To celebrate their 70th anniversary, the good folks at Regnery (who publish DWTS), asked me to make a cocktail in honor of St. Simeon of Trier, the medieval hermit who stayed in the Porta Nigra, the silhouette of which appears as the colophon on the spine of every Regnery book. Regnery had the drink available during their 70th anniversary party on October 4, 2017–though to live up to their reputation as America’s most dangerous publisher, they added gin. Hence the Washington Post‘s coverage of the event included the line: “The bars were open, serving a gin-spiked cocktail inspired by the publisher’s patron saint (it’s a long story).”
Well, here’s the long story, and the drink.
When Henry Regnery founded the Henry Regnery Company in 1947, he chose as its logo the Porta Nigra, the world’s largest Roman city gate north of the Alps, located in present-day Trier, Germany. Henry chose this landmark to honor his grandfather Wilhelm, a winemaker from near Trier who immigrated to the United States in the 1870s. He also wanted this colophon to represent the passage from the uncivilized world of ignorance into an enlightened civilization.
Henry Regnery may have also known that the Porta Nigra’s most famous occupant was a medieval recluse named Saint Simeon of Trier, a native of Sicily who received permission to be sealed up in a cell high in the gate tower from 1028 until his death in 1035. Not everybody understood Simeon’s vocation, and so when a flood ravaged the city and the nearby countryside, suspicious townsfolk assumed Simeon was a trouble-making sorcerer and pelted his cell with stones, breaking its only window. But Simeon persevered, and when he eventually died, he was buried in his cell in accordance with his wishes. Soon after numerous miracles were attributed to him, and not long after his death, the Porta Nigra was converted into a church, thus saving it from being destroyed by scavengers who used old buildings as quarries.
I see a lot in common with Saint Simeon and the Regnery Publishing family. Both have immigrant roots, both are not always understood by the masses and subject to pelting but both persevere. And the legacy of both, we hope, is to conserve the best of the past and to make the world less uncivilized and more enlightened.
In honor, then, of both Saint Simeon and Regnery, I present to you an original cocktail, the Holed Up.
2 oz. Blüfeld Riesling wine
1 oz. elderflower liqueur
1½ oz. club soda
1 dash angostura bitters
Build all ingredients into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir gently for a Russell Kirk version, violently for an Ann Coulter version.
The Amarena cherry is in memory of St. Simeon’s homeland of Italy. Riesling wine honors the famous Mosel region of Germany, where Wilhelm Regnery worked as a winemaker and where St. Simeon spent his final years, while Blüfeld honors the color blue, the original color of conservatism before some nincompoop at NBC screwed things up with his “red” and “blue” states. Elderflower liqueur pays tribute to the wisdom of the elders which St. Simeon and Regnery have sought to conserve. And bitters reflect the bitter truth to which St. Simeon and Regnery are committed in season and out, despite all angry mobs.
To Regnery Publishing and to its founding family, its employees, and its authors: Through the intercession of the hermit St. Simeon of Trier, may their keep their heads holed up high!
St. Simeon’s feast day is May 1. Drink to his holy memory then, or every time you buy or read a Regnery publication.