A Wet Catholic Thanksgiving

Not sure how to bring the Catholic spirit into the American celebration of Thanksgiving? Be uncertain no more! Just because Thanksgiving was begun by religious extremists fleeing from Protestant England because it was too Catholic does not mean that we cannot celebrate this great holiday with our own signature pious gusto.

Below is a top five countdown of Catholic drinks for Thanksgiving.

5.   Beer. Any Beer
I am partly inspired to make this recommendation by Chesterton’s line,
“We should thank God for beer and burgundy by not drinking too much of them.” But I am also inspired by the traditional blessing for beer from the Roman Ritual, which does not seek a blessing for just any old beer drinker but for the beer drinker who drinks with thanksgiving to God’s Holy Name:

Blessing of Beer

Let us pray.
Lord, bless this creature beer, which by your kindness and power has been produced from kernels of grain, and let it be a healthful drink for mankind. Grant that whoever drinks it with thanksgiving to your holy name may find it a help in body and in soul. Through Christ our Lord.
℟. Amen.

It should also be recalled that the Pilgrims brewed their own beer . (Finally, something Catholic and Puritans can agree on!) Forplymouthrockbeer Thanksgiving, fill the glass with the beer for which you are most grateful, or scour your local liquor store for Thanksgiving, Autumn, or Harvest-themed beers and ales.


4.  Pink Gin
In 1824 it was discovered that bitters could cure seasickness, and so toplymouth-gin1 encourage sailors to drink them, the British Royal Navy mixed them with something it knew its seamen would like—gin. To be more precise, the Navy mixed bitters, which give the drink its pink color, with “sweet” Plymouth gin instead of “dry” London gin.

You can drink a Pink Gin on Thanksgiving in memory of the perilous sea voyage the Pilgrims undertook and in honor of the new Plymouth they founded. And if you use Black Friars’ Plymouth Gin, you can honor the Dominican Order as well.

Pink Gin
1½ 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.

But how is this specifically Catholic, you ask? Shut up and drink, I answer.


3.  White Lily
Did you know that Squanto, who in more ways than one saved the Pilgrims from perishing, was a baptized Catholic who had been emancipated and catechized by Spanish Franciscans after he had been enslaved by the English? See here for the full story.

Melissa Durant has created an intriguing cocktail called a Squanto which looks delicious but has some ingredients (such as pumpkin bitters) that may be hard to find. An easier option is to invoke the intercession of the Saints. Squanto was never canonized, but the earliest North American saint was likewise a Native American. St. Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680), Kateri Tekakwithaalso known as the “Lily of the Mohawks,” wouldn’t mind sharing the cocktail for her feast day in honor of her fellow Catholic.

White Lily
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Daiquiri rum
1 oz. gin
1 dash absinthe
Pour ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass.


2.   Florida
According to some historians, the first American Thanksgiving was not celebrated by the Puritans in Massachusetts but by the Spanish in Florida. On September 8, 1565 in St. Augustine, Florida, “500 soldiers, 200 sailors and 100 families and artisans, along with the Timucuan Indians celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in gratitude to God” for their settlement. Honor this Catholic attitude of gratitude with a Florida cocktail:

1½ oz. grapefruit juice
¾ oz. Galliano
1 oz. gin
¼ oz. Campari
1 orange slice
Pour all ingredients except orange slice into a shaker filled with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with orange slice.

St Augustine Thanksgiving

Mural on the wall of the Cathedral of St. Augustine depicting the first Thanksgiving.


1.   Martlemas Martini
Before sailing to the New World, the Pilgrims spent some time in Holland and became acquainted with the medieval Catholic custom of celebrating a thanksgiving harvest festival on the Feast of St. Martin of Tours, aka Martinmas or Martlemas. The main course for the feast was a goose, a fact the Pilgrims kept in mind when they celebrated a Thanksgiving feast of their own in their new colonial home; but because they could not find enough geese for their great banquet, they supplemented the menu with a bird unique to the North American continent. And that is how the Martlemas goose became the Thanksgiving turkey.

You can honor this indirect Catholic contribution to Thanksgiving by drinking a Martlemas martini, a DWTS original made with Grey Goose vodka. For the full story on the legend of St. Martin and the geese, kindly consult the Drinking With the Saints entry for November 11.

Martlemas Martini
2 oz. Grey Goose vodka
1 dash dry vermouth
1 lemon twist
Pour ingredients into shaker with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist to represent St. Martin’s torn cloak.

Martlemas Martini Hyatt Washington

A Martlemas Martini, at the Hilton in Washington, D.C.

Do you have “Catholic Thanksgiving” drink suggestions of your own? Feel free to share them on our facebook page. Happy Thanksgiving!