Waking up is hard to do. Cold floors, frosted panes, and winter’s pre-dawn dark (but it’s already 7 a.m.!) don’t make the hop out of bed any easier. Days like these, just waiting for the coffee to start dripping can feel like a scene out of Jack London. But if that coffee comes with an extra, warming kick — hey, even Shackleton stocked his holds with booze — the wait might just be worth it. That’s right, we’re talking liquor for breakfast. No low-brow hangover helpers, though; these bourbon-infused delights will elevate your morning meal (if not the thermometer) and, we hope, help you up and at ’em as well. A better breakfast beckons. Man up, untuck the covers, and tuck in.
100% Pure Vermont Maple Syrup // The Syrup Shop // Burlington, VT
From the towering maples of third-generation Underhill Farms, nestled in the verdant shadow of Vermont’s Mount Mansfield, springs this heavenly elixir, glittering as gold and, we dare say, just as precious. Still, that doesn’t stop us from drizzling with abandon over oatmeal or grits, mixing into morning chai, slurping transmogrific thimblefuls straight from the bottle — if pressed — or, if we can labor longer over our morning meal, twisting it into a warming, winter’s dressing, like a hot toddy for your flapjacks: a slow saute of apple slices in butter, cinnamon, and a shot or two of bourbon, turned resplendent with a glug of syrup as they start to caramelize.
Hazelnut Pancake Mix // Freddy Guy Hazelnut Farm // Monmouth, OR
This mom-and-pop Willamette Valley farm, in the heart of hazelnut country, does the hard part for you, trundling tree-shaking harvesters and vacuum-on-wheels sweepers through 160 acres of some 20,000 trees, gathering hundreds of pounds of hazeln — er, filberts, in the local argot, and grinding them into everything from granola to pizza dough to this, our pancake-Sunday staple. All you do is add an egg and wait for the skillet to heat. A flip or two later and what you get is light and fluffy as a classic flapjack, with an undercurrent of earthy spice, the perfect balance to a hefty pour of syrup, and an extra pat of butter to brace against the morning’s chill.
Spicy Borsellino // La Quercia // Norwalk, IA
The name’s Italian, but the accent’s humbly middle-west: The majestic oak (or quercia) is Iowa’s state tree, and from little ol’ Norwalk come the masters of American-made, Italian-style salumi. Heritage hams (Durocs and Berkshires, humanely raised), cut with care, aged with patience, and even spiced and salted with Yankee flair — the sea salt is from U.S. shores. Fried eggs in need of a kick? Add a slice or two of this oily link, aged two months with pimenton and chiles for a bloom of soothing smoke and feisty kick of chorizo-like spice.
Bourbon Blueberry Jam // Jam Stand // Brooklyn, NY
Two gal pals, one humble, hard-working apartment stove, and a crate-load of mason jars turned to this: Brooklyn’s best and booziest jam-maker. Savory salt might warm the bones — a fried egg sandwich, say, on rich country toast — but something sweet will raise the spirits. Top your morning bun with a spoon or two of Jam Stand’s blueberry, the perfect blend of spritzy sweet fruit, mellow vanilla, and the spicy splinter kick of — you guessed it — bourbon.
Bacon Spread // Skillet Street Food // Seattle, WA
Bring home the best of Seattle chef Josh Henderson’s Airstream lunch cart. This scrumptious spread produced epic sandwiches, blocks-long lines, and turned a little truck into an empire — now it’ll revolutionize your mid-morning snack. Spreadable bacon? Goes with anything, naturally. But our favorite use is as the smoky-sweet bedrock to a smashed avocado on toast. Just make sure to pop the jar in the microwave for a few seconds before assembly, to make for easier spreading.
Hazelnut Whiskey Cookies // Whimsy & Spice // Brooklyn, NY
A husband and wife team — he a pastry chef, she a designer — so you know their treats will look as good as they taste. And vice versa. This little bit of edible art sandwiches Scotch whisky-infused Madagascar chocolate between two crunchy, hazelnut- and chocolate-chip-studded cookies. It’s not bourbon, and it’s not (necessarily) breakfast, but we couldn’t resist. On their own or dunked in a cup of coffee (Irish or otherwise), if the rest of this breakfast box won’t get you out of bed in the morning, a cookie sure as hell will.