Ten in the morning; you couldn't go out last night because you had to get up for some awful brunch you'd forgotten you promised to go to. The blowhard on your right side is going on at length about the Mercedes-Benz he's going to order that afternoon; the woman on your left has one of those adenoidal whines that could cut glass.
The agony level is high and rising, but you can't leave. What can you do?
Drink, of course. The problem is that ordering a shot of Chivas and asking them to leave the bottle will get eyebrows raised. Drinking before lunchtime requires some finesse. You can, with the right orders, get to that point where there's a dull roaring in your ears (drowning out the boring people) but you're not quite to the point of proving the old adage in vino veritas.
Read on, then: here are five things you can drink before noon (besides the obvious mimosas and Bloody Marys) without Aunt Edna getting bent out of shape.
Just make sure someone else is driving home.
Bellini: Smoothies are breakfast, right? Well, a Bellini is a smoothie. That it contains champagne instead of fruit juice doesn't matter in the slightest. Fruit purée and champagne goes down pretty easily; be careful standing up after a few of these, especially if you haven't had anything else to eat. White peach is traditional, incidentally, but any fruit that can be puréed without turning brown can be used; strawberry is very, very common and açaí Bellinis have even been spotted.
White sangría: The brunch-worthy cousin of the fruity sweet wine found in bad Spanish restaurants everywhere, this is white wine fortified with brandy and filled with light-colored fruits such as grapes and lemons. Most places that serve it serve it in pitchers, but if you're so desperate to get a buzz on that you're going to attempt it with wine, a pitcher is probably what you're going to need.
Caffè corretto: Drinking this before noon in Italy would raise some eyebrows, because it's typically considered a digestif to be taken after big meals at lunch or dinner, but this is America. We drink cappuccino at five p.m., so there's no reason we can't have espresso with a healthy shot of Sambuca or grappa at ten a.m.
Cocoa with Bailey's: You can thank Nestlé and their Irish cream-flavored non-dairy creamer (made of oil and cornstarch, yum!) for the fact that nobody is going to bat an eyelash if you order your morning hot chocolate with a shot of Bailey's Irish Cream. The flavor is so pervasive and the old stereotype of the Irish thankfully so dated that people seem surprised to know that actual Irish cream is alcoholic.
Ramos Gin Fizz: So you want a real drink in the morning, none of this pussyfooting around with half-cupfuls of 12% ABV wine and thimblesful of liquor? You want to look like a trend-setter who isn't content to drink a tomatoey vodka thing in a glass containing a salad?
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Then the Ramos gin fizz is for you. Not very well-known outside New Orleans, where it was invented, the Ramos gin fizz is a concoction of gin, lime juice, lemon juice, cream, orange flower water, simple syrup, soda water and egg white shaken to a frothy consistency. The various ingredients blunt the edge of the gin, and it looks like an ice cream soda or a frothy horchata.
You may have to teach your bartender how to make it, but you will get more than your share of "WHAT is THAT?" from astonished brunch patrons. Thank you, New Orleans!