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…