Cocktail Hay's Place

We’ve heard the stories. We’ve seen tell-tale black-and-white images. Darrin Stephens and Larry Tate downing cocktails with clients, columnists finishing their stories in a favorite drinking hole, Hunter S. Thompson, the fabled three-martini lunch—it was a mad, mad, Mad Men world.

On the other hand, there’s the temperance movement, Prohibition, dry counties and such. Modern day executives generally frown upon their marketing team staggering back from lunch. 

Simply put, Americans have a long and complicated relationship with alcohol, and with day drinking in particular.

Yet if there’s a stigma against day drinking these days, you couldn’t tell from popular culture. T-shirts celebrate the act. It’s a regular feature on Late Night with Seth Meyers. And as the country group Little Big Town warbled, “I know you know what I’m thinking / Why don’t we do a little day drinking?”

“Anywhere that’s open for lunch has established that day drinking works,” observes Jaric Persons, manager at Duffy’s Tavern in Monterey. Indeed, a survey by American Addiction Centers’ of those who consume alcohol revealed that 29 percent of men and 19 percent of women hammer down some booze during daylight hours every day.

“There are no qualms about it,” says Tim Wood, owner of Woody’s at the Airport. “People will order an 11am scotch.”

Before we go further, we must note that some stern people in suits rather firmly suggest we point out that leaving the office for a few hours of bar hopping is not recommended. That said, the concept is changing. Light floods into Woody’s bar, which is often packed with locals on afternoons. Wood observes that many of his patrons stop in for a couple of drinks and return to work, reminiscent of the martini-fueled lunch of yore.

The fine dining chef and restaurateur admits that in his younger days he hoped to start a bar. “But late night—I don’t need one of those,” he adds.

If film and television are to be believed, day drinking was once the purview of the idle gentry, Vegas touts and—most often—denizens of boozy haunts. It’s a gesture against the polite world to order a couple in a shadowy den then step back into the sunlight, squinting and trying to regain your form. As Thrillist’s Ben Robinson noted, “you can watch The Sobers pick up their dry cleaning and go to the hardware store to replace their standard light bulbs with LED” knowing that you’ve broken the routine.

Robinson is an advocate of patios, beer gardens and venues with ample views for a little afternoon delight. In his “How to Day Drink: The Definitive Guide,” he points out that such setting allow you to observe the workaday world from without, separated for an hour or three from its realities. 

Of course, old school dives and neighborhood joints, like Duffy’s, Alfredo’s Cantina, Brophy’s Taverns and others are fixtures. But a new generation of day drinkers are more likely to seek out a patio or well-appointed space. Bright, upscale establishments with something to offer beyond a stiff drink beckon. Schooners in the Monterey Plaza Hotel opens to a view of the bay. Hay’s Place in Pebble Beach lets the outside in on favorable days. Alvarado Street Brewery in Monterey has a beer garden out back and big screens inside. Folktale Winery in Carmel Valley is a Weekly readers’ favorite—quite a bit more sophisticated than a dreary lounge. 

Which suggests that day drinking is no longer about soaking up suds. claims that champagne, vodka and tequila have joined beer as the drinks of choice. 

“The more options, the better,” Persons agrees.

If day drinking has emerged into the light, it may be because people have learned to appreciate certain guidelines—and there are sets of published rules. According to Robinson, the most important requirement is to avoid shots. Sam Slaughter, author of “The Ultimate Guide to Day Drinking in The Manual agrees.

“If you go too hard too fast, you’re going to be passed out by noon, giving your friends ample time to give you some new Sharpie tattoos”—not a good look when you trip, bleary-eyed, back into the office.

Their point is there are constraints, which hasn’t always been the case. The first day drinkers were pretty much everyone, since water often carried bacteria. Even the Puritans valued a strong beverage. In a sermon, Increase Mather, the puritanical minister who approved of the Salem Witch Trials, defined alcohol as “a good creature of God.”

Medieval monasteries across Europe distilled spirits and brewed beer—liquid bread. While drinking may not have been considered a holy act, German monks named their most potent style Salvator, which means “savior.” It is said the daily ration of ale provided to some monks in Belgium amounted to a gallon.

“One of the things we understand now is that the initial ship that came over from England to Massachusetts Bay actually carried more beer than water,” National Archives senior curator Bruce Bustard told the BBC.

However, while alcohol was accepted, people frowned upon public drunkenness. And this is where day drinking fell off the wagon.

Historians have noted a dramatic increase in consumption. Americans downed about 5.8 gallons of pure alcohol a year in 1790. By 1830, that amount shot to 7.1, according to Bustard—as did instances of domestic violence and indolence. Meanwhile, the health risks associated with water began to wane.

Ultimately, the temperance movement and then the 18th Amendment sent day drinking scurrying underground.

Perhaps some stigma remains. “Some people like to be around others, some like to be left alone,” Persons says of those who imbibe on a workday. “I like to go someplace quiet.”

Yet it appears that day drinking—within the rules and in a welcoming setting—has regained some of its appeal. So in answer to the Burning Question, it’s no longer necessary to excuse that first sip with “it’s five o’clock somewhere.” Now you can just join Pitbull’s chorus: “We can make our own vay-cay.” 

(1) comment

Martin Cohen

Amazing discussion without acknowledging the ‘rabbit hole’ of alcoholism and the inherent dishonesty of returning to work lit.

When you are in the day drinking mode, look to your left snd look to your right and you will always see yourself. Misery love company and that’s where you’ll find it.

Good luck with your delusions, especially for the author of this trash piece of garbage that fosters self indulgence., self delusion and self deprecation. Your employer deserves better, your family deserves better and you deserve better. Cheers to your downward spiral🥂🥂🥂

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