The History of Drinking in the Morning

Anish Patel @ 2022-03-21 05:50:43 -0700

The History of Drinking in the Morning

These days, drinking in the morning is generally frowned upon — unless, of course, you’re at brunch. In that case, you should be enjoying some bottomless mimosas or sipping on a well-garnished Bloody Mary. However, drinking in the AM on weekdays is generally considered socially unacceptable, not to mention bad for productivity.

Did you know that this wasn’t always the norm?

That’s right: alcohol used to be a perfectly acceptable way to start a day’s work. Here’s why.

The Origins of Day-Drinking

Historically, people have enjoyed alcohol in the morning, around noon, and at night all over the world. During the Middle Ages, it was actually safer to drink alcohol than water — H20 was often contaminated with harmful bacteria. So, it was common to spike water with beer or spirits to make it safer to sip.

Drinking Beer in the Morning

In the early days of day-drinking, beer was the beverage of choice. It’s cheaper to make often includes a plethora of different ingredients. Wine, on the other hand, depends on a finicky crop produced only once a year. Thus, it was reserved for nobility, while beer was brewed to be sustenance for the people. Oftentimes, beer was all there was for breakfast. 

Things have certainly changed since the days of AM booze. Water is perfectly safe to drink, and wine is affordable. And the general consensus is that water is for the morning and wine is for dinner.

However, there are still some traditions of drinking in the morning that carried into the modern world. Some of them are downright mouth-watering. Let’s look at the “who’s who” of morning drinking throughout history and around the world. 

The Who’s Who of Sunrise Sippers

Historically, people typically drank in the morning for religious purposes. We can thank the monks of the Middle Ages for wine and beer. These holy men kept vines alive all across Europe; after all, they needed wine for mass! In addition, they also took their beer very seriously. 

Belgian Monks

Yes, the monks were tipping it back, but they weren’t exactly doing keg stands.

In the 1600s, Belgian monks would fast during lent. During this time, they weren’t allowed to consume solid food, so they made “liquid bread,” a dark, carbohydrate-rich beer. The monks drank it throughout Lent to sustain themselves. 

The monks eventually started selling their nutrient-dense brew, naming it “Salvator,” which means “Holy Father Beer.” Eventually, this brewing style became what we know today as doppelbock, a heavy, rich beer with a touch of sweetness. The beer tastes a bit like bread, toast, caramel, and chocolate.  

Although it's not brewed exactly the same way it was in 17th-century Belgium, you will get a taste of history when you drink doppelbock with your Sunday eggs. 

If you’re unsure about whether man can live on beer alone, here’s the proof. In 2011, a Christian journalist brewed a specially-made doppelbock and successfully sustained himself on only beer throughout Lent. Not only that, he reported that he had a transformative experience that taught him self-discipline. 

Belgian Farmers

Saison, a sour, funky farmhouse ale that you can get in breweries today, was also born out of a need for breakfast.

Farmers first made Saison in Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium. During harvest, farmers would hire seasonal workers to help around the farm. To give their workers something to keep them full while they worked through the hot afternoons, they brewed Saison. 

Traditionally, Saisons are brewed to a lower alcohol percentage, making it the perfect farm-hand thirst-quencher. The recipes varied from farmhouse to farmhouse because farmers typically brewed the beer from whatever they had on hand. Some grew their own barley, and others used less expensive ingredients like spelts, oats, or buckwheat. 

The resulting brew has developed a cult following. Enthusiasts love how the flavor profile can still vary widely. Some of these beers are maltier, while others are dry and hoppy. All of these brews tend to be light and highly carbonated with earthy, spicy flavors. 

This unique flavor profile comes from a bacteria called Brettanomyces, which is famous for imparting a “barnyard” character on both beer and wine. You’ll know it when you smell it!

“Early Houses” of Dublin

Speaking of beer in the morning, the Irish might take the cake for this tradition.

Brewers opened early houses to serve breakfast to fishermen and dockworkers in the 1920s, and they received official recognition in 1927. Many of the early pubs of Dublin are still operating today, although no new ones have opened since the 1960s. 

While other restaurants have to wait until 10:30 am to open, “early houses” are licensed to open at 7 AM, serving beer and (sometimes) an Irish breakfast to accompany. When these houses first started popping up, there was nothing strange about dropping by the pub at 7 am on the way to work. It was a place to gather your strength for the day, drink a few pints and maybe have a cigarette or two. 

Today, the early houses of Dublin are as bustling as ever. Today, they're also frequented by night shift workers like nurses, police, and casino employees who need somewhere to decompress after a long shift. 

In 2008, the Irish government considered abolishing these pubs. They wanted to correct public misconduct that they linked to excessive drinking. After receiving pushback, they scrapped the plan to ban breakfast-boozing, allowing anyone passing through Dublin to find themselves a Guinness and perhaps a loaded plate of eggs, bread, sausages, and black pudding in the wee hours. 

Bavaria’s Frühschoppen (sp)

For Bavarians, beer for breakfast is part of the culture — and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s so commonplace that there’s even a word for it: frühschoppen. Frühschoppen is a breakfast of wheat beer, pretzels, white sausages, pickles, and mustard. It doesn’t get much more German than that, does it?

Frühschoppen has become a common brunch menu item across Germany and Austria, and it’s typically served with Hefeweizen. In Bavaria, Hefeweizen is referred to as “bottled bread,” not unlike the Belgian monks and their eyebrow-raising fast. 

Even President Obama broke bottled bread with the Bavarians on his 2015 trip to the region. However, the breakfast they prepared for him was accompanied by a non-alcoholic beer, probably because Americans wouldn’t take too kindly to their president getting drunk on the job. 

Even US Workers Have dabbled in The Morning Buzz. 

In the 1820s, Americans caught wind of an English tradition called “elevenses.” Elevenses is a mid-morning snack, something to hold you over until lunch, like tea and biscuits.

At the time, the US was experiencing a massive corn surplus. Farmers decided to distill the corn into a cheap whiskey, and it became common practice for Americans to have this drink as a mid-morning pick-me-up. Some employers even supplied their workers with the stuff!

However, things changed with the industrial revolution. It soon became apparent that drunk workers in the factory were a liability. Eventually, the sentiment that booze was destroying the nuclear family took over, and workplaces started laying down new rules about drinking on the job. 

That’s probably for the better, don’t you think? 

When Can You Day-Drink?

Brunch, music festivals, holidays, and sporting events are all common occasions for morning drinking. However, these more appropriate places are all about enjoying and being a consumer, and none of them are related to the workplace. 

In the U.S, Sunday brunch is a tradition that preserves morning drinking and makes it socially acceptable for a few hours once a week. Around the 1930s, brunch became a real hit, and eventually, a few drinks came to dominate the scene. 

The classic, simple mimosa is perhaps the perfect brunch cocktail. The bubbles stimulate the appetite, and the orange juice gives off that classic breakfast vibe. The mimosa was invented in 1925 in Paris and popularized by Alfred Hitchcock. 

And of course, another brunch must-have is the Bloody Mary. Bloody Marys are savory, heavily garnished, and revitalizing. They make the perfect morning drinks pair perfectly with a heavy breakfast or brunch. The Bloody Mary was invented in the 1920s by a French bartender who made it spontaneously. It was initially nicknamed the “bucket of blood.”  

So, when you sit down for brunch, remember that you’re partaking in a tradition that is celebrated around the world — and don’t forget to schedule in a few hours for a midday snooze later. 

Want to try an alternative to a mimosa for your next brunch? Get our Spritz Sampler, a sample pack of our all-natural Spanish wine cocktails–Tinto de Verano and Rebujito. 


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