Tot of the morn­ing

Jonathan Ray es­pouses the re­viv­i­fy­ing virtues of the mid-morn­ing drink, par­tic­u­larly be­tween Holy Ghost and Sun­day roast – but don’t tell the vicar

The Field - - WINE -

I don’t know about you but I drink far too much. need­less to say, it’s an oc­cu­pa­tional haz­ard in my line of work. I do my best to give up booze in Jan­uary – just for form’s sake – but other than that I drink pretty much ev­ery day and I am, by most stan­dards, an out-and-out lush. My only so­lace is that I know for a fact that my GP drinks more than I do.

The trou­ble is that temp­ta­tion is ever present. I’m cur­rently re­search­ing and writ­ing a book on cham­pagne and sparkling wines and I jest not when I tell you there are more than 100 bot­tles of fizz crowd­ing round my an­kles on ev­ery avail­able bit of floor space in my study. And there are some crack­ers there, too. Some Krug Grande Cu­vée any­one? or 2006 Tait­tinger Comtes de Cham­pagne? or how about some of our very own Ridgeview Blanc de noirs or a cheeky Bisol Prosecco?

When work­ing at home I never broach a bot­tle un­til – as my younger son used to de­light in point­ing out when he was a nip­per – the big hand points to the 12 and the lit­tle hand points to the seven. “Stand by your beds, it’s daddy’s drinks time,” he’d yell.

“And Mummy’s, too!” was the in­evitable ri­poste from Mrs Ray who was in­vari­ably one G&T down by this stage. And she thinks I never no­ticed, poor sap.

But, yep, 7pm is my start time as a rule and it takes all my dis­ci­pline not to start ear­lier. That said, I’m a bit more re­laxed about things come the week­end or the hol­i­days. You know, around elevenses. You can stop your tut-tut­ting at the back, thank you, un­less you can hon­estly say that you’ve never cracked open a chilled bot­tle of rosé by a Provençal pool be­fore mid­day or had a pre-pran­dial Aperol spritz in the shadow of the Rialto Bridge. Yeah, see what I mean? You’re not so judge­men­tal now, are you?

Some­times, for what­ever rea­son, one just needs a bit of a mid-morn­ing fil­lip that only a de­cent shot of al­co­hol can pro­vide; some­thing for that awk­ward hour when your thoughts turn from re­call­ing fondly what you had for break­fast to dream­ing hope­fully about what you might have for lunch.

The clas­sic mid-morn­ing drink, of course, is the Bloody Mary, about which I’ve writ­ten fondly many times in these pages and the joys of which are ex­tolled in a de­light­ful new book en­ti­tled, erm, The Bloody Mary by Brian Bar­tels (£15, Jac­qui Small). It’s a cork­ing good read and tells you every­thing you need to know about this ex­quis­ite, God­given drink, from its con­tested ori­gins to its name; from the equip­ment you need to make it, to more than 50 dif­fer­ent recipes.

When I make a BM I add a dash of fresh or­ange juice and a splash of sherry to the mix, both of which work won­ders. Such ad­di­tions seem tame com­pared to some of Mr Bar­tels’s. His Bar­be­cue Bloody Mary uses beef drip­ping, for ex­am­ple, and his East Indies Bloody Mary uses cumin, arak and In­done­sian spice paste. oh, and there’s one that uses not only vodka but also aged tequila and mescal. Cripes. But the Bloody Mary isn’t the only ideal mid-morn­ing drink. The Black Vel­vet has to be up there, too. In­vented by the bar­man at Brooks’s Club in St James’s Street for mem­bers mourn­ing Prince Al­bert, it’s sim­ply Guin­ness and cham­pagne, half and half. It’s an out­ra­geous mix­ture and has no busi­ness work­ing at all but is ridicu­lously de­li­cious and per­fect along­side an 11am plate of oys­ters.

Talk­ing of Lon­don clubs, there’s the clas­sic Buck’s Fizz, of course, in­vented in Buck’s Club and com­pris­ing two parts cham­pagne to one part fresh or­ange juice. Swap the cham­pagne for prosecco and you get a Mi­mosa. Both are per­fect mid-morn­ing fare: fresh, fruity, light in al­co­hol and crammed with vi­ta­mins. ditto the Bellini (prosecco and fresh peach juice) or Jo Jo (prosecco and fresh straw­berry juice). And if you can’t be both­ered to make said juices your­self, in­vest in some packs of Funkin Fruit Purées, they re­ally are the real thing and ut­terly de­li­cious.

A mid-morn­ing drink shouldn’t be too al­co­holic; it’s there to lead you gently into the rest of the day rather than ren­der you blotto. But a small glass of Madeira or tawny port never goes amiss. Chill them ever so slightly and serve them in small glasses along­side a plate of plain bis­cuits or a slice of fruit cake. The drinks’ sweet­ness makes them ac­ces­si­ble and com­fort­ing.

But then a bone-dry Man­zanilla or Fino sherry is also a won­der­ful 11am tonic. Serve well-chilled straight from the fridge for an in­vig­o­rat­ing ap­petite-in­ducer.

And, of course, as you take a ru­mi­na­tive sip of what­ever drink it is, the point is it gives you time to plan what you’re go­ing to drink dur­ing the rest of the day.

The Bloody Mary isn’t the only mid-morn­ing drink. The Black Vel­vet has to be up there, too

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