Drinking is an interesting exercise with dozens of little nuances and social norms that regular drinkers just seem to know. No one knows how they know, they just do. One of those social nuances that few people seem to know for sure is whether or not drinking before noon should be frowned upon.
To some, all drinking should be frowned upon, regardless of the time of day. It’s too bad since that leads to dehydration. But for those who imbibe from time to time, is it really a big deal to have a cocktail or a beer before noon? That really depends on your circumstances.
Did the Blue Laws Kill All of the Happy Times?
When this country was first settled back in the 1600s it was populated mainly by devout Christian people who were fleeing their homes in Europe in search of religious freedom. By the time the country was officially formed in the late 1700s, the Puritans were exercising great influence in society and politics. Under their influence, blue laws were born.
Just in case your were thinking this, no, blue laws have nothing to do with Labatts or the three-man group that dresses in bodysuits and performs wild acrobatic moves while maintaining a vow of silence. Blue laws were various state and local regulations that prevented various types of activity during certain hours and on certain days. For example, blue laws prevented bars from opening before late afternoon.
Though blue laws never prevented individuals from drinking in the morning, temperance put an end to pre-noon boozing at the turn of 20th century. Prior to that, it was common for soldiers to have a shot when they first awoke, for farmers to drink hard cider all day, and for middle-class couples to start the day with a concoction of fresh-squeezed orange juice and whiskey.
Why Would You Want to Drink Before Noon?
Getting back to the original question, let’s look at some of the reasons you might want to drink before noon. The first that comes to mind is an impending visit from your mother-in-law.
Provided her broom (by which we really mean plane) is slated to touch down somewhere around 4-ish, noon is as good a time as any to get started drinking. If it’s Christmas and she’s bringing cash gifts, better to wait until the grand festivities have concluded. No need to risk getting coal in your stocking.
A second reason to begin imbibing before mid-day is the occasion of the Super Bowl. Nowadays, TV coverage begins so obnoxiously early in the morning that they run out of things to say before daybreak. If you’re going to be up that early you might just as well get the party started.
One last reason for starting before noon has to do with financial losses incurred via the stock market, the race track, or your best friend’s new car, which you were unfortunate enough to christen with various bodily fluids on the way home the previous night. But we won’t go there.
What Time Do Classy People Start Drinking?
In the old days, folks would take down a cocktail or two first thing in the morning to “clear the head and settle the stomach.” Perhaps some of that had to do with the poor state of drinking water prior to indoor plumbing and chlorination.
These days if you’re not feeling so well when you wake up, it’s better to take some Alka-Seltzer or Milk of Magnesia and call it a morning. If you’re really classy, you’ll save that cocktail at least until one in the afternoon.
Obvious exceptions are holidays with all-day implications (e.g., July 4, Memorial Day, Labor Day), using alcohol as a treatment for a hangover, or being a person whose bohemian lifestyle prevents you from coming to grips with the fact that there is such a thing as time of day. Note: Tried and true Goths sometimes fit into that last category.
What If I’m Not Classy?
If you have no class and are willing to throw caution to the wind, here are a couple of “safe” drinks you can have before noon. No one need be the wiser.
The granddaddy of them all is the tried-and-true Screwdriver. This is a drink that combines vodka and orange juice with a little swizzle stick and some ice. Just tell your friends that it’s genuine, pulp-free Florida orange juice. If they ask for a sip, let them; vodka is flavorless.
If you’re into tomato juice, the Bloody Mary also works well. When you start feeling a little loose you can always slap yourself on the forehead and exclaim, “Wow, I could’ve had a V-8!” Just be careful not to set your glass down and leave it unattended. Kids love V-8.
Lastly, our culture’s modern love affair with cold coffee and lattes has opened the door wide open for Kahlua on ice. Just make sure it’s served in a coffee mug or a plain drinking glass so no one get suspicious. For a little extra effect you might want to save a cup from one of your trips to Starbucks. It adds quite a bit of realism.
All kidding aside, it’s true that our social norms frown upon consuming alcohol prior to noon. That’s probably a good thing. Most of us have jobs, families, and other things that take precedent over partying. It’s probably best we keep it that way.