Booze, Marcus Grodi and a demented Beagle

I’m feeling a bit blue today–still trying to get over a very heavy cold that knocked me out for five days last week. So I noted on Facebook that a glass of bourbon would probably be a very good medicine. The status elicited this comment from my friend Marcus Grodi:

Actually, if you are a American Catholic, you need to relax with Basil Hayden bourbon. Note that the bottle states that this single batch Kentucky bourbon is made from the recipe of Basil Hayden dating back to 1797. Then note that the first wave of Catholic settlers from Maryland to Kentucky in 1780s was led by none other than Basil Hayden! This is more Catholic than most Irish Whiskeys! The manufacturer doesnt admit this, but then again most Kentucky bourbon drinkers may not be Catholic. but enjoy anyway!

In future I will make this the Bourbon of choice.

Very grateful for Marcus’ bit of Catholic alcohol history, I can’t stop without recommending John Zmirak’s excellent volume, The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Wine, Whiskey and Song.  This very amusing book begins with Absinthe and ends with Zinfandel. My friend Zmirak (who I love because he is the only person who has a weirder last name than I do) writes like a hyperactive demented beagle who’s been to Yale. The book is full of Catholic lore, amazing details about alcoholic beverages, some fancy recipes and some drinking songs.

My own contribution which I think matches Marcus’ anecdote and would fit into John’s book is why you should choose Gilbey’s Gin above all other. You see Monsignor Alfred Newman Gilbey (read his obituary here) was an eccentric aristocratic English priest whose family fortune came from the manufacture of the gin that bears their name. Monsignor Gilbey had been chaplain at Cambridge for many years and was firmly of the traditionalist camp. He faithfully wore a frock coat and shovel hat and was not shy about wearing the full regalia of the monsignor. He was a well known figure in Catholic aristocratic circles being the last of a dying breed when he died in 1998. His father was  a convert and Monsignor Gilbey always had a soft spot for converts and left a considerable amount of money to the Converts’ Aid Society in England (which was renamed the St Barnabas Society). I worked for the St Barnabas Society for seven years and they were always very helpful to us–including some generous assistance when we moved to America to be ordained.

Therefore, please always drink Basil Hayden bourbon and Gilbey’s gin…

  • Augustine

    I love beer and wine. I have no problem finding excellent German beers for little more than domestic beers. However, wine is another matter.

    In spite of my taste for wine, red wines can give me bad headaches. After some research, I found that it’s primarily red wine that may cause headaches because of the tannins in the grape peel. Some red wines have little tannins, like Pinot Noir and Sangiovese. The later type of grape explains why Chianti is my favorite wine, for typically most of the grape used in a bottle of Chianti is Sangiovese. I can drink white wines without much ado though.

    It’s hard to go wrong with Californian wines, but in my experience European wines can be more rewarding. My only beef is with French wines, that can be very good, particularly those from the Medoc, but they’re pricey and not always the best, so not worth the risk to an amateur like me.

    But wine is usually the drink of choice at the dinner table. And children are welcome to it, a little sip or diluted, of course. I just don’t get the relaxing with alcohol. I enjoy drinking with friends for the time spent with them and the conversation. The idea of drinking alone to get a buzz is repulsive to me.

    • Augustine

      And evidently nothing could be more Catholic than beer and wine: one has been made by religious communities for centuries, the other has followed the missions all over the world, since, without wine, there is no Mass.

  • FrJBS

    I think I’d like to visit you and some other blogging priests someday, but sadly, I only drink tea and Sprite, while you all seem more advanced in your thirsts.

  • FW Ken

    For weird last names, come to Texas, especially central Texas. The prayers of the people take a degree in linguistics.

  • Mary E.

    Cool, another bit of Maryland’s Catholic history that I didn’t previously know. I’ll have to keep an eye out for mentions of Basil Hayden.

  • Skip Olson

    Living about an hour away from their distillery, Basil Hayden’s been on my top bourbon short-list for quite a while. And my mom ONLY bought Gilbey’s.

  • Chris Field

    Forgive me Father. I prefer German beer.

  • Laura Page

    Father, you and Marcus (both Yankees!) may have all the Bourbon you like. I’m a Tennessean and I’ll stick with Jack Daniels, thank you kindly. The triple-filtering of Tennessee whisky (or whiskey, if you prefer) yields a smoother sip, and since it’s meant to be consumed neat, that can make a big difference. Reverend Jack (yes, he was a preacher) may not have been a Catholic, but he surely could run a still!