There is perhaps no religion more in keeping with the theme of Halloween than the Catholic Church. Given its long history, the remnants of medieval customs and Gothic architecture appear in even the most modern cities—not to mention that the holiday falls amidst the Catholic remembrances of the dead on All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days. Here in Southern California we also have the Mexican tradition of Día de los Muertos, with the attendant art, ritual and celebration during the same period.
Though the name “black friar” sounds ominous enough, it is merely a reference to a Dominican friar of the Catholic Church, commonly recognized by their black cloaks. Blackfriar as a name is primarily found in areas where Dominicans are or have been concentrated—giving rise to placenames like Blackfriars Bridge and Blackfriars Station in London. Every order has a past, though, and one of the nicknames given the order is Domini canes—Hounds of the Lord. That seems sufficiently Halloween-ready to me.
This cocktail comes from Jacques Bezuidenhout, published in Food & Wine Cocktails ’09. Jacques is a familiar face in LA, making the occasional appearance here from his homebase in San Francisco. He created the Black Friar’s Pint to bridge his past work building pints of Guinness with his present work with cocktails, preserving creativity and tradition in one glass.
2 oz gin
1 oz Cardamom-Cinnamon Guinness (below)
¾ oz Lustau East India sherry
1 tsp agave nectar
1 large egg white
Shake all ingredients without ice for thirty seconds. Add ice and shake again for thirty seconds or so. Strain into a champagne flute and garnish with a pinch of ground cinnamon.
2 cardamom pods
1 medium cinnamon stick
8 oz Guinness
In a small saucepan, lightly muddle the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. Add the Guinness and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for one minute. Let cool, then strain the spiced Guinness into a jar, cover and refrigerate for up to three weeks.
I won’t lie—the appearance of this drink is just gorgeous. The deep brown-black of the beer contrasted with the think band of white is stunning, and it looks just like a tiny pint of Guiness—it even settles like Guinness in the glass. Fortunately it also tastes good, melding the exotic notes of cardamom and cinnamon in the beer and clove from the Angostura with the woody, herbaceous flavors of gin. The sweetness of the sherry rounds everything out and makes for a quick, elegant cocktail. Similar to the Black Velvet (Guinness and sparkling wine), this cocktail is much more complex and interesting. Using smaller flutes I managed to get two drinks per shaker-full, and these could be batched for a party by measuring out each shaker’s worth of ingredients and keeping them in the fridge until needed.