The History of Booze for Breakfast: 7 Morning Drinks

breakfast dopplebock
breakfast dopplebock
Wikipedia Commons/Arturo Petrocelli

Most of us reach for some variation of cereal, coffee or eggs to get us out of bed in the morning. Only at brunch do we treat ourselves to a bloody Mary. Through history, though, there have been monks, soldiers and even children who drank booze at breakfast just to get by, just to survive. It's up to us to commemorate their sacrifice. Whether bolstering yourself against the cold or respecting cultural tradition, here are a few drinks (and their histories) that are socially acceptable, even sensitive, to work into your morning routine. Remember: You are not a drunk. You are honoring history.

Piwo pijacy mnisi
Piwo pijacy mnisi
Wikipedia Commons/Arturo Petrocelli


The origins of beer at breakfast can be traced back to as early as 1634, at the Paulaner monastic brewery in Munich. Friars brewed this strong, hoppy, high-carb lager, their "liquid bread," in order to survive the impossible 46-day Lenten fast. You can get a taste of the Salvator Dopplebock (the word salvator means "savior") in its modern form, but you can't count it as breakfast, since technically, you know, it doesn't break fasts.

El Pajarete

The pajarete is a deliciously stomach-churning concoction, a mix of instant coffee, sugar, cocoa, tequila and, of course, raw cow milk right from the udder. This humble and possibly nauseating cocktail, which farmers in Mexico scrapped together to kickstart their bleary mornings, has made its way into the various ranchos of California. Here's a video from a disturbing POV perspective. Good luck ordering it at a bar.


"Put a coin in a cup. Pour on coffee till you can no longer see the coin. Pour on alcohol till you can see the coin again." These were the instructions used by the residents in the Norwegian Bohuslän district as early as 1795 to make one of the most popular drinks of the time. Russian moonshine is traditionally used because of the small amount of aftertaste, but it's also drunk with vodka. The name comes from the Old Norse adjective karskr, meaning healthy, vigorous or agile, the three things most of us won't be if we follow the recipe literally.


The drink with arguably the best name on the list, Gunfire is a mixture of rum and tea concocted by British Army soldiers in the 1890s. Officers would serve it up to men in lower ranks the morning before an attack as a form of liquid courage -- or perhaps a parting gift. While tea is great and all, Spanish troops took the drink to another level by creating the carajillo, coffee with rum or whisky, during Spain's occupation of Cuba in the late 1800s. Not to be outdone in the martial coffee cocktail category, Aussies and Kiwis drink rum and coffee during Anzac Day as part of their "gunfire breakfast."


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