Your Morning Cocktail

Paul Blow

I biked home the other morning from the farmers’ market carefully transporting a $10 carton of freshly laid farm eggs. It was a lot to pay, I know, but they were so perfectly large, such a lovely sandy brown color, and I was so … thirsty. Indeed, my splurge was in the service of the perfect morning cocktail, not an omelet. I was already imagining the 11 a.m. Ramos Gin Fizz I would greet my wife with.

Whether it’s the recession, the lazy summer mornings, or my advancing age, I’m not sure, but breakfast cocktails have been making a resurgence in my weekend routine. For most people the breakfast cocktail begins with the Mimosa and ends with the Bloody Mary, with very little in between. But there’s actually a great, wide world of morning drinks out there. As David Wondrich writes in Imbibe!, “much of the cocktail’s development was intimately connected to the search for a better hangover cure. In an age before aspirin, Advil or morphine … this quest was not an unreasonable one.” Hence, terms like eye opener and drinks with names like the Corpse Reviver 2 (made with gin, Lillet, lemon, Cointreau, and pastis—a fabulous, strong cocktail).

The secret to a good breakfast drink is that its flavors have to be as bright as the daylight you’re getting up to. A dusky glass of whiskey or a shot of tequila doesn’t make the cut—that just seems sad. There should be sharp flavors and strong spirits. It should involve some amount of labor and preparation—after all, the activity of making the drink is a good waking-up exercise on its own.

One of my favorite morning drinks is the Morning Glory Fizz. It has strength—whiskey and absinthe—and brightness from lemon juice. And it has an egg white for lightness, creaminess, and that unmistakable ethereal morning feeling. And the fresher the eggs, the fluffier the foam: This drink makes a lovely reward for an early, beat-the-crowds visit to the farmers’ market.

Morning Glory Fizz

1 1/2 ounces Scotch whisky (preferably a blend like Dewar’s, not a single malt)
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup
1/4 ounce absinthe or pastis
1 egg white

Place all ingredients in a mixing glass. Fill with ice and shake for a healthy 20 to 30 seconds to get a good foam from the egg. Strain into a highball glass and fill with 2 ounces of chilled seltzer.

Jordan Mackay is a San Francisco–based wine and spirits specialist whose work has appeared in publications such as Gourmet, the Los Angeles Times, Food & Wine, and Decanter. Follow him on Twitter. Follow CHOW too, and become a fan on Facebook.