Of delicious cocktails and Methodist guilt


This photo is the official portrait of what are very possibly the first two martinis ever to have been prepared and imbibed at the Manse in all its 125-year history. I made them early this week (I am the cocktail-maker in the Sedgwick-Brassard outfit), and they were very good, if I do say so myself. The glasses came from Wilson’s of Madoc, and the beverages made a fine start to a perfect Darren-and-Samantha midcentury supper, to wit: martinis and tuna casserole.

But I have to confess that I feel conflicted. Martinis? In the Manse? The Manse that was built by Methodists for the Methodist minister? In those days, people – 1888, I mean, when the Manse was built – Methodists tended to be very strongly against strong drink. And that was also the way it was when I was growing up at the Manse in the 1960s and ’70s; tea was as strong as drink got at our house back then.

But I have been somewhat encouraged on the cocktail front these past two days as Raymond and I have spent some time with our Stratford (Ont.) friends John and Diana, who have transformed a section of their lofty flat into the coolest (non-commercial) lounge you ever saw, with John behind the bar mixing incredibly complex, obscure, retro – and tasty – cocktails. It makes one realize that properly thought-out cocktails are a very fine art – and, in moderation, a very fine thing.

So I am beginning to think it is eminently possible that there is room for cocktails – and perhaps even a modest replica of John and Diana’s splendid cocktail bar – in the Manse’s future.

If, that is, I can get over my Methodist guilt.

Which, admittedly, is a very big if.

7 thoughts on “Of delicious cocktails and Methodist guilt

  1. I always wondered about buildings that were once (and expressly) made for religious reasons, and how some of those buildings changed later on. I mean, you can deconsecrate a church and turn it into a residential structure, but how many people have pangs of guilt or think twice before engaging in something in their repurposed home ? Its the mental equivalent of turning your grandmother´s picture around to face the wall, lest she witness anything inappropriate.

  2. Been meaning to respond to this one for a while, Katherine–I totally get it! Such an odd thing, the way our forebears (and very recent ones, too!) conflated alcohol and sin. I suppose some of them saw genuine social distress caused by booze, although I’m not sure that was really the basis of their objection. But if you’re going to have a martini (and I’m glad you are), feel free to, you know, play cards, too…for money, even!

    • I know that those ancestors (and not so far back, either – I’m thinking Dad and his father, J.B. Sedgwick) did see (and did have to help deal with) ruin that alcohol abuse had brought on. And I know it made a very big imprint on them, as well it should have. That said, I don’t know why I even think this, but I think Dad might have been kind of tickled (or maybe, watching over things, was tickled) to see those martinis and the crazy fun the Manse was witnessing. And, given that it was only one round of martinis, not so crazy as all that!

  3. Oh, trust me…there will be cards for money being played at the Manse at some point. Does the Manse need a cribbage board?

    • The Manse has an excellent cribbage board, Jeannie! But I have to tell you that cards for money is one step I might not be able to get over at the (Methodist) Manse. The old guilt could well be too much. Maybe cribbage just for fun and riotous laughs instead?

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