Michael Foley on Religion and Booze
Date: May 3rd, 2015

How do you take your religion — straight up or on the rocks?  Either way, it is time to get your drink on with this out-of-the-ordinary podcast.  We talk with Prof. Michael P. Foley of Baylor University’s Great Texts Program about his new book Drinking with the Saints: A Sinner’s Guide to a Holy Happy Hour.  We cover a wide range of topics from the history of alcohol in the Bible to some brand new cocktail recipes.  This interview is filled with fun facts, spiritual insights, and a wide variety of other surprises, a perfect pairing with whatever you might be drinking at the moment!  (Visit our Facebook page for a few of Prof. Foley’s original recipes.)

We begin by asking Prof. Foley how he came to write such a book and he shares how alcohol when consumed in moderation can be a very pleasing experience and is often associated with great fellowship.  Michael cautions us that this is not a book on debauchery, but rather is a way to savor the fine things in life and learn about the connection between alcohol and religion.  He jumps into a number of “fun facts” about this relationship, noting how alcohol was rather important in bygone eras because it was an important alternative to drinking water that often contained many pathogens.  He then reviews some of the places where alcohol can be found in The Bible, starting in the Old Testament with Noah.  Fan of bar trivia will be thrilled with a number of other interesting references he makes between religion and booze throughout the ages, including the role of Trapist monks in brewing beer, Irish missionaries and their introduction of whiskey to Scotland, a magical liqueur, and the story of how one member of the clergy announced his invention of champagne.   Tony becomes dismayed by the lack of rum in religious history, but his faith is rekindled by a mention of a “Mexican eggnog” (rompope).

A quote from G.K. Chesterton helps to transition us to a brief discussion on Prohibition, and Prof. Foley discusses why this movement may have become to be associated with evangelical religion, and possibly a few anti-Catholic sentiments.  From that point, we move to the alcohols of the liturgical calendar.  Starting with Advent, working through Christmas and then through Easter, we cover some of the favorite adult beverages associated with these celebrations.  Along the way, we learn a bit about Fat Tuesday and Lent, and how abstaining from alcohol was not necessarily the historical thing to give up during the latter religious season.  Indeed, Michael tells the story of how beer — particularly a dopplebock — became connected to Lent given its “nutritional” qualities.  We learn about a more contemporary experiment in getting through Lent on beer, and beer alone.  Easter and the Pentecost, we discover, are not particularly associated with any specific drink.

Next, we take a look at how some saints have been affiliated with certain drinks and, with a tip of the hat to RoR regular guest Brian O’Neel, we review some of the Catholic saints of May.  It is at this point where Michael begins to reveal some of his own personal recipes that can be found in his book, several of which are named after saints.  He explains how he came about choosing the ingredients of these drinks based upon the lives of these religious personalities.  Moreover, Tony learns the difference between a mixed drink and a cocktail, and the rules that differentiate them.  Michael also shares his fondness for shaking cocktails, as opposed to stirring, and why chards of chipped ice add to the pleasure of various beverages.  Listen to his secret recipes or visit us at Facebook for the ingredient list, perhaps taking a sip or two while listening to this podcast!

Our interview finishes off with some final reflections about what Michael has learned from his process of researching and writing this book.   Recorded: April 20, 2015.


 Michael Foley’s bio at his eponymous website and at Baylor University.

Drinking with the Saints website (with a blog, Instagram, and other cool stuff).

Drinking with the Saints: The Sinner’s Guide to Holy Happy Hour, by Michael P. Foley (at Amazon.com)

Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Friday?: The Catholic Origin to Just About Everything, by Michael P. Foley.

Wedding Rites: The Complete Guide to Traditional Vows, Music, Ceremonies, Blessings, and Interfaith Services, by Michael P. Foley.

Confessions, by St. Augustine (with commentary by Michael P. Foley).


Brian O’Neel on the Saints of February.

Brian O’Neel on the Saints of January.

Brian O’Neel on Saint Who? Some Holy Unknowns.


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