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Morning Drinking

I found myself one Saturday morning on my knees in front of a wooden gate with a paintbrush in my left hand and a cold tumbler of Nicaraguan rum and Diet Coke in my right. By nine o’clock, the temperature had climbed into the high 80s already, and I was thinking that maybe, just maybe, with a little “help” the gate might actually revolve around the brush.

No such luck. But at least the chore was made more bearable.

For most people, morning drinking implies a visit to a coffee bar. French roast or Blue Mountain. Lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas. But it wasn’t always that way. There was a time when gentlemen used to drink brandy before breakfast or take a slug of rock and rye while shaving. Still others sipped a little Medford Rum, a robust and molasses flavored spirit, while dressing. It helped them tie their ascots, no doubt.

Men on Wall Street during the Gilded Age often slipped away before lunch for a Manhattan, a sour, or a milk punch. Midmorning was the first well-established masculine cocktail hour. It firmed one’s moral fiber.

Let’s face it, morning drinking today has a stigma attached to it unless, of course, it’s done on the weekend and called brunch. Or, when facing a daunting morning chore like painting a gate.

Morning drinking, however, is perfectly acceptable in certain cities. Las Vegas promotes it to lure you to the gaming tables. In New Orleans, well, it seems to be just a reflection of how everyone was raised. Drive-thru daiquiri bars open at 8:00 a.m. Local package and convenience stores offer “Six Packs for the Road.” Who can resist a soothing Voodoo Mojo at 9:30 in the morning?

In Palm Springs, there’s an older gay crowd that likes to drink during the day because they don’t like to drive at night. And, being Palm Springs, there are an awful lot of these old boys. At The Street Bar Named Desire, which opens at ten, one covey of jigglers have discovered that if they park in the lot behind the bar, they can sneak in through the back door at 9:45 and claim not only the best seats but also first service. No tedious delay in ordering their morning wake-me-ups!

No doubt you are wondering where are the best places in Rehoboth to find a drink in the morning. Under the guise of research, I went exploring one Saturday, where by law an establishment can provide alcohol starting at 9:00 a.m. On Sunday you have to wait until noon.

I learned that The Crystal, on Rehoboth Avenue just outside the city limits, would serve you a cocktail at nine o’clock on the dot and not one minute before. Be forewarned, though, that people sitting nearby may “tsk tsk” when your waiter shows up with a big Bloody Mary alongside your omelet and scrapple. It’s that kind of place. If this bothers you, slip on over into the back bar, which is more conducive for a morning drink. Plus, you can arrive and depart mostly unnoticed via a separate door.

The Robin Hood on the first block of Rehoboth Avenue is another breakfast joint that starts serving cocktails at nine o’clock. Believe it or not, the Robin Hood actually encourages morning drinking with a big ol’ sign in the front window advertising a $4.95 Bloody Mary. If you go, I suggest you grab a booth in the back and keep your sunglasses on. Though it’s family-oriented, the owners know that even daddy needs a drink now and then.

Grotto’s Beach Bar right on the Boardwalk opens at ten, and on the morning I visited there were already two gentlemen in Penn State tank tops nursing big beers. While this bar has a certain charm in the afternoon, in my opinion, it’s just way too bright in the morning. The people walking by tend to stare.

The Purple Parrot, on the other hand, is dark and cool and nobody stares. It’s my choice for the best morning bar in Rehoboth. And when the fans and the disco music are going, a breakfast margarita suddenly seems very a propos.

To my surprise, Obie’s, the Frogg Pond, and Rigby’s weren’t open early enough for the purposes of this research. John and John, the owners of Rigby’s, however, have expressed some interest in holding a morning happy hour. Let ‘em know if you like that idea.

Down in Dewey, there’s no need for a morning happy hour to draw the crowds. By 9:00, packs of hung-over guys and girls in baseball caps and sunglasses are staggering like zombies toward the Starboard, the Mecca of the morning drink. By 9:05 there’s already a line at the Bloody Mary bar. At the back bar, I count a half dozen unshaven bros hunkered down already over beers and Orange Crushes. One collective mentality in flip-flops pursuing the morning buzz.

All in all, this little excursion into the world of morning drinking was pretty lame. I’d expected so much more from a town that, according to some alarmists, is rampant with loud lewd behavior and teetering on the edge of the abyss. Frankly, there’s more drinking and lascivious language going on in the family rental house next door than in any bar downtown.


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