Heart Warmers!

St Francis de SalesIf you missed the feast of St. Francis de Sales on January 24 on the new calendar, take heart: God has given you a second chance today with the feast of St. Francis de Sales on the traditional calendar (January 29). And St. Francis de Sales is worth celebrating:  appointed Bishop of Geneva over an area that had become overwhelmingly Calvinist, he won back 70,000 souls to the Church through his patience, hard work, and gentleness: hence one of his nicknames, “The Gentleman Saint.” St. Francis is also called the “Doctor of Charity” for his keen psychological understanding of love and the human heart. Check out his Introduction to the Devout Life and you will readily agree.

For this heart-warming saint, we have two different Heart Warmer options depending on the weather and your own heart’s delight.

Heart Warmer #1 Heart Warmer 1
½ oz. vanilla liqueur
½ oz. peppermint white liqueur
½ oz. Amaretto
6 oz. hot black coffee
Pour all ingredients into an Irish coffee cup or coffee mug and stir.


Heart Warmer #2Heart Warmer 2
1½ oz. Kahlua
1 oz. vodka
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 oz. milk
Pour all ingredients in an old-fashioned glass filled with ice and stir until very cold.


Last Call
Adapt this beautiful quote from St. Francis’ Treatise on the Love of God into a toast: “Love has neither convicts nor slaves, but brings all things under its obedience with a force so delightful that just as nothing is so strong as love, nothing also is so sweet as its strength.”


Forget Hump Day: Today is Plough Monday, and You Need a Drink


In the agrarian parts of England, the Monday after the Twelve Days of Christmas is traditionally known as Plough Monday, the time to say goodbye to Christmas merriment and return to the grindstone–or plow or desk or whatever. You can read about some of the charming customs of the day here.

I don’t know any “ploughmen,” but I do know plenty of people who could use a drink to ease their transition back to the daily grind. In honor of this tradition, turn to your favorite English beer or ale (Newcastle, Speckled Hen, etc.). Or for something warm on a cold work night, play on the plow theme with a Snow Plow:

Snow Plow Snow-Plow-Cocktail-8
1 oz. Bailey’s Irish cream
1 oz. coconut rum
½ oz. creme de cacao
10 oz. hot chocolate, or less if your glass is smaller
whipped cream
cocoa sprinkles
Pour Bailey’s, rum, creme de cacao, and hot chocolate into a mug or Irish coffee cup and stir. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle a little cocoa powder onto it.

Last Call
A toast: May the joys and blessings of the Christmas season forever soften our toils at the plow.

St. Simeon and Regnery Publishing

holed up 1

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 Rregnery colophonegnery 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.

Holed Up
2 oz. Blüfeld Riesling wine
1 oz. elderflower liqueur
Amarena cherry
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.

holed up 2The 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.

A Cocktail for a Very Unusual Feast

januarius blood

In a few days we will be celebrating an event truly worthy of a drink. September 19 is the Feast of St. Januarius, a fourth-century martyr whose head and dried blood (kept in a phial) are preserved in a church in Naples. The saint’s head and the blood are brought together several times a year (including his feast day), and when they are, the blood becomes liquid and bubbles up as though it were fresh. If it doesn’t,  a group of januariuspoor women known as the zie di San Gennaro (aunts of St. Januarius) “make themselves specially conspicuous by the fervour, and sometimes, when the miracle is delayed, by the extravagance, of their supplications.” When the saint’s melodramatic aunts cannot convince him to effect the desired miracle, impending disaster is predicted. In 1941, when the dry red powder in the phial failed to liquefy, Mt. Vesuvius erupted.

So this Feast of St. Januarius, drink either to celebrate the liquefaction of the saint’s blood or drink to drown your sorrows over impending doom. Either way, we have the perfect cocktail for the occasion. The Life Blood Warmer, a cocktail so ancient and rare that one of its ingredients, listed in the 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book as simply “L.B.W.,” has remained a mystery—until now. Our crack Drinking With the Saints team, mustering what few brain cells it had left, deduced that the acronym stands for “Lillet Blanc Wine” and has verified this conclusion in multiple taste-tests—ironically destroying the remaining brain cells that facilitated the insight to begin with. We cannot prove our hunch scientifically, but that also seems appropriate for today’s surreal feast.

Dearly beloved, for the first time in almost eighty years, the Life Blood Warmer.

Life Blood Warmer
½ oz. Lillet Blanc wine
½ oz. orange juice
1¼ oz. gin
½ oz. Cointreau
Pour all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass. Note: some of our panelists liked the drink better with another half ounce of orange juice.

Last Call
Have a contest to see who can come up with the worst pun or joke involving today’s saint, blood, and liquefaction. Or if you are tongue-tied, watch Godfather Part II where Vito assassinates Don Fanucci and Godfather III where Vinnie, Vito’s grandson, assassinates Joey Zasa (“Zah-Zah”!). Both scenes take place during the famous Feast of San Genarro in New York’s Little Italy.

Finally, if St. Januarius’ blood liquefies on September 19 as hoped, feel free to celebrate this happy news on September 20.


An Ignatian Retreat to the Bottle

Ignatius of Loyola

The Jesuit Order isn’t exactly at its high-water mark of excellence these days, but that’s no reason to take it out on its founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) . The Spanish saint’s feast is this Monday, July 31, and lest you have to think too hard about what to drink as you battle the summer heat, I would like to narrow down your options to one: a Mexico Pacifico. In DWTS I recommend this drink for the Mexican martyr Miguel Pro, but I don’t think he would mind sharing with his order’s founder. A Mexico Pacifico is easy to make and an excellent cocktail for summer: think of it as a more sublime iteration of the margarita.

Mexico Pacificomexico-pacifico
1½ oz. tequila
½ oz. lime juice
½ oz. passion fruit syrup
1 lime wheel for garnish
Pour all ingredients except lime wheel into a shaker with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with lime wheel.

The key ingredient, passion fruit syrup, is not only what makes it so delicious but what gives the drink a connection to St. Ignatius. Jesuit missionaries in New Spain made great catechetical use of the Passion Flower, seeing in its details an allegory of Our Lord’s Passion: The flower’s five sepals and five petals call to mind the ten Apostles who deserted but did not betray Christ, the corona represents the Crown of Thorns, the vine tendrils symbolize the flagella used in the scourging, etc.

Last Call
In the Spiritual Exercises Ignatius provides helpful rules for the “discernment of spirits,” but today you can give that phrase a whole new meaning. Before the first round, adopt the motto of the Jesuits and say, “To St. Ignatius: For the greater glory of God!” Before the second round, say, “To St. Ignatius and the art of being Jesuitical!” Before the third round, paraphrase a memorable line from Pascal and say, “To St. Ignatius and his casuists, the lambs of God who take away the sins of the world!”


Three Beers for St. Thomas More

The great Saint Thomas More (1478-1535) was martyred for refusing to acknowledge King Henry VIII as head of the Church of England. More was beheaded on July 6, which prior to the 1950s was the Octave Day of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. More took consolation knowing that he was being martyred on a feast honoring St. Peter, to whose See he was remaining loyal at the cost of his life. In the traditional calendar prior to Vatican II, Thomas More’s own feast day was assigned to July 9, the first available day after his “heavenly birthday”–July 6 had the octave, July 7 Saints Cyril and Methodius, and July 8 Saint Elizabeth of Portugal. In the new, post Vatican-II calendar, St. Thomas More shares a feast day with Cardinal John Fisher on June 22, the date that Fisher was martyred for the faith.

Why bring all this up now? Because as far as I am concerned, the entire month of July is a good time to reflect on the life and legacy of Thomas More–and if you want a rather macabre reminder of this, consider the fact that since Thomas More was executed as a traitor, his head was placed on a spike on London Bridge for nearly a month until it needed to make way for other heads (his daughter Meg bribed an official and retrieved it when it was time to bring it down; otherwise More’s head would have been tossed into the Thames). We don’t know the exact date when this precious relic was thus preserved, but July 6 through July 31 is “nearly a month.”

And July is also a good time to drink beer. As it turns out, St. Thomas More enjoyed

Thomas More

“No large beer, please.”

“small beer”–that is, beer with an alcohol content low enough to be suitable for “women, children, and manual laborers”! (there was just enough alcohol in the brew to kill water-borne pathogens without making you groggy). Today, the term “small beer” is also used for: 1) the second runnings from a very strong beer mash and, 2) beers that are thought to lack flavor. For small beer in the first sense, the easiest to find is probably Anchor Small Beer, produced by the Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco from the second runnings of their Old Foghorn Barleywine. For small beer in the second sense, turn to the blandest light beer you’ve ever tasted and have at it.

I also recently learned that Thomas More’s great-grandfather was a brewer. John Joye,

Trinity Hall Aldersgate Street

Trinity Hall, the former Falcon on the Hoop Brewery, where Thomas More’s great-grandparents lived.

whose daughter Johanna married William More (Thomas’ grandfather), was one of London’s many beermakers. In 1460, he and his wife Joan rented a brewery called The Falcon on the Hoop on the west side of Aldersgate Street, where they also resided. The brew house eventually became Trinity Hall, which survived into the nineteenth century (see photo). We don’t know for certain what the building looked like in John Joye’s day, but in 1782 it was said to have a stained glass featuring “a monkey in a monk’s habit shaving a dog, which is seated in a chair.” Now that would make a great beer label.

It might be difficult where you are to track down an authentic beer made in London, although the city has its fair share of craft breweries (see here). Many brews are associated with London, such as 1) summer ales, 2) IPAs, and 3) Porters. IPAs and Porters are only a couple of hundred years old. “Summer ale” is also a recent label, although these lighter, golden ales hearken to a medieval tradition of local parishes making “Whitsun Ales” (after Whitsunday or Pentecost) for fundraising and social activities.


Thomas More’s last words were not, as it is often reported, “I die the King’s good servant but God’s first” but rather “I die the King’s good servant and God’s first.” The difference indicates that even in defying the wishes of Henry VIII, More was being his good servant, bearing witness to the truth and calling him back to God. Even in disobedience Thomas More saw no conflict between serving God and his earthly monarch. The better a servant of God he was, the better a servant to his fellow men. Period. It is a truth worth reflecting upon in our own day and age.

We can take More’s profound statement and turn it into a toast honoring him: “To St. Thomas More: The king’s good servant, and God’s first!”

Alehouse medieval

A medieval alehouse.



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.

Surprising Drinks for St. Patrick’s Day

Last year we published Irish ideas for observing  St. Patrick’s Day, and while we still stand by those ideas, this year we want to serve St. Patrick’s Day with a twist. Instead of suggesting Irish drinks (good though they be), let us turn to some non-Irish libations that pay tribute to the early life of the man who would go on to drive the snakes from Erin.

For you see, one of the ironies in thinking of St. Patrick’s Day as a holiday for celebrating Irish Identity (as we do here in the U.S.) is that Saint Patrick himself was not Irish. Worse, according to some of his biographers, he may have been (gasp!) English. As a young lad the future Apostle of Ireland was kidnapped off the coast of Great Britain (possibly England, probably Scotland) and made a slave to an Irish chieftain. Patrick eventually escaped, at which point he studied in France, was ordained a priest, commissioned by the Pope to return to Ireland to preach the Gospel, and subsequently consecrated a bishop. It is that side of Patrick, the side that gets neglected amidst all the shiny shamrocks and green beer, that we hereby wish to honor with drinks.

St. Martin of Tours
Young Patrick studied at the monastery founded by St. Martin of Tours. Although St. Martlemas Martini Hyatt WashingtonMartin had gone on to his eternal reward by then, Patrick was related to the great saint on his mother’s side. To honor this chapter of Patrick’s life, try the drink that we recommend on St. Martin’s Day, a Martlemas Martini:

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 Martin’s torn cloak.

St. Germanus
Patrick was ordained a priest by St. Germanus, who also recommended him to the Pope for the Irish mission. Germanus’ name graces every bottle of St. Germain, the magical liqueur made from elderflower.


St-Germain Cocktail
2 oz. brut champagne or dry sparkling wine (like Prosecco)
1½ oz. St-Germain
2 oz. club soda
lemon twist
Stir liquid ingredients in a tall glass filled with ice, mixing them completely. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

Pope St. Celestine I
Pope Celestine commissioned Patrick to bring the Irish people into the one fold of Christ and gave him the name by which he is known today.  According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Celestine called the newly commissioned missionary Patercius or Patritius, “not as an honorary title [as if he were ‘patrician’], but as a foreshadowing of the fruitfulness and merit of his apostolate whereby he became pater civium (the father of his people).”

We have no special drink for St. Celestine, but anyone who sits on the chair of St. Peter deserves to be honored by the drink of St. Peter, which in our book (and we mean that literally– see Drinking with the Saints is  a Gibson:Gibson St. Peter

Gibson Martini
2 oz. gin
1 dash vermouth
pearl onions
Pour gin and vermouth, into a shaker with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with one or two pearl onions speared by a cocktail sword. For a Vodka Gibson, substitute gin for vodka.

St. Maximus
Patrick was on his way back from Rome when he learned of the death of Palladius, the bishop who had first been sent to the Irish but who abandoned the mission after he was bullied by an Irish chieftain (sometimes, the Irish can be ornery). So Patrick went to St. Maximus of Turin (380-465), who ordained him bishop.

There is a legend about Maximus commanding a doe to nurse a thirsty man, so we recommend the next best thing, a Hart. A hart, of course, is an adult male deer: like we said, it’s the next best thing.

1 oz. gin
1 oz. Dubonnet
1 oz. dry vermouth
Pour all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Last Call
Whatever your drink on St. Patrick’s Day, don’t forget the toast. This passage from the beautiful prayer “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” is a good choice:

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort,
Christ in the chariot seat,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

St Patrick snakes out of Ireland

Catholic Drinks for Groundhog Day


Can a good Catholic drink to the groundhog and his shadow on this secular holiday? He sure can, for the groundhog works for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and this secular holiday owes its existence to the Church calendar.

In the traditional calendar,  February 2  is “Candlemas,” the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which commemorates Mary’s ritual purification and her solemn presentation of her Son in the Holy Temple forty days after His birth. It was on this occasion that the aged prophet Simeon took the infant Jesus in his hands and declared him to be a “light for the revelation of the gentiles” (Luke 2:32). Simeon’s prophecy and the focus on light eventually led to a folk belief that the weather on February 2 had a particularly keen prognostic value. If the sun shone for the greater part of the day, there would be, it was claimed, forty more days of winter, but if the skies were cloudy and gray, there would be an early spring.

The Germans amended this lore by bringing into the equation either the badger or the hedgehog (not to mention their shadows); yet when they emigrated to Pennsylvania in colonial times, they could find no such creatures around. Instead they saw plenty of what the Native Americans in the area called a wojak, or woodchuck. Since the Indians considered the groundhog to be a wise animal, it seemed only natural to appoint the furry fellow—as Phil the Groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, is now called—“Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.”

The Feast of the Purification got its nickname “Candlemas” (Mass of the Candles) because candles would be blessed on this day and used in great processions that would drive away the winter’s night.


A nice way to commemorate the grand Candlemas processions of old is with a flaming, minty after-dinner drink called a Medieval Candle. The wide mouth of a cocktail or liqueur glass works best; we found that a snifter, with its narrow top, does not properly combust the surface fumes. (It also helps that the ingredients are at least at room temperature.) Finally, the 100-proof Southern Comfort is preferable for combustion purposes. And don’t worry: some of that alcohol will be burned off.

Medieval Candle
½ oz. white crème de menthe
½ oz. Southern Comfort (100 proof if available)
Build ingredients in a small cocktail glass or liqueur glass and light the top.

Turn off the lights in order to enjoy the full effect. It will be tempting to let the mesmerizing blue flame continue burning, but remember that the longer it does, the hotter it will make the rim of the glass (and we do mean hot). You may even need to pour the drink into another glass to be on the safe side. And yes, you’ll want to blow out the flame before attempting to consume.

Other Options
One of our favorite movies is the 1993 Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell andie-macdowell-sweet-vermouth(if you want my Catholic interpretation of the movie, click here. The article, incidentally, is much better after the second round). Several drinks in the movie are mentioned: Phil Connors (Bill Murray) drinks Jim Beam on the rocks, and Rita (Andie MacDowell) drinks sweet vermouth on the rocks with a twist, which sounds like a girly drink but is actually quite good. And in the background you can also see giant steins of tantalizing beer in the German restaurant where Phil and Rita dine. Groundhog Party, anyone?

To make Rita’s drink, pour a couple of ounces of sweet vermouth into an old-fashioned glass with ice. Garnish with a twist of lemon and swirl about a bit before drinking.

Toasting Suggestion
One of the old candle blessings for this day makes an ideal toast, especially when a Medieval Candle is being served. “To our good Lord, a Light to the revelation of the Gentiles, who was presented in the Temple on this day. May we one day be presented in the Holy Temple of His glory, inflamed by the fire of His most sweet charity.”



A Superior White Lady for the Immaculate Conception

A happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary to you! Last year I posted drink suggestions for this august solemnity here, including a recipe for a White Lady cocktail.

This year my good friend Father Robert Johansen has made a video showing us how to make a more elaboration variation of the White Lady that he claims with great conviction is superior to the one presented in the blog and in our book Drinking with the Saints. The venerable Internet Cocktail Database (which was a key resource in the composition of our book) lists six different versions of the White Lady, and that does not include Fr. Rob’s version, which he learned from an older imbiber who found the recipe in a dusty old cocktail book decades ago. So we are doubly grateful that Fr. Rob is now bringing this recipe back into the public eye.

Here is the list of ingredients for the “superior” White Lady, followed by Fr. Rob’s video.

White Lady
1 oz gin
1 oz vodka
1 oz Cointreau
1 egg white
2 tsp powdered sugar
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 oz water
lemon bitters (optional)
crushed ice

And Fr. Rob’s video on how to make it is here. Thank you, Father! You have definitely whetted my appetite for tonight’s happy hour.

O Mary Immaculate, conceived without original sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!