Razing Hell Espresso Martini | a Holy Saturday cocktail


  • 1.5 oz Smoky Lenten Bourbon
  • 1.5 oz Espresso or Cold Brew Concentrate
  • .75 oz Coffee Liqueur
  • .25 oz Demerara Syrup
  • Garnish: 4 drops Angostura
  • Rim: Cocoa Bitters and 1/8-1/4 tsp each of Salt, Smoked Paprika, Cayenne Pepper based on spice preference.

Wet the rim of your coupe or martini glass with cocoa bitters and dip it in the spice mix to coat. Place in freezer to chill. Shake all other ingredients (except Angostura) with ice and fine strain into the chilled glass. In the foam of the drink, add 4-5 drops of Angostura bitters and use a toothpick to “draw” them into the shape of a cross.

View other Holy Day cocktails.

* * * *

It’s Holy Saturday, the final day of Lent. During this past Holy Week, I’ve needed to find various ways to say “man, a lot happened on this day”. Not so today. Here is the entirety of what the Bible says about Jesus and his disciples this day:

On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment. (Lk 23:56b)

That’s it. This vacuum has invited a lot of theological speculation on just what might have been happening in the time between Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Most of Christian history has answered this question with some version of what’s called “The Harrowing of Hell“, based largely on an odd verse in 1 Peter 4 about Jesus preaching the gospel “even to the dead” and captured in the Apostle’s Creed when it says Jesus “descended to the dead”.

Different versions are more or less literal about it, but at the very least, this means that whatever “hell” is, Jesus endured it on behalf of those who never will. And in so doing it, he conquered it in some way, de-fanging it of its power and authority. He harrowed it, razed it–overcame it.

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Good Friday | a cocktail


  • 1.5 oz Lillet Blanc
  • .75 oz Dry Gin
  • .25 oz St. Germain
  • .25 oz White Vinegar
  • 2 dashes Celery Bitters
  • .25 oz Gentian Amaro or Aperol (float)
  • Garnish: cherry

Add all ingredients (except the Gentian spirit) to a mixing glass with ice. Stir until chilled. Strain into chilled coupe. Add the Gentian Amaro (or Aperol). Garnish with a cherry on a cocktail pick, letting its syrup drip into the glass.

View other Holy Day cocktails.

* * * *

Today is Good Friday, the day on which Jesus faced an unjust Roman trial, was crucified, and even experienced the forsaking of God. It is a violent, unjust, and sad day, only made “good” by subsequent events.

Good Friday is our salvation. It is the moment God himself entered into the greatest fear and consequence of sin and human frailty. It is God’s answer to the suffering of the world: not giving an answer for why it exists, but experiencing it himself and conquering it.

It is bittersweet. It is an unexpected coronation and enthroning over the world and its authorities by letting them do their worst and yet still be beaten.

My first instinct for a Good Friday cocktail would be a dark, smoky, and bitter whiskey drink. But as I reflected on it more, I went in another direction.

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Triduum | a Holy Weekend cocktail


  • 1 oz Whiskey
  • 1 oz Cognac or Brandy
  • .5 oz Gentian Amaro
  • .5 oz Green Chartreuse
  • 2 dashes Salt & Smoke Bitters
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters
  • Garnish: 3 Olives

Strain all ingredients in mixing glass until very chilled and extra diluted (45-60 seconds). Strain into a chalice, wine glass, or coupe. Garnish with three olives on a cocktail pick.

View other Holy Day cocktails.

* * * *

I’ve been doing one cocktail for each day of Holy Week, but the three days starting with Maundy Thursday are there own special holiday, called the Paschal Triduum (the “three” days are from Thursday night to Easter morning). So I’m offering a bonus cocktail for this weekend.

This drink is boozy with an herbal sweetness, with a touch of sweetness.

Similar to my Maundy Thursday cocktail, the whiskey and cognac/brandy are for the bread and wine of Thursday. The smoke and amaro are for the darkness and blood of Friday. The chartreuse hearkens burial herbs and the quiet, restful devotion of the monks who still make it to this day. The orange bitters hint at the Easter brightness to come.

The three olives are for each day of the Triduum. They also remind us of the Mount of Olives, as well as the saltiness of tears in both the Passover meal and crucifixion witnesses.

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Body & Blood | A Maundy Thursday Cocktail


  • 2 oz Red wine
  • 2 oz Wheat (or Rye) Whiskey
  • .25 oz Orange Curacao
  • .75 oz Ube Syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters
  • .5 oz Water
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • Olive garnish

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass without ice and stir well to incorporate everything. Pour into a wine glass and at serve room temperature. Garnish with a single olive.

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* * * *

Today is Maundy Thursday, one of the fullest, strangest, and most complicated days of Holy Week. So here is a cocktail to match.

A lot happens on this day: Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, the Passover meal and first Communion, his farewell address (also called the “High Priestly Prayer“), his prayers in Gethsemane, the arrest, and his late-night trial before the Jewish authorities.

It’s an emotional roller coaster of a day. There is joy, singing, praying, accusation, defensiveness, injustice, and emotions so intense Jesus sweats blood. There is also a random naked guy running through Gethsemane that scholars have no idea what to make of.

While honoring the events of the day, I’ve tried to craft a cocktail that captures this sense of confusion, contrasts, and upended expectations. And I think this drink does exactly that.

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Bitter Betrayal | A Holy Wednesday Cocktail


  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Montenegro Amaro
  • 1 oz Fernet Branca
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters
  • 1 small ice cube (yes, it’s an ingredient)

Add all spirits into a small glass. Add one small ice cube and swirl until it is mostly melted. Enjoy.

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* * * *

I am doing a cocktail for each day of Holy Week based on the events that happened on those days. Today’s cocktail is really obvious, incredibly straightforward, and very, very good.

Holy Wednesday is the day that Judas betrayed Jesus. It’s a strange event in the gospels, with hardly any details. We don’t know Judas’ motives, why he was paid the amount he was, or the events leading to his betrayal.

The only details we get are that Jesus saw it coming, and the gospel writers saw this as one of the purest acts of evil and betrayal that’s ever been done.

So today’s cocktail tries to capture the bitterness of this betrayal–bitterness so great that it even ate away at Judas himself to the point of suicide.

So for this drink, I simply got the three bitterest ingredients I have, and threw them together with some orange bitters. And I am shocked how well it all came together.

The resulting drink is dark and complex, with both an herbal and fruit bitterness, and a bright pop of citrus and hint of mint. It is brash and subtle, all at once.

You will either love or hate this drink.

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Lent-Infused Bourbon | a Holy Tuesday spirit


  • 12 oz (half a bottle) High Proof Bourbon
  • 3 tsp Lapsang Souchong Tea
  • 1 tbsp White sugar
  • .25-.5 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 large Orange Wheel, halved

Add all ingredients to a 16oz airtight mason jar. Shake and let sit in a cool, dry place. Shake it once or twice every day. Start tasting after day 3. Once you like the taste, you can strain the solids if you want. After day 5 or so, the taste won’t change and it’s fine to keep everything in the jar if you want.

View other Holy Day cocktails.

* * * *

We continue our Holy week cocktails with something a little different for Holy Tuesday–a liquor infusion!

This recipe makes a high proof bourbon that is very smoky, with a touch of citrus and sweetness that really gives a lot of complexity, perfect for Lenten reflection whether you drink it straight or in a cocktail (it makes an amazing Old Fashioned).

On Holy Monday, Jesus went into the temple and overturned tables, clearing out money changers. This surely was disruptive and provocative, so what does he do on Tuesday? Return to the temple and spend the day debating the religious leaders on a huge range of topics.

Jesus exposes the priests and teachers as hypocrites before the common people, announces God’s rejection of them, and even prophesies the destruction of the very temple in which they are arguing. And at the end of it all, God in Jesus has been fully and finally rejected by the religious institution and its leaders. The stage is set, and they prepare to kill him.

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“Though the Fig Tree Not Blossom…” | A Holy Monday Cocktail


  • 2 oz Brandy
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • .75 oz Fig Syrup
  • .5 tsp Rose Water
  • 1 Egg White

Add all ingredients to a shaker without ice. Shake vigorously for 30-45 seconds. Add ice and shake again for 10-15 seconds. Double strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with flower petals.

View other Holy Day cocktails.

* * * *

Thursday through Sunday get all the attention in Holy Week, but significant and symbolic things also happened on the other weekdays. So I’m making a cocktail for each one.

On Monday morning, while on his way to the Jerusalem Temple, Jesus is hungry and sees a fig tree with leaves on it, so it should have fruit he can eat. This one does not. It’s also not the season for the tree to have leaves in the first place.

Jesus sees in the tree a symbol of the Temple itself. It has the outward appearance of bearing fruit but is barren, and it does not know its season. Likewise, the temple has become a place of commerce and routine, not realizing that now is the time of the Messiah.

God in Jesus is rejected by creation itself and his very temple, where the worship and prayer of his people ought to be. So Jesus curses this fig tree and clears out the money-changers in the Temple.

This cocktail tries to capture some of these themes. Its name comes from Habakkuk 3: “Though the fig tree does not blossom and no fruit is on the vines…yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation.”

The grape brandy and soft texture hearken to the wine and solemnity of the temple, and the drink’s flavor is like a fig tree in bloom. But all this is–literally–soured by the lemon juice. It’s an unexpected drink that confuses the senses as you discern the flavors and the balance.

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Palm Sunday Cocktail


  • 2 oz Light Rum
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • .75 oz Toasted Coconut Syrup
  • .75 tsp Pandan Extract
  • 2 dashes Grapefruit Bitters
  • 2 dashes Rhubarb Bitters
  • .25 oz Jamaican Rum float (optional)

Add all ingredients (except the Jamaican rum) to a shaker. Add ice and shake. Free pour all contents into a glass and top with the remaining rum. Add a straw and garnish with pineapple or palm fronds.

View other Holy Day cocktails.

* * * *

It’s Holy Week, the most important and consequential seven days in all of human history, when Jesus suffered, died, and was raised. Each of these days carries significance, so I’m crafting a cocktail for each one.

But it all begins on Palm Sunday: a strange day full of hope, expectation, worship, and joy (and quite a bit of human misunderstanding). Lent is a season of brooding and fasting, but because Sundays are still feast days (and because of palms, of course) we’re doing a tiki drink!

On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem in a way that symbolized to the Jewish people that he was their long-awaited king coming to rescue them from their exile.

The people come out and lay their coats and palm leaves on the road, ushering Jesus with fevered excitement and joy. However, while they thought he was coming as a violent, political, conquering king, he instead intended to save them from an even deeper spiritual exile.

I tried to capture these contrasts in this drink. It is a riff on a daiquiri, and is bright, refreshing, and tart, with multiple fruit bitters for complexity. However through the middle of it are these deep, heavier notes of toasted coconut and pandan. It’s a fantastic drink.

Blessed is he who drinks in the name of the Lord. Cheers!

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Suffering: A Family Affair | James 1.2-3

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face various trials, consider it all joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
James 1.2-3

These verses are so rich, it’s going to take more than one post to mine their treasures. A flattened, cursory reading can sound very callous and insensitive to the lived experience of human suffering. However, I think there is a nuanced, sensitive perspective here that deserves sitting with a bit.

“brothers and sisters…”

James knows he is going to say tough things, so he uses this intimate term on the outset. He doesn’t say “children” holding himself above those going through trials, but uses this familial term for peers under the same authority. This shows that no one–not even an apostle, not even the brother of Jesus–is above suffering and trials.

It also reminds us that this letter is not to individuals, but a community. This is a huge key to these verses (and the whole book). The encouragement to “consider it all joy” when we face trials can seem at least insensitive, if not outright abusive, apart from this context.

Suffering should be a community effort. We ought to be close enough to others that we hurt when our spiritual family members hurt. We share the burden to live this verse out. In suffering, not everyone will have the wherewithal to follow all these encouragements, so others step in and make up for what we lack in a given moment.

Others can keep hope on our behalf when we feel hopeless. They can recognize the resilience and endurance growing within us when we have no more to give. They can maintain faith in God’s goodness while we doubt God is there at all. These words are meant to mark a community at all times, not individuals at all times.

Note here that the brother of Jesus calls us his siblings, showing the unity we have as the singular body of Christ. James knows that spiritual family is deeper and more defining than natural, biological family. Blood may be thicker than water, but spirit is thicker still.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Christianities: A Roadblock to Faith?

This is part of our youth group Lent and Easter series “Roadblocks and Reasons”, where we discussed Christian belief, the things that make it more difficult, and reasons that can sustain us.

How do we process the diversity of views within Christianity? How can something that claims to be “the” universal truth have so many divisions? What even is Christianity if it changes so frequently?

I think 1 Corinthians has the answer, and here it is:

Different “versions” of Christianity can exist, even with profound disagreements, because there is a “core” to Christianity that is consistent across groups, cultures, language, time, and space. What matters is that we cling to the Resurrection and love each other in spite of those differences.

Let’s see how Paul argues this. (Here’s a deeper dive on the book to show my work.)

1 Corinthians in a nutshell

The letter is written by Paul to a church in chaos, full of deep, substantive divisions around religious teachers, styles, and even different beliefs and practices. (1:10-13).

When Paul lists these group identities, I think we can mentally substitute different Christian denominations, like Catholics, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, or Progressive Christians. It’s not an exact comparison, but it can help us get in the right mindset.

If you were Paul, how would you go about addressing such division? For me, I’d probably tell them which faction is more right or which beliefs are most correct. I may tell them disagreement on these things denies our unity in Christ and embarrasses the faith. Others may even be tempted to propose a more watered-down faith that may be more agreeable, but gives little reason to actually believe it.

But Paul does none of that.

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Roadblocks & Reasons: A Life Update & New Series

In 2017, I had finished my Masters of Divinity and was preaching, teaching, and leading things at my church on a path towards ordination in my denomination. Some personal crises hit and I stepped back from ministry work to heal, grow, and (hopefully) mature on a number of fronts.

After years of therapy and spiritual direction, a global pandemic, and a church merger (and getting married!), I am stepping back into some ministry work, albeit in a way I never expected: youth ministry.

After some discernment and consideration, I’m now the Interim Youth Director at my church.

When I was initially asked, I admit: it was out of left field. I had never seen myself as the “youth pastor” type, or at least the usual stereotype of the adult man-child with lingering frat boy partier energy, or middle-aged men cosplaying as such. (I know that’s incredibly unfair and not characteristic of the vast majority of youth leaders out there, but it is a type.)

More substantively, I am not the kind of person that has any interest in making Christian faith more palatable, less complicated, or easier. I love making its complexity more comprehensible, but not simplified or “easier”, as if that makes youth more likely to maintain their faith. In fact, I’ve seen the opposite. The less complex and flexible your faith, the more brittle, anxious, and fragile it becomes.

(You can probably already see where this is going.)

The longer I took this train of thought, I felt more and more excitement about cultivating this in youth, how important that mindset and ministry could be, and how well suited I actually was for it.

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Ash Wednesday Cocktail


  • .75oz Mezcal
  • .75oz Peated Scotch
  • .75oz Aperol
  • 5 dashes Orange Bitters
  • 2 dashes Smoke and Salt Bitters

Build drink in an old fashioned glass over a large ice cube. Stir all ingredients. No garnish.

* * * *

With a new church season, we have a new cocktail. This one is named after Ash Wednesday, the holy day that begins Lent.

Lent is a season of fasting, reflection, and repentance. We focus on our mortality, our sins, and the darkness in the world that led Jesus to the Cross.

Ash Wednesday specifically is a time that Christians have crosses drawn on their foreheads in ash as an outward sign of their internal awareness of their death and sins. It is reflective, somber, simple, elemental, and dark.

With that in mind, I crafted this cocktail, which is strong, dark, and smoky with a subtle bittersweetness underneath it all. It really is meditative and lovely, while also packing a real punch.

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Systematizing the “Right” Way to Grieve

When I watched my grandfather die, the weirdest thing to me was that I had no idea what to feel or how to respond. Humans have been dealing with death for hundreds of thousands of years and we still are paralyzed by it. We click into any number of different responses ranging from shutting down to explosively acting out.

For my current class on caring for those at the end of their life, we went over some theoretical models for grieving and bereavement. Going through the history, it was fascinating just how desperately humans have wanted a framework for how we respond to death and dying.

Part of the problem is this: how do you define “successful” or “healthy” grief? Moving on with life while living a joyful, grateful existence full of robust social connections? I think most would agree that’s a good picture of it. But the real difficulty when you’re sitting in front of a grieving person (or are going through it yourself) is: how do we get to that place?

I think many of us believe that you really need to feel the sadness, stare it in the face, deal with it, process it, sit in it for a time. But why? My gut thinks that’s the way it should go, but the research says otherwise.

Plenty of people go through a huge loss, feel a twinge of sadness, and then get up the next morning and move on with life, with no discernible negative impact on the rest of their life or relationships. When people aren’t actively in emotional distress, there is little evidence that forcing someone to do “grief work” is actually helpful.

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When Death and I have met

I’m currently in a class on caring for those at the End-of-Life. At the beginning of this course, we were given an assignment (which you can do yourself) to give us a baseline as to our feelings and experiences around death and dying, and begin cultivating an awareness of how we cope with it.

I thought I had a good sense of my relation to death in my life, but this really clarified and confronted me in some profound ways. I saw just how unacquainted I am with death, and struggled to recall times it had entered my life.

The first death I knew of was my great-grandmother, with whom I had an oddly strong connection. But I was 10 or 11 at the time and heard about it from my mom, I think, while we sat in the car in our driveway. I remember numbness and confusion, not really knowing how I was supposed to feel. I felt solace in how religious she was, and I felt a responsibility to carry on her “legacy”.

But still, we did not return from Virginia to Texas for her funeral. This meant that my first funeral for a little boy at my church who had drowned. I was maybe 14 at the time. I did not know him, nor his family, and had no connection with them other than we went to the same large church. I went more out of curiosity and was confused at how detached I felt.

My biggest acquaintance with death was that of my grandfather. It was the first dead body I saw, and I was present for the hospice care and process of dying and grief over the course of a couple of weeks or so. But I will have more to say about this death another time.

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