Foundation Cocktail (for the Feast of Peter’s Confession)


Recipe

  • 1.5oz Dry Gin
  • 1oz Sweet Vermouth
  • .75oz Green Chartreuse
  • .5oz Olive Brine
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 dash Walnut Bitters
  • Garnish with Olive

Thematically, you should build the cocktail in the glass with the ice, but this is a lot of liquid. So the other option is to stir all ingredients in a mixing glass and pour over a large ice cube and serve the rest in a sidecar glass on the side. Garnish with an olive speared by two picks.

* * * *

And on this rock, I will build my… cocktail.

January 18 is a multi-layered date in the Christian Church calendar. Primarily, it is a feast day to celebrate the moment when Peter confesses that Jesus is the Messiah. But a lot of other things happen in this same passage that are also included in this day.

Peter gets his name changed from Simon to Peter. Catholics would say that Jesus appoints Peter as the first pope here. Jesus also says the word “church” here for the first time, as he says he will build it on this “rock” of Peter, so this is also considered the honorary birthday of the church.

Lastly, the World Council of Churches chose this feast day as an appropriate kick-off for the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. So like I said, it’s a lot, and so is this cocktail.

The drink is strong and maybe the most subtly complex drink I’ve ever made. It has a lovely progression from light saltiness in the front into a deep, quiet sweetness in the back. It’s an acquired taste, but one I’d proudly feature on a cocktail menu. So enjoy the drink while meditating on the church’s foundational moment and praying a prayer for Christian unity

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Baptism Birthday (a Holy Day cocktail)


Recipe

  • 1.5oz Gin
  • 1.5oz Light Rum
  • .25 Anisette Liquer
  • .5 barspoon Absinthe
  • 3 dashes Rhubarb Bitters
  • Express a lime peel over the top

Stir all ingredients in mixing glass and strain into a martini glass or coupe. Express the oils of a lime peel over the top. No garnish.

* * * *

For a several years now, I have celebrated my annual “baptism birthday” to reflect on my baptism, my membership in the family of God, and the seal of assurance God has on me.

It’s beautiful and meaningful, and it deserved a cocktail. And, seeing as yesterday was the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, this seems like a good time to share it with you.

My goal was to make a drink like baptism–it looks like it’s just water but there’s a lot more going on.

Boy, did I succeed.

The drink is a lovely balance of floral and nutty with some herbal spice to it. These flavors really meld well together to create a complex bouquet of flavors that’s really striking (why don’t more drinks mix gin and rum!?).

This drink is a favorite of mine for its meaning, aesthetic, and taste, and I hope it can become that way to you. As you drink it, remember your own baptism and the promise of God to mark you and keep you as his child.

Ingredients

I used a juicy, citrus-forward, and very flavorful gin rather than a dry gin. For the rum, I used Maggie’s Farm White Rum, which is fantastic and has more character than most light rums, but whatever you have should work fine. Absinthe is an acquired taste, but it’s used in such small quantities and there are enough competing strong flavors that Absinthe-haters should not fear. It’s a lovely accent on the drink.

The only somewhat obscure ingredients are the bitters and liqueur. I supposed you could use orange bitters in place of rhubarb, but only if they are a very strong sweet orange flavor. The Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters taste almost like sweet tarts, with a unique strong burst of flavor (it’s especially delicious added to plain seltzer). So if you can get your hands on those, they’re worth your time.

Lastly, when most people think of Anise in cocktails, they think absinthe, but the liqueur is a very different beast. Absinthe begins with anise, but adds a lot of bittering agents. Anisette adds sugar, coriander, and other ingredients that make a very sweet, nutty flavor. So much so that you might be able to substitute Amaretto into this drink.

“Gifts of the Magi” (an Epiphany cocktail)


Recipe

  • 1oz Rye (for Gold)
  • 1oz Campari (for Myrrh)
  • 1oz Averna (for Frankincense)
  • .25oz Fernet Branca (optional)
  • Garnish with a trinity of Lemon, Lime, and Orange peels

Stir all ingredients in mixing glass and pour over fresh ice. Garnish with a peel each of lemon, lime, and orange.

* * * *

Tonight begins the season of Epiphany, a season that covers a lot of ground thematically and in the life of Christ. It begins January 6, with a celebration of the Wise Men visiting Jesus when he was three years old–and that’s what tonight’s cocktail is for.

At its core, it’s a riff on a Boulevardier, but wow is it good and different than the original. I think I prefer it. The Averna lends a lot of depth and complexity that vermouth often lacks.

The drink is in honor of the Magi. The Bible does not specify how many their were, but tradition says three. So we have here an equal three parts cocktail for each of the Wise Men’s gifts.

Rye gives its beautiful golden hue. “Myrrh” comes from the Aramaic word for “bitter”, so Campari it is. Lastly, my understanding is that Frankincense has a piney, sweet taste/aroma with a touch of orange, and this sounds a lot like Averna, my favorite amaro.

This drink is fantastic like this, but if you want an extra bit of depth and meaning, throw in a bar spoon of Fernet Branca which, to me, is the most “Epiphany” spirit out there–dark and bitter, with that bright minty note breaking through. I love it, and it complements the drink really well, though I know it’s an acquired taste.

Like this cocktail, I hope this season of Epiphany (and it’s interesting and unexpected melange of holy days) is one full of meaning, depth, and complexity for you. Cheers!

“Twelfth Night” (a cocktail for the last day of Christmas)


Recipe

  • 1.5oz Gin
  • 1oz Dry Madeira
  • .75oz Cointreau
  • .25oz Cinnamon Syrup
  • .25oz Cranberry Juice
  • .25oz Orange Juice
  • Pinch of ground clove
  • Orange Wheel garnish

Shake all ingredients, including the clove. Strain into a chilled coupe. Express an orange peel over the top. Garnish with an orange wheel and two toothpicks.

* * * *

The final night of the 12-day Christmas season is called “Twelfth Night”. It’s the last day of gift-giving, decorations, many food and drink traditions (including wassail!), and a Shakespeare play—and now I have a cocktail for it! And don’t forget the “drumstick” garnishes in honor of the song’s 12 drummers drumming.

This is an amazing Christmas cocktail. It has dark fruit notes, with a touch of brightness, and a lot of complexity and depth without being a “sweet” drink. It definitely straddles the line between a sipper and easy drinking. It is a slight variation of this drink in honor of the play.

The ingredients are mostly self-explanatory, except for the madeira. I don’t have a ton of experience with it, but I know there’s huge variation between the different types and brands. For this I used Broadbent Rainwater Medium Dry Madeira. Your mileage may vary depending on what you find. You may be able to substitute a port or even a dark sweet vermouth.

Enjoy this drink and have the merriest of final Christmas evenings before we head into the season of Epiphany!

“It’s Still Christmas” (a Holy Day Cocktail)


Recipe

Drink Base

  • .5oz Brandy
  • .5oz Jamaican Rum
  • .5oz Dry Curacao
  • .25oz Allspice Dram
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • .5oz Demerara Syrup

Drink Topping

  • 2oz Strong Earl Grey Tea
  • 2oz Steamed Oat Milk
  • 2 dashes Rose Water (optional)
  • Garnish with Grated Cinnamon and Nutmeg

Served hot. Add the spirits, bitters, and demerara syrup to a mug and stir together. Brew the Earl Grey Tea extra hot and extra strong and add 2oz of it to the mug with the spirits. In a separate container, add 2 dashes of Rose Water to the oat milk and steam it. Pour over the drink in the mug and garnish with freshly ground cinnamon and nutmeg.

* * * *

I was not raised with the Christian Church Calendar, so imagine my joy when I found out that, historically speaking, Christmas is not just a single day, but a 12-day Christian festival!

And so, to remind us all that Christmas is still going on, I bring you this cocktail–a beautiful hot drink to help us through these darkest days of the year. It is a merger of The Embassy cocktail and the fantastic “S’No Problem” by my favorite cocktail YouTuber, Anders Erickson.

The main flavor note is warm spice, with some dark funk and molasses. The first few sips catch the floral notes of rose, bergamot, and orange. But as the flavors mix, it settles into an almost chamomile flavor that calms and soothes.

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Herod’s Delusion (A Drink for the Holy Innocents)


Recipe

Pour espresso over the fig syrup. Add walnut bitters to the milk and steam it. Put four drops of Angostura on top of the foam.

* * * *

December 28th is a Christian Holy Day that reflects on the slaughter of the “Holy Innocents”–infants massacred in Bethlehem by King Herod, who was trying to kill the infant Jesus. It is an incredibly dark part of the Christmas story which we can often overlook in the midst of all the joy and pageantry of the season.

In Matthew 2, the wise men come to Herod saying they’re looking for an infant in Bethelehem who would grow up to become king (which was news to Herod). He told them to let him know when they had found this baby, but after finding Jesus they heeded the warning of a dream and left without telling Herod.

In a rage, he “killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under”, trying to kill Jesus. But Mary and Joseph had already fled.

The story brings up a lot of questions, both historical and theological–and there are no easy answers (here’s a reflection on it from my old pastor).

But the Christian Church has come to honor these infants as the first martyrs of Christianity. They died not only for Jesus, but also in his place. Augustine beautifully says, “they are the first buds of the Church killed by the frost of persecution”.

It is with a lot of these themes in mind that I offer this drink. It may seem trite and minimizing to make a latte in “honor” of such a dark event, but I find these creative and sensory experiences truly aid my own reflection. The intentionality and car that goes into the preparation involves my full self and helps me participate in this more deeply. Hopefully it does the same for you.

And the drink is full of more depth and symbolism than you might think. Bitters represent weeping. Figs are a scriptural symbol for Israel as a nation. Walnuts are an ancient symbol of fertility and children, and in Christianity they were used as an image of the Trinity (due to their layers). The Angostura drops remind us of the bloodshed on that day.

This is a warming, comforting drink in this cold season. It perfectly balances the bitter and the sweet, which is precisely what we strive to do with this story on this day.

“O Emmanuel” | Incarnation O’Fashioned


For each of the ancient “O Antiphon” prayers in this week preceding Christmas, I will be offering prayers and a variation on an Old Fashioned.

Today’s O Antiphon: “O Emmanuel”

We arrive at our final O Antiphon. Emmanuel means “God who is with us”. It is the most stunning title of them all, and represents the biggest surprise in the history of God’s healing work in the world. God did not just save us from afar, or by declaration, or by force. Instead he he came to be with us; and not just then, but also now and for eternity. That is the essence of our salvation in Christ: union with him.

Today’s Prayer & Scripture

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, Hope of the nations, and Savior of all people: come to save us, O Lord our God.

The main text is Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son and shall name him Immanuel.” For further reflection, read Matthew 1:18-25, when this text and title are applied to Jesus. You can also read the original, full lyrics to O Come, O Come, Emmanuel to see all of these O Antiphons put in beautiful poetic form.

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“O Desire of Nations” | Ambassador O’Fashioned


For each of the ancient “O Antiphon” prayers in this week preceding Christmas, I will be offering prayers and a variation on an Old Fashioned.

Today’s O Antiphon: “O Desire of Nations”

This is a beautiful Messianic title. Jesus is king not simply when it comes to authority and power, but also as the object of our desire and affections. And having a common desire is meant to unify, not divide. The prayer reminds us that God formed us for himself and we are not truly ourselves until we are in him. It also emphasizes the global nature of this People he has called he has called as his own.

Today’s Prayer & Scripture

O King of the Nations and their Desired One, the Cornerstone that makes us one: Come, and deliver us, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth.

The title here comes from an older translation of Haggai 2:7: “I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory”. For further reflection, you can read Isaiah 2:1-5 for a picture of the peace that God brings to the nations. Also read Ephesians 2:11-22 to see what this looks like on an interpersonal level when Christ is the cornerstone of our life together

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“O Dayspring” | Radiance O’Fashioned


For each of the ancient “O Antiphon” prayers in this week preceding Christmas, I will be offering prayers and a variation on an Old Fashioned.

Today’s O Antiphon: “O Dayspring” (or “Radiant Dawn” or “Dawn of the East”)

The entire premise of Advent is that we sit with the darkness of the world and our hearts, waiting with anticipation and longing for light to break through. Then, at Christmas, we joyfully celebrate that the light has come and will come again. But today, we feel the night and wait for the Radiant Dawn, tasting its light–literally. (I’m super proud of this cocktail, by the way.)

Today’s Prayer & Scripture

O Dayspring, Splendor of everlasting light and Sun of justice: come and shine on them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Isaiah 9:2: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.” All of verses 1-7 are a classic Advent text worth your time. For further reflection, read Malachi 4, the last chapter of the Old Testament, where the prophet says that “the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings”.

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“O Key of David” | Emancipation O’Fashioned


For each of the ancient “O Antiphon” prayers in this week preceding Christmas, I will be offering prayers and a variation on an Old Fashioned.

Today’s O Antiphon: “O Key of David”

Calling Jesus the “Key of David” means he perfectly fits the locks our fallen humanity and frees us. He breaks the shackles of sin and death, giving us a liberation that cannot be undone. To honor it, I’ve made a “narrative cocktail” that tells a story in how it’s made.

Today’s Prayer & Scripture

O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.

Isaiah 22:22-23: “I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open. I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his ancestral house.” Another text used today is Isaiah 42:1-9 which speaks of the Messiah’s divine and liberating power.

For further reflection, read Psalm 107, a song of thanksgiving for all the ways God saves and frees us from trouble and death. Additionally, you can search for and reflect on art that depicts “The Harrowing of Hell”, when Christ broke open the shackles of hell to free humanity from its grasp. Also, make the drink for today. It’s fantastic.

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“O Root of Jesse” | Family Tree O’Fashioned


For each of the ancient “O Antiphon” prayers in this week preceding Christmas, I will be offering prayers and a variation on an Old Fashioned.

Today’s O Antiphon: “O Root of Jesse”

Today’s antiphon title can sound strange to modern ears, but the “Root of Jesse” uses the imagery of a family tree, specifically that of the kingly line of David whose father was Jesse. Isaiah says this line will continue in the Messiah even though it seemed cut down. Today’s prayer and readings emphasize that the Messiah will spring up from this family tree even though it seemed like just a stump. He will save us, draw all people to himself, and be a King for all.

Today’s Prayer & Scripture

O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples; before you kings will shut their mouths, to you the nations will make their prayer: Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.

The text today is Isaiah 11:1 and 10: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots…On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.”

For further reflection, read Romans 15:1-13, where the apostle Paul quotes these verses to encourage the Roman church to move past racism, live in unity and peace, and to emphasize how Jesus’ way of ruling as king is in service and invitation rather than violence and division.

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“O Adonai” | Burning Bush O’Fashioned


For each of the ancient “O Antiphon” prayers in this week preceding Christmas, I will be offering prayers and a variation on an Old Fashioned.

Today’s O Antiphon is “O Adonai”.

This antiphon points back to God revealing his name to Moses at the burning bush.The Israelites thought that name (YHWH) was too holy to say out loud, so they would substitute the word “Adonai”, which is often translated as LORD in English Bibles. On this day, we reflect on God in Jesus as our Lord, ruler, and judge, longing for him to come and sets us free from the things that bind us.

Today’s Prayer & Scripture

O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the Law on Sinai: come, stretch out your mighty hand and set us free.

The text today is Isaiah 33:22: “For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our ruler; the Lord is our king; he will save us.” For further reflection, read Exodus 3, the story of God revealing himself to Moses in the burning bush. It is such a rich and mysterious text, ripe for meditation.

As we continue towards Christmas, remember that God has revealed both himself and what way of living leads to life. Let that remind us how we fall short of that in so many ways and how we need God to come and satisfy his own judgment lest we lose him altogether. End your day with prayer and a drink.

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“O Wisdom” | Wise Sage O’Fashioned


For each of the ancient “O Antiphon” prayers in this week preceding Christmas, I will be offering a variation on an Old Fashioned. We begin our “O’Fashioneds” with a pretty basic recipe, but rest assured–we have some fun ones on the way.

Today’s O Antiphon is “O Wisdom”. We reflect on Jesus as our wisdom and guide towards knowledge and prudence. He shows us the way to a rightly-ordered life, even as he orders all things “mightily and sweetly”–the same way I hope this cocktail strikes your palette.

Today’s Prayer & Scripture

O Wisdom that came forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from one end to the other and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come to teach us the way of prudence.

Today’s text is Isaiah 11:2-3: “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.” For further reflection, I’d encourage you to read and meditate on Proverbs 8, which has long been seen as hearkening towards Jesus.

May we seek to follow our Messiah’s example and receive his wisdom, understanding, and prudence. In the spirit of Advent, may we also feel our lack of that wisdom, and our utter reliance on God for it. End your day with a nightcap and this prayer as we continue our journey toward Christmas.

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Welcome to the Advent “O Antiphons” (& My “O’Fashioned” Cocktails)


Last year I learned about a series of prayers and reflection that the Church has historically used in the seven days leading up to Christmas. This is the first year I’m going to try and engage them, and I want to bring you all along. I also want to give you a bunch of cocktails to go along with them.

The “O Antiphons”

Let me introduce you to the O Antiphons, seven short Advent prayers that go back at least to the 6th-century.*

If you’ve been around religious settings during Christmas time, you’ve probably been exposed to the O Antiphons without even knowing it: the hymn “O Come O Come Emmanuel” incorporates all of them into its verses.

The O Antiphons come from the book of Isaiah, and are a series of seven titles attributed to the prophesied Messiah. Each day has a brief prayer focusing on one of these titles as a way focus our Advent longing on the God we need in Jesus. Here they are. As we get to each one, I’ll link to the post and cocktail for that day.

Yeah, there are some titles a lot of us are likely not very familiar with or know what they mean. The idea here is that you meditate on one each day in the week leading to Christmas and you pray the brief antiphon during evening prayers as a way to add focus.

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The Black Advent (a Holy Day Cocktail)


Recipe

  • 1oz Black Rum
  • 1oz Brandy
  • 1oz Averna
  • 2 dashes Chocolate Bitters
  • 2 dashes Citrus Bitters
  • 1/4tsp Fernet Branca

Stir with ice, and strain neat into a rocks glass. Garnish with two cherries and add some of the juice into glass as well.

* * * *

I have been crafting cocktails for Holy Days and seasons for a little bit now, inspired by Michael P. Foley’s amazing Drinking with the Saints, and I’m going to start posting them on the blog.

We begin the Church Calendar with this drink, “The Black Advent”. You would think that celebrating the same seasons every year could get old and dry, but I find each year brings out specific themes and emphases.

This year, it has felt like the pastors and theologians have really emphasized the darkness aspect of Advent–the need to really sit in contemplation, grief, and longing before we get to the joy of Christmas.

For that reason, this year’s Advent cocktail is one for the darkness. It’s a stirred drink served neat (no ice), so that you can sip it’s silky texture for a long while. This isn’t a super boozy drink. It is smooth, dark, and a little sweet.You could easily turn down the sweetness and still have a great drink. It has notes of chocolate, orange peel, and mint.

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