The Bénédictine Option

Benedictine Option

Photo by Andrea Dahm

If you follow religious cultural discussions, you’ve probably heard of Rod Dreher’s “Benedict Option” in which Christians are admonished to imitate St. Benedict of Nursia and “strategically withdraw” from popular culture to reclaim their identity.

Dreher’s thesis has been attacked unfairly (check out James K.A. Smith’s broadside, a vigorous counterattack, and Dreher’s own deliciously titled response), but it has also been criticized more dispassionately herehere and here. Accused of not always being the most careful student of history or theology (as he himself humbly admits), Dreher has been challenged on his misunderstanding of St. Benedict’s achievements and legacy, of the nature of the Church, and of the nature of the polis. Unsatisfied interlocutors have subsequently offered alternatives to the Benedict Option (at least as Dreher has formulated it), and hence there are now calls for the the Augustine Option, the Franciscan Option, the Escriva Option, the [William F.] Buckley Option, the Gamgee Option, and my personal favorite for sheer audacity–because it involves chopping down oak trees that are sacred to pagans–the Boniface Option.

But right or wrong, every good intellectual catchphrase deserves its own drink, which brings me to “The Bénédictine Option,” an ingenious cocktail invented by my friend and estimable philosopher, Clifton Bryant.

The Bénédictine Option
2 oz. Early Times bourbon
.5 oz. Bénédictine liqueur
dash of orange bitters
orange wedge
Pour all ingredients except orange into a shaker filled with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with orange wedge.

As Bryant explains, you’ve got the Bénédictine in honor of St. Benedict; you’ve got a Walker Percy reference (Early Times was Percy’s favorite and Percy, a Benedictine oblate, is a favorite of Dreher); and you’ve got a drink resembling an Old Fashioned in which you have availed yourself of the “option” of using Bénédictine instead of simple syrup. Beautiful.

The Bénédictine Option is the perfect drink after a long day in the strategically-withdrawn bunker and the ideal stimulus for “an intentional and thoughtful retreat into narrativity.” Indeed, the greater the number of Bénédictine Options, the more creative, no doubt, will be the narrativity.