Cheers to a Holy Happy Hour

Food and drink are central to the Catholic faith, and yet I find it challenging to appreciate the richness of this relationship in my daily life. This is where Michael Foley’s book enters the picture.

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By Sofia Infante

When I was an undergraduate, the on-campus Catholic newspaper I wrote for featured a short blurb on the saint of the month. Alongside it, a drink suggestion was included from Michael Foley’s popular book, Drinking with the Saints: The Saints Guide to a Holy Happy Hour. It had become a custom to hurriedly sift through the pages at the last minute as we tried to find a particular saint’s appointed drink. Needless to say, I never sat down and carefully looked through the pages. That is, until I was gifted this wonderful book last Christmas.

Food and drink are central to the Catholic faith, and yet I find it challenging to appreciate the richness of this relationship in my daily life. This is where Michael Foley’s book enters the picture. Weighing about the same as a Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, Drinking with the Saints is just as informative but considerably more entertaining. This creative and deeply amusing catalog of Catholic saint’s drinks is laden with over 350 recipes and cocktail suggestions based on the liturgical season. Tips and tricks for how to celebrate, with comical and relevant toasts abound. Foley’s book marries faith and drink into an equal parts instructive and enjoyable experience.

Wit and irony are in no short order; I found myself chuckling at the tongue-in-cheek names given to many of the drinks. For example, St. Augustine of Hippo’s respective cocktails are none other than Lusty Cauldron: a fruity and heady blend of bourbon, pear liqueur, and bitters; and Lady Continence is a medley of fig vodka, a dash of lemon juice, and simple syrup. As for the proper time to partake of each? Foley encourages us to consume Lusty Cauldron on the vigil of St. Augustine's feast day and to enjoy Lady Continence on August 28.

 The Benedictine Option (Photo: Michael Foley)

The Benedictine Option (Photo: Michael Foley)

The book’s humor and resourcefulness is as gratifying (and, at times, unexpected) as its cocktail recipes. Nonetheless, the relationship between alcohol and the Church really shouldn’t be so surprising. This bond spans many centuries, lest I forget that my introduction to the Carthusian Order was by way of their Chartreuse. This verdant French liqueur, which includes 130 hand-picked Alpine herbs and flowers, is produced by the monks in the secluded monastery in the French Alps. To this day, their secret 400-year-old recipe is faithfully safeguarded. The founder’s drink, fittingly named St. Bruno’s delight, conserves the distinctive flavor of Chartreuse by adding 2 oz. gin and a dash of lemon juice.

Some drinks may have their origins in a silent and reclusive order, but Foley’s book illustrates that they are best enjoyed in community. Its website even offers a how-to guide for incorporating it into a catechetical course, Catholic couple’s night, or any event that seeks growing knowledge of the communion of saints.