Holy Spirits!

‘Drinking with the Saints’ offers a refreshing take on Catholic history

drinking-saintsI’m always looking for creative ways to explore my faith. I also really enjoy a good cocktail.

So when Michael P. Foley’s “Drinking with the Saints” came my way, I busted out the ol’ martini shaker and sat down for a little educational reading.

This comprehensive “guide to a holy happy hour” features cocktail recipes and drink selections to match with saints, feast days, and seasons of the Church. In part one, Foley, who has a doctorate in Catholic theology, delves into Catholic tradition and recounts the lives of the saints in a lighthearted and approachable way, all with a creative tie to a suggested spirit. In part two, he matches the liturgical seasons of the Church with appropriately themed libations.

As Foley points out in the foreword, Catholics have a storied history with booze. Whiskey was invented by Irish monks, beer refined in medieval monasteries, and one of the world’s finest champagnes is named after a Benedictine monk by the familiar name of Dom Perignon.

To do my part in honoring our rich Church history and the holy women and men who helped shaped it, I sat down with Foley’s book for a little sampling. I toasted Pentecost with a “White Flame” (gin, Cointreau, and champagne), learned about the life of St. Margaret of Scotland with the “Royal Scot” (blended scotch, Drambuie, grenadine and lemon juice), and honored the throat-saving legacy of St. Blaise with the “Down the Hatch” (bourbon, blackberry brandy, orange bitters).

Each beverage was quite tasty, and through my sampling, I learned a great deal about saints I had never even known of before, like Saint Sebastian, a Roman soldier so tough he was martyred twice (ouch), or Saint Modomnoc, a beekeeper whose loyal bees followed him to Ireland (it’s good to have friends). And who knew there was a patron saint of hangovers?

But before the imbibing Catholic gets labeled as a drunkard, it’s important to note that ‘Drinking’ isn’t about getting sloshed with the saints. Foley explains that it’s about the refined art of drinking — one that involves a discerning palate, spirit of fellowship, and a sense of moderation. “One of the goals of this book is to encourage Catholic friendship and merriment and to increase the number of pious parties across the land.”

It’s a mission I can get behind. I’ve always enjoyed the camaraderie and ease of conversation that comes with sharing beverages with friends, the excitement over experiencing a new medley of flavors, and the artistry of creating a high-end cocktail. I was delighted with the friends who offered to help me “experience” the book, but even more thrilled about the lively spiritual conversations that followed.

So next time you raise a glass, celebrate a spirit of conviviality with your favorite saints. Cheers!