, honey-soaked crumpet and champagne; French toast and a Peach Bellini; poached eggs, bacon and a Bloody Mary; the possibilities are tantalisingly endless.

Why must I deprive myself of such luxuries, I ask you? My mornings are spent circumventing the wine and spirits collection in my kitchen because it’s a custom: an indisputable assumption that if I drink before noon I must surely possess a disposition akin to that of the infamous A-word.

This is an interesting position to take when properly considered, as it implies two things: that a breakfast beverage is consumed for effect and not flavor and, precisely because of this, that I am one with Sausage Finger’s morning regulars. The latter half of this assumption – that I drink to get drunk (because that’s what morning regulars do, contrary to the defensiveness of the bartender’s feeble assertions) – is not entirely untrue. Give me a bottle of wine, a pair of stilettos and a Saturday night and I’ll show you ‘drunk’ at its finest. Note the addition of word night here. “Give me a bottle of wine, a pair of stilettos and a Saturday morning and I’ll show you ‘drunk’ at it’s finest” paints a very different picture.

The absurdity of this logic demands that it’s entirely acceptable to drink yourself into mental infancy; to misplace your solemnity and moral worth in the bottom of that gin and tonic (or perhaps in the one - or seven - prior) at a time when the sun has gone down. We can foreshadow our Saturday nights with phrases like “I’m only going to have a few tonight” or “I rarely drink, but when I do its purely for the taste”, but what are these declarations but steaming piles of pious bullshit?

“I’m really looking forward to emptying my bladder in the gutter tonight” or “I find that the taste of Coopers Ale really complements the subtle hints of dribble I taste when I have a random stranger’s tongue halfway down my throat” seem to me to be far more honest statements to describe one’s Saturday night with. (It is interesting to note that it is here where morning regulars present to the world a kind of warped amiability, the kind that surely impelled the hairy bartender to rush to their defense: at the very least they aren’t feigning restraint and self-control).

But to drink in the morning isn’t to write oneself off or to forget the various pains and frustrations of existing in the world. It is to further enjoy the privilege of culinary consumption: to complement the already delectable flavors of the dawning of day.

I’ll ask you again: is drinking before noon really that terrible?

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