Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: Habemus potum—we have a new drink!
You needn’t be a saint to have a cocktail made in your honor. In the world of mixology, you can order an Arnold Palmer, a Shirley Temple, a Mary Pickford, and a Rose Kennedy (see here). Oh, and Bloody Marys are named after Queen Mary I of Tudor.
It is in this spirit that Drinking With the Saints proudly announces a new cocktail marking Pope Francis’ visit to the United States this week:
Taste of Mercy
1½ oz. bourbon
½ oz. Monin pomegranate syrup
¼ oz. Fernet-Branca
Pour into a mixing glass with ice and stir until very cold or pour into a shaker filled with ice and shake forty times (a good biblical number). Strain into a cocktail glass.
Named after a theme dear to this pontificate, the Taste of Mercy offers an intriguing flavor profile as well as a historic précis. Bourbon is America’s greatest contribution to the spirits world, thanks in part to Catholic pioneers like Basil Hayden Sr., whose image still graces every bottle of Old Grand-Dad. And pomegranate is a Christian symbol of self-giving, as the fruit opens itself up to allow its seeds to scatter. (“Self-giving” as opposed to “navel-gazing” is also how Pope Francis has defined Christian life.) And we will assume that in accordance with the pope’s admonitions, the pomegranates were harvested by fairly treated migrant workers and without undue impact on the environment.
But the showstopper is Fernet-Branca. This notoriously bitter beverage from Italy is immensely popular in Argentina, since half of all Argentines, including the pope, are of Italian descent. Its punch-in-the-face finish is appropriately evocative of Francis’ unminced words about airport bishops, weathervane Christians, and weapons manufacturers. (For a little fun, finish a round with your friends and then take turns reading aloud “The Pope Francis Little Book of Insults.”)
Incidentally, this is not the first time that a papal event has inspired the creation of a special beverage. When John Paul II visited St. Louis, Missouri in 1999, Schlafly’s Tap Room brewed up a “Holy Smoke Papal Porter.” And within nineteen hours of Benedict’s election in 2005, Bavaria’s Weideneder Brewery had Pabstbier (“Papal Beer”) available in his hometown of Marktl. For Francis’ visit to America, six different breweries in the Philadelphia area have announced the production of their own special papal brews.
But since not everyone will have access to these regional tributes, it is appropriate to turn to the Taste of Mercy, which is easy to make and ideal for those who like a higher octane papal potation. Best of all, it adds new meaning to the phrase “the Francis effect.”
P.S. For beer, wine, and cocktail suggestions in honor of the saints and for the feast days of the Church calendar, be sure to pick up a copy of Michael P. Foley’s Drinking With the Saints: The Sinner’s Guide to a Holy Happy Hour (see purchase buttons on our home page).