“Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him going into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
A group of people staring blankly at the sky until a couple of angels snap them out of it: let’s hope that is not a description of a typical Drinking with the Saints party. But it’s not hard to resist the temptation to celebrate the Ascension of our Lord, which was no mere “mission accomplished” celebration but the final phase in our redemption, when Christ opened the gates of Heaven for mankind for the first time. So regardless of whether you celebrate this Feast on a Thursday or a Sunday, you need to celebrate.
It was once a custom in Europe to eat fowl on the great Feast of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ forty days after His Resurrection “because Christ ‘flew’ to Heaven.” Bakers in Germany followed this precedent by making pastries for the Ascension in the shape of various birds.
We’d like to follow the precedent too, in our own special way. Tonight, have a drink associated with a bird. It could be a cider like Woodpecker, a lager liked Golden Eagle, or a wine like Rex Goliath (named after a rooster). Or why not lift an old page from American popular culture and have a bottle of Cold Duck? In the 1970s it was one of the best-selling sparkling wines in the U.S., with two million cases of E&J Gallo’s André Sweet Sparkling Red Cold Duck sold every year. Cold Duck can be traced to a Bavarian custom of mixing cold sparkling Burgundy with bottles of already-opened champagne. The practice, which was called cold end (kalte ende), came to be known as cold duck (kalte ente).
In the realm of cocktails, you can have something made with Greygoose vodka, Famous Grouse scotch, or Wild Turkey bourbon. Let your imagination–your knowledge of booze labels–be your guide.
Better yet, try a Phoenix Bird, the legend of which we hereby commandeer from the hoary volumes of mythology and use as a symbol of our risen Lord flying out of the ash-heap of death up to the right hand of the Father. (Plus, it’s a good cocktail.)
1 oz. bourbon
½ oz. crème de banana
½ oz. triple sec
1 oz. cream
Pour all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass.
The Church traditionally uses Psalm 46:6 on this feast day, and you can too. One person says, “God is ascended with jubilee, alleluia!” and another replies, “And the Lord with the sound of the trumpet, alleluia!”