The Desert Father

I am pleased to announce a new, almost completely nonalcoholic drink (except for the bitters) created by the esteemed liturgical scholar Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, which he has graciously agreed to share with us. Dr. K came up with the drink as a Lenten substitute for the hard stuff, but this also looks like a great summer beverage. Here it is now:

The Desert Father Desert Father
By Peter Kwasniewski
Seltzer water (sparkling water)
1 tbs. of true grenadine (must be the real stuff, made from pomegranate)
1/4 tsp. (a few dashes) of aromatic bitters
wedge of lime, squeezed

Pour seltzer water in an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Add the other ingredients and stir.

I love the title. The Desert Fathers were a remarkable collection of hermits and monks who lived in the Egyptian desert starting around the third century A.D. Their writings, usually in the form of apothegms or proverbs are pithy yet punchy and profound, mystical yet common-sensical. They were also a very ascetical bunch: “dry” does more than describe the climate in which they lived. I don’t think any of them were ideological teetotalers, but when your sole diet is half a loaf of bread that a raven brings you every day (as was the case with St. Paul the Hermit), it’s hard to make cocktail requests.
“The Desert Father” is also ripe for allegorical interpretation. Let’s see…
  • Seltzer water for the waters of baptism (the bubbles signifying the Resurrection in which we are reborn). The Desert Fathers went to the desert to radically live out their baptismal vows.
  • The lime for the bittersweet life of a hermit in the desert and the fruit that it bore.
  • The bitters for their often dramatic struggles against the Devil, whom they combatted constantly.
  • Pomegranate, which is a symbol of Christian self-giving and self-renunciation, for the sweet consolation of their victory in Christ.

St. Antony in the Desert, pray for us! And thank you, Peter K, for the drink.


Coptic icon of Sts. Antony and Paul the Hermit from Monastery of Abu Sayfayn, Old Cairo, 18th Century