In my new book Drinking with Your Patron Saints, I offer more than 100 recipes to help introduce some festive piety and a grateful memory of the communion of saints into an otherwise worldly occasion. Here are some suggestions for forthcoming feast days. Just remember: as a Jesuit casuist will be the first to tell you, although it is not okay to drink while you pray, it is okay to pray while you drink.
St Bernardine of Siena, May 20
St Bernardine (1380-1444) was a Franciscan friar and the greatest preacher of his day, sometimes attracting crowds as large as 30,000. The saint initially suffered from hoarseness, but the Blessed Virgin Mary cured him. He was also a formidable enemy of vice: when he spoke out against gambling in the city of Bologna, he was so successful that a manufacturer of playing cards went bust. The kind saint, who had a great regard for entrepreneurs, helped the man spring back by suggesting that he print IHS holy cards. The fellow made a small fortune from his newfound piety.
You can limit your gambling to trying a brand-new drink. Andrew Anderson, chief mixologist at Balcones Distilling, created the Double Down Cocktail just for Drinking With Your Patron Saints. Its main ingredient, the magnificent and fiery Balcones Brimstone, will either cure you of hoarseness or cause it.
1½ oz. Balcones Brimstone
¾ oz. sweet vermouth
½ oz. Aperol
2–3 dashes Angosura bitters
1 orange twist
Build liquid ingredients into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice and stir forty times. Garnish with orange.
St Philip Neri, May 26
Before being ordained to the priesthood and founding the Oratorian Congregation, St Philip Neri (1515-95) liked to wander the streets of Rome day and night striking up conversations that would change people’s lives; he even frequented the rough parts of town and persuaded several bruisers to become his disciples and, eventually, priests.
Since no saint haunted city streets more than St Philip, it seems right to raise a glass of Boulevardier. It’s essentially a Negroni with whiskey instead of gin – a drink manly enough for the Green Berets, a client of St Philip’s. In 2002 the United States Army Special Forces named him their patron because he “embodied the traits of the ideal Special Forces Soldier: Selfless, Superb Teacher, and Inspirational Leader.”
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1¼ oz. rye whiskey
1 orange twist or slice (for garnish)
Pour liquid ingredients into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice and stir forty times. Garnish with orange twist.
Mary, Our Lady of Graces, June 9
In 1955, Pope Pius XII declared Our Lady of Graces patroness of Italian skiers after noting the custom of skiers’ paying homage to a Marian image in the town of Folgaria, Italy. In the Italian Alps, where the image of Our Lady of Graces is located, the Bombardino reigns supreme. This delicious mixed drink is made with egg liqueur such as Zabov Zabaglione, but if you can’t find this Italian product, use Rompope, a Mexican egg liqueur that has the added advantage of being invented by nuns. And for even greater pious effect, use Christian Brothers brandy. Put these all together, and you have a semi-original called the Snow Top Lady, which I hereby dedicate to Our Lady of Graces.
3 oz. Rompope
1½ oz. Christian Brothers brandy
Heat Rompope in a small saucepan. Pour warm brandy into a mug or Irish coffee cup. When the Rompope is hot but not yet boiling, slowly pour onto the brandy. Stir forty times and top with a generous amount of whipped cream (the snow top, of course). Sprinkle with cinnamon.