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A few years back, a friend gave me the book, Drinking with the Saints – The Sinner’s Guide to a Holy Happy Hour written by Michael P. Foley. This friend knew that I enjoyed the Catholic method of drinking and that I have loved the Lives of the Saints, so he bought this book for me as a gift and knew that I would appreciate it and use it.
In the book, Michael Foley lays out humorous antidotes and creative directions on how to consume the correct beverages that correspond with different liturgical seasons, feasts, solemnities, and saint’s days during the Church’s yearly calendar. There are more than 300 recipes, a manual on beer, spirits, and wine, and even tips on how to give a proper toast.
Over the years, I have tried some of the cocktails in this book, but for the month of December during the seasons of Advent and Christmas, I am going to have five of the drinks in this book and share them will you here on this website as well as on my personal website/blog. If this article is well received, I will continue using this theme and book for some of my future contributions.
Before I get to the drinks to make this month, I want to briefly explain what I mentioned before: the art of Catholic drinking, or the method of drinking like a Catholic. Essentially, it means drinking with moderation, a balanced way of enjoying one’s time with friends, sometimes even in the state of mourning, but appreciating God’s gifts given to us through creation and experienced through our senses of taste and smell. To understand this concept in a more complete way, I would highly encourage you to read the 2012 article in Crisis Magazine by Sean P. Daily titled, The Lost Art of Catholic Drinking (the original article was published in 2009).
The five drinks that I have selected are listed below with the corresponding saints’s day and one of the Sundays in Advent. I have given you the name of the drink as well as the recipe as it is stated in the book in case you would like to make it as well. As I stated above, as I make and taste these drinks, I will post pictures and write a short description/review of the drinks. You can read my reviews on my personal website/blog.
December 6 — Saint Nicholas
Bishop’s Wine (Eight to Ten Servings)
2 bottles of claret (or Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot)
2 oranges, quartered and studded with cloves
1 lemon, quartered and studded with cloves
15-20 cloves (studding the oranges and lemon)
2 cinnamon sticks
2-4 tbsp. sugar
Pour the wine into a large saucepan. Add the studded fruit and cinnamon sticks and heat slowly for fifteen minutes (do not allow to boil, as this will make the alcohol evaporate). Add the sugar and heat for a minute or two, until dissolved. Strain out the fruit and spices and serve hot.
December 7 — Saint Ambrose
1 oz. bourbon
1 oz. light rum
½ oz. orange juice
1 lemon twist
Pour all ingredients except lemon twist into shaker filled with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with lemon.
December 10 — Saint Melchiades
Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday)
1 ½ oz. Plymouth Gin, chilled
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 lemon twist
Take a chilled cocktail glass., add the bitters, and coat the interior of the glass with the bitters by swirling it around. Add gin and garnish with lemon twist.
You can dazzle your friends with your knowledge by asking them if they “want it in or out” – that is, if they want the remaining bitters tossed out after it has coated the glass or left in.
December 27 — Saint John the Evangelist
¾ oz. gin
¾ oz. rye or bourbon
1 oz. brandy
Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass or shaker filled with ice and stir until very cold. Strain into a cocktail glass.
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Tom PernaTom Perna is the soon-to-be Director of Mission and Hospitality in Dining Services at the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND. In this position, he will enhance and develop Catholic culture within the dining experience. He starts in January 2021. Since 2012, Tom has been writing on this website â€“ TomPerna.org. When he is not working or writing, he enjoys spending time with his wife and young son.