We were hosting some new friends for dinner a few weeks back. As I prepared various drinks, the husband watched in a mix of reverie and amazement. He’d enjoyed cocktails back in college and his early 20’s – he even had a shot at bartending – but hadn’t really thought to enjoy a cocktail in years. For him, cocktails belonged to an earlier period in his life. That a responsible, respectable husband and father (let alone pastor) could enjoy cocktails and be proficient at serving them was something he hadn’t really considered before then. I suspect he may not be alone.
For many people, the university experience in the early 20’s (these days all of the 20’s, perhaps, and into the 30’s) has become a vastly extended childhood. Play with fun things, whether that means alcohol or drugs or sex and pornography or what have you. In a culture where personal responsibility is less frequently taught and even more rarely modeled, I suppose we shouldn’t expect otherwise. Tragically for many, alcohol is part of this playground, not simply in terms of enjoying a flavor but drinking with the express intent of getting drunk.
To be unable or unwilling to disassociate an alcoholic beverage with this culture of excess and personal irresponsibility is to fundamentally misunderstand the goodness of God the Father in creation. God the Father provides us with a plethora of wonderful things in this world – including grapes and grain and fruit and sugars and water – which we in our sinfulness sometimes turn to inappropriate ends. But the fact that alcohol can be misused does not mean it always is. I had a rather traumatic go-around with a former parishioner on this issue several years ago, which is why I stepped away from the bar here at JW for a while. I’m happy to share that story, maybe another time.
So, if you’re reading this – or any of my columns – with the express hope of learning a new way to get drunk, stop reading and stop drinking until you get some things figured out. For those of us who have benefitted from a few (or more than a few) years of age and maturity (hopefully), and who recognize it is not only possible but actually our duty to enjoy God’s good gifts to us in creation responsibly, then read on.
So, about shots. Maybe we can talk about them, instead, as smaller-scale tasting opportunities? That certainly sounds more mature. These tasting opportunities might be served in a shot glass or they might be served in a small glass with ice. Either way, there’s nothing that says you have to drink it all in one go (shot). Frankly, because these are quality drinks in their own right rather than dollar Jager-bombs, you should encourage your guests not to down them in one gulp. You can sip a small quantity as easy as you can a large quantity. In fact, sometimes because of the intensity of flavors, it is better to have less than more. Either of the drinks below could easily be served as a dessert!
Nuts & Berrries
- 1 part Frangelico
- 1 part Chambord
- 1 part cream or whole milk
Shake the ingredients with ice in a shaker until slightly frothy. Pour into a rocks glass over ice. If you have a fresh raspberry to garnish it with it’s a nice touch!
Frangelico is flavored primarily from hazelnuts and clocks in at 20% alcohol (40-proof), with a light caramel coloring. The bottle is distinctive as it looks like a stylized Franciscan monk. Chambord is made from red and black raspberries and is about 16% alcohol. Other than the fact this drink is served cold, it strikes me as a great winter drink both in coloration and flavor. It’s very sweet and, thanks to the cream, also rich. It is perfect as a small after-dinner drink, served with appetizers or, as noted above, as a dessert in itself. It tastes exactly like a pleasant combination of nuts and berries in cream.
- 1 part Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey
- 1 part Chambord
Shake the two ingredients together with ice. Strain either into a shot glass or over ice in a rocks glass. Skrewball is a deliciously sweet peanut-infused whiskey. It is 35% alcohol and please, if you’re expecting this to taste very much like whiskey, you’re definitely going to be disappointed! It tastes mostly like sweet peanut butter. Let it be what it is. I’d encourage you to get Skrewball; I’ve had one knock-off brand that was nowhere near as smooth. There are other cocktails with the name PB&J but the ingredients are remarkably different. I’m claiming this as my own creation.
You can make most any cocktail into a shot-sized version. Just make a regular-sized cocktail and then pour off a small amount for someone who wants to taste. Please remember, because of the higher alcohol content, a small glass, shot, or even a swallow can pack a wallop, so avoid combining them too rapidly in succession and in too great a quantity. Do your job as a responsible bartender as well as a brother or sister in Christ. Give thanks together, but don’t abuse.