Remember when you said I should write a Mennonite cocktail book?


Huh. I’m pretty sure you said that.

In fact, you were pretty insistent.

When people in the future ask what Mennonites did during the first great pandemic of the twenty-first century, the answer for most of us will be things like baking, virtual hymn singing and volunteering to help where possible.

It will surprise no one that my answer, instead, will be: making cocktails.

This is not what I might have imagined when I was a teenager considering the various apocalyptic scenarios that I might encounter in my life (yes, I was that sort of teenager). Though largely focused on the threat of nuclear war at the time, were I to have imagined this scenario at the time, I would have envisioned myself baking, joining in virtual hymn sings and being, in general, helpful.

I didn’t really know myself that well back then.

But even ten years ago, I would not have foreseen this. Six or seven years ago, I started this blog. I was ostensibly “building an audience” for a novel I had been laboriously crafting for at least a decade. I thought it was time to have an online presence.

I was not even remotely thinking about cocktails in the age of corona.

Nope. I was thinking about the futility of starting a blog at a time when everyone said that blogging had peaked. It seemed like an impossible task — everybody and their dog had a blog by then and they were growing increasingly esoteric.

And I thought to myself that if I were to write a blog that no one would read, I may as well have fun with it and so I pulled together what I saw as the unlikeliest marriage of all possible blog genres and made the first and only Mennonite Cocktail blog.

I thought the idea was funny. (Though I never really could explain to my mother just how it was funny and she went to her grave still puzzling about it. Which is kinda sad, I guess, but she supported me even without really understanding it).

But then you all said I should write a book.

Not the literary fiction I was struggling with. Oh, no. You said I should write a cocktail book. You said that you liked the recipes — even though I had thought the recipes in the blog were just part of the joke.

I thought you were joking. I laughed along at the idea of pitching the book to a Mennonite publisher. Perhaps my cocktail book, too, could fit among “Classics of the Radical Reformation” when the Mennonite booksellers were trying to decide which genre in which to sell it. Classic Cocktails of the Radical Reformation, I could call it.

Or maybe they could sell it alongside the More-with-Less Cookbook, as a counterpoint. The More-with-More Cocktail Book. Or, as a nod to the humour of the book and a certain bestselling 1968 Mennonite cookbook, we could call it, Cocktails that Really Schputt.

Mostly, I just speculated about what kind of idiot would think she could sell cocktail books to Mennonites. Or a Mennonite book to cocktail lovers.

As it turns out, I am that kind of idiot. After enough of you said that I should do it, and insisted you weren’t joking, I said, “sure, fine. I’ll write a proposal.” And by the time I sent it off, even I was starting to believe in it. I promised a book full of puns and martyrs and margaritas, the sort of thing guaranteed to divide even the most peaceful of Mennonite drinking communities.

Well, I might not have used those exact words.

But the point is: I am now under contract to write a witty little cocktail book saying clever things about Mennonite schisms and other stuff, all while offering up tasty beverage recipes.

It’s bound to be a bestseller. Maybe even outselling The Later Writings of the Swiss Anabaptists. If we’re lucky.

And so I am spending the pandemic writing cocktail recipes.

I do have twinges of Mennonite guilt — surely I could be doing good works and helping the vulnerable instead of writing cocktail recipes with silly quips about Mennonite history, faith and culture.

But I have a deadline now and these recipes won’t write themselves.

Because I promised them new cocktails – not just the same ones that you have already seen here. I’ve got a couple of favourites that will find their way to the book but I said there would be better cocktails and fewer words.

In the book, that is. The blog, here, will be just as rambling as ever and the cocktails just as poorly tested.

A Cocktail that Really Schputts

This cocktail is much like the classic Bees Knees. I present it to you as the perfect quarantine cocktail – assuming you have honey, gin and lemon on hand. Because honey and lemon are pretty much a perfect home remedy for anything that ails you and a bit of gin never hurts.

  • 1.5 oz gin
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz honey

Put all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake thoroughly.

Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with more lemon. Drink while dreaming about how much better life will be when you have a Mennonite cocktail book in your hands.