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Book Review: Drinking with Your Patron Saints

Drinking with Your Patron Saints: The Sinner’s Guide to Honoring Namesakes and Protectors
Dr. Michael P. Foley
Regnery History, 2020
256 Pages
$12.99 Kindle; $15.29 Hardcover

Dr. Michael P. Foley is a man on a mission. Or rather, a man with a mixer and a mission. He knows that one cannot always be translating Patristics or researching the liturgical calendar (both of which he does with consummate grace and insight). There comes a time in the day or the week when one must put down the weapons of work and take up the tumbler of tranquility.

Drinking with Your Patron Saints: The Sinner’s Guide to Honoring Namesakes and Protectors is not the giant tome, in dimensions or thickness, that the original Drinking with the Saints book was. Like its companion successor, Drinking with Saint Nick, it’s a handy 250-page little hardcover that fits nicely in a spare nook, where no homeschooling children will ever find it. But it continues the noble program of mingling creative drink recipes and suggestions with expertly-selected historical and theological nuggets, this time about patron saints.

The world of patron saints is indeed broad and deep: as Dr. Foley admits, there are patrons of everything, from the sublime to the ridiculous. You name it, there’s probably a patron you can pray to for help in doing it (or, very importantly, for help in avoiding it). It’s also a longstanding custom to celebrate one’s “name day” (onomastico in Italian), and this book equips the reader to do just that, with flair and, one sincerely hopes, without fatal injury to sobriety.

Foley’s new escapade features hundreds of beer, wine, and liquor recommendations, and 109 delicious cocktail recipes, including 11 new cocktails invented just for this book: A Drink for All Seasons; Bridge Builder; Do Come Round; Double Down; Leg Up; Me a Mexican Cowboy; Sink or Swim #2; Snow Top Lady; The Old Souls’ Old Fashioned; Truly Crossed; and—my favorite in the groanworthy pun category—Aperol is Said and Done.

In my admittedly selective experience with the recipes of these three books—after all, it would be nearly a full-time job to try all of them, like those French specialists who sample every sort of wine or test new perfumes all day long—Drinking with Your Patron Saints marks an improvement over the original (first) book in that the cocktail recipes seem to be at a consistently higher level of quality. The newly revamped “Absinthe-Minded Martini” for St. Thomas Aquinas is much better than the original “Fat Friar” Foley had for him, and the same can be said for the entries on St. Anthony and St. Thomas More. One might say that the book is evidence of progress in a straight line, a feat its users should be careful to emulate by their moderate exploitation of its contents.

The 98 saints featured, from Adam to Zita, plus the Blessed Virgin Mary under 12 different titles (including unusual titles such as Our Lady of Copacabana), will impart new knowledge even to the most earnest devotees of Jacobus da Voragine’s Golden Legend or Butler’s Lives in its more edifying original edition, a favorite among homeschoolers skeptical of the skeptical Herbert Thurston, S.J. (Note to reader: do not confuse this Jesuit with Thurston Howell III of Gilligan’s Island. Come to think of it, the name “Thurston” would have made an admirable choice of pen-name had Dr. Foley decided that his leisure pursuits had to be disguised.)

A whopping 708 causes for patronage—occupations, hobbies, activities, problems, and places—are discussed. Users of this book will discover who the patron saints are for cyclists, bikers, computer programmers, entrepreneurs, medical professionals, lawyers, and woodworkers. They will find out who to turn to in order to ward off mice, grasshoppers, thyroid problems, and pirates. In 2020, one never knows.

Foley goes beyond mere recycling of past patronages and suggests 57 new or updated ones. Saint Expeditus, already the patron saint of financial problems and procrastination, is proposed as the patron saint of credit card users; Saint Patrick as patron saint of surfers and water skiers because he miraculously helped a leper cruise on a floating altar stone behind a moving ship; St. John the Baptist as patron saint of “lumbersexuals” because they share the same barber (St. John is also an ideal patron for teetotalers because he was one!); St. John Mary Vianney as patron of Southern Baptists because he preached against drinking and dancing; and St. Joan of Arc as patron of scavenger hunts because she miraculously found a buried sword. The book appeared prior to the wave of riots and statue-toppling, otherwise we can be sure Foley would have found the most appropriate patrons to invoke against these evils, too.

As usual, the recipes are dashing (many involve dashes, for that matter), daring, intriguing, and cleverly named. The toasts are well scripted, and the message always upbeat. Highly, but not dryly, recommended.

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