In the October issue of Saveur —in between the exploration of muesli, Francine Prose's essay on eggs, and the other features woven together as part of the magazine's special breakfast issue—is a look at a now rare but once ubiquitous creature: the morning eye-opener.
Many people may consider Bloody Marys and mimosas de rigeur for weekend brunches, but the world of breakfast cocktails is much bigger than most may think. As David Wondrich points out, many nineteenth-century cocktails were designed to be consumed well before the sun was over the yardarm, and were utilized to help the drinker brace up during the morning after a long night.
Perhaps nowhere else in the U.S. does the morning drink retain its mojo more than New Orleans, the city that has contributed several of the most legendary and desirable fog-cutters to ever grace a breakfast menu. Wondrich cites the Ramos Gin Fizz as one of his favorites, and indeed, morning has seldom looked better to me than after a long draught of floral foam while sitting at a restaurant on Canal Street. Wondrich also lists more medicinal concoctions such as the Death in the Afternoon, a mixture of champagne and absinthe that Ernest Hemingway considered an important part of a balanced breakfast (he even contributed a recipe for the drink to a 1930s novelty cocktail guide); and the Prairie Oyster, a hangover remedy that lists a raw egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce and brandy among its ingredients.
Are you in the habit of knocking together something to accompany breakfast or brunch on weekends (or weekdays—I won't tell if you don't)? And do you stick with the classic Bloody Mary, or do you have a favorite you like to bring out (or have brought out to you) to sip before your omelette?
About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.