Archives September 2018

Fr Simon talks about the MA in Digital Theology at Durham

My wonderful co-conspirator, Fidge, filmed this quick (very quick) interview about the course we are both on, and here is me trying to (badly) articulate what on earth Digital Theology is, and why it is relevant to the Church and its mission. I didn’t actually mention how good the course was, and how much I would recommend it, but I really would: it’s an awesome course.


Thanks to @Fidge

Cocktails Evening – Recipes and Talk so you can host your own fundraiser

Tonight we seek to raise some money for the Friends of S. Mary’s and have a bit of a laugh in the process. Last year we organised a wine tasting, and so this year, inspired by our love of complex alcohol and a mixology session onboard the Queen Victoria, this is the result.

We list the cocktails, some spiel about it and the measures for a single drink. There is also our scaled-up volumes based on 20 people each having approximately 1/3 of a normal cocktail. I ran the front-of-house by presenting and mixing a single example whilst Lou was busy in the background making the volume.

On arrival: Kir


150ml chilled Prosecco or Cava
50ml Crème de Cassis

For 20 people: 1500ml Prosecco (2 x bottles) £12.00 & 500ml Crème de Cassis (1 bottle) = £9.00 =£21.00

General welcome and introduction about ‘cocktails’ Read the origin of the word from the Savoy Cocktail book (1930) p. 13 – 14

“Most of the people one meets in places where Cocktails grow have an idea that they know the origin of the word “Cocktail”; none of them, however, agree as to what that origin is, and in any case they are all wrong, as they always put that origin somewhere between sixty and seventy years ago (a book published in 1930), whereas in The Balance, an American periodical, of May 13, 1806, we read that:

“Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters – it is vulgarly called bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion.”

This is the earliest reference to the Cocktail that I have been able to find in print.

Historians have been misled by the word “Cocktail” into imagining that it was once in some way connected with the plumage of the domestic rooster. But this is not so.

The true, authentic and incontrovertible story of the origin of the Cocktail is as follows:-

Somewhere about the beginning of the last century there had been for some time very considerable friction between the American Army of the Southern States and King Axolotl VIII of Mexico. Several skirmishes and one or two battles took place, but eventually a truce was called and the King agreed to meet the American general and to discuss terms of peace with him.

The place chosen for the meeting was the King’s Pavilion, and thither the American general repaired, and was accommodated with a seat on the Bench, as it were, next to the King himself.

Before opening negotiations, however, His Majesty asked the general, as one man to another, if he would like a drink, and being an American general he of course said yes.

The King gave a command and in a few moments there appeared a lady of entrancing and overwhelming beauty, bearing in her slender fingers a gold cup encrusted with rubies and containing a strange potion of her own brewing. Immediately an awed and ominous hush fell upon the assembly, for the same thought struck everyone at the same time, namely, that as there was only one cup either the King or the general would have to drink out of it first, and that the other would be bound to feel insulted.

The situation was growing tense when the cup-bearer seemed also to realize its difficulty, for with a sweet smile she bowed her shapely head in reverence to the assembly and drank the drink herself.

Everything was saved and the conference came to a satisfactory ending, but before leaving, the general asked if he might know the name of the lady who had shown such tact.

“That,” proudly said the King, who had never seen the lady before, “is my daughter Coctel.”

‘Right,” replied the general, “I will see that her name is honoured for evermore by my Army.”

Coctel, of course, became Cocktail, and there you are! There exists definite unquestionable proof of the truth of this story, but no correspondence upon the subject can in any circumstances be entertained.

For our tastings tonight, we can’t even scratch the surface of the many hundreds of cocktails which have been developed and loved over the years. Our aim is to give you a taste of 8 different cocktails, some gin based, vodka based, whiskey based, rum based and a couple of champagne cocktails such as the ‘Kir’ which you have sampled on arrival.

If we were very wealthy of course, we would serve ‘Kir Royale’ which is identical in every respect apart from using sparkling wine from Champagne rather than the Italian Prosecco we have favoured. There will be another champagne cocktail later. These are half size samples. Other cocktails will be 1/3 size so, over the course of the evening you will have the equivalent of 3 full size cocktails. Hence the need for Taxi Zoë at home time!!

Now, let’s start with THE classic …

Cocktail 2: Gin Martini

Dry Martini

The origin of the Martini or Martinez, can be traced back as far as 1862 to San Francisco, California. It quickly gained a huge following and rose to the rank of ‘classic’ in 1888 when it was published in Jerry Thomas’s legendary classic ‘How to Mix Drinks’. A marriage between Gin and dry vermouth perfectly balanced to your liking and served in a martini glass created from the cocktail glass of the same style; the martini glass has a larger stem and a wider bowl.

Martini is, of course, most famous as the preferred tipple of James Bond who started off drinking Vodka Martinis and then changed to gin. The name Martini comes, not from the drink, but the shape of the classic ‘Martini’ glass which had the name before the drink. (Sadly, we don’t have enough for you all tonight so your samples will be in wine glasses.)

Bond’s assertion that it should be ‘shaken, not stirred’ is not accepted by any decent mixologist. Martinis are stirred with the ice until the glass they are stirred in is too cold to touch (about 30 seconds).

If cocktails are shaken, small fragments of ice break off and dilute the drink, thereby affecting the taste and making it cloudy. James Bond, you know nothing… or maybe it was Ian Fleming’s commentary on the poor quality of Post-War Spirits!

60 ml Gin
15 ml Vermouth

The amount of vermouth used dictates how ‘dry’ the martini is.

For 20 people (1/3 size): 400ml Gin £8.50 & 200ml vermouth = £1.20 = £10.00

Other Martini descriptions are:

Dirty – with the addition of a dash of olive brine

Wet – heavy on the vermouth

Dickens – without an olive or a lemon twist

Gibson – with 2 cocktail onions

Bradford – shaken with bitters

Churchill – The Churchill martini is the driest. Famously favoured by Sir Winston Churchill and involves waving an unopened bottle of vermouth over neat, chilled gin!

Gibson Martini

Local interest: Plymouth Gin was mentioned by name in the 1904 publication’ Stuarts Fancy Drinks and How to Mix Them – in the section entitled ‘New and up-to-date drinks’!

One of these said up-to-date drinks was the Marguerite Cocktail which lifted the original Martini with the addition of bitters to slightly lift the dry taste. The currently favoured version also adds a bar spoon of Cointreau)

Cocktail 3: Margarita


With a worldwide reputation, the Margarita carries a heavy burden as the household name of the tequila cocktail family. With such recognition comes dozens of variations – everyone loves a Margarita and everyone has their own idea of what makes the best –

The Margarita is part of the daisy family of cocktails, which were popular in the early 20th century. In fact, ‘margarita’ is the Spanish word for daisy. Cocktails in the daisy family consist of spirit, citrus juice and something to both sweeten it up and to balance the citrus. Although many people think the Margarita comes from Mexico or South America, the origins of a cocktail containing tequila, citrus juice and an orange liqueur can be traced back to the Café Royal Cocktail Book in 1937, well before this combination was published as a Margarita. Named the Picador, its makeup is undoubtedly a tequila daisy, and at 2:1:1 parts respectively, it follows the classic formula of a Margarita. A British invention then? Perhaps.

For the homemade margarita mix:

1/2 cup sugar (or your favourite sweetener – ie 3-5 drops liquid stevia per serving)

1 cup water

1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (8-12 limes)

For the margaritas:

150ml Margarita mix
50ml silver tequila
20ml orange liqueur
lime wedges/slices for garnish (optional)

& salted glass rims (put lime juice on a saucer, salt on another, turn the glass rimwards into the lime and then the salt)

For 20 people (1/3 size): 350ml Tequila £10.00 & triple sec 135ml = £4.00 = £14.00

Cocktail 4: Manhattan


The general consensus is that the Manhattan originated in New York around the 1930s. Some argue that the original recipe was made with Rye whisky from Canada due to prohibition restrictions in the US. Apparently, there are no documents to support this; however, a recipe for a Manhattan using Canadian Rye whisky features in The Savoy cocktail book of 1930. Whatever bourbon or rye you choose to use, make sure it is balanced out with a splash of sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters to create a truly marvellous drink that you’ll want to try over and over again.

60ml Bourbon (or Rye Whisky)
15ml Martini Rosso
Dash Angostura bitters
Fresh lime
Maraschino cherries

For 20 people (1/3 size): 400ml Bourbon £6.40 & 100ml Martini Rosso = £0.60 = £7.00

Cocktail 5: Cosmopolitan


Classic Cosmopolitan should be fluorescent pink – not red. It was actually born in the 1960s in Florida USA. This classic rose to fame in the mid-2000s thanks to the TV show ‘Sex and the City’. It has ties to the Cape Cod ( The Cape Coder cocktail is vodka and cranberry juice) and the kamikaze cocktails. A pairing of citrus vodka, orange liquor, fresh lime and cranberry juices, it’s easy to see why this is one of the top selling cocktails of all time.
Describe the use of the Boston shaker.

45ml Vodka citron
30ml Cointreau
30ml cranberry juice
Juice of 1 lime

For 20 people (1/3 size): 300ml Citrus vodka £7.70 & 200ml Cointreau £6.00, 200ml cranberry juice £1.00, 7 limes, £2.00 = £16.00

Cocktail 6: Sex on the Beach

Sex on the Beach

There are several stories claiming to describe the origin of the Sex on the Beach. One claims that the cocktail originated in Florida in the spring of 1987, coinciding with the introduction of peach schnapps. A bartender at Confetti’s Bar devised the drink and gave it the name in a nod to the many tourists visiting Florida’s beaches each spring.

50ml cranberry juice
50ml orange juice
50ml vodka
25ml peach schnapps
2tsp crème de cassis

For 20 people (1/3 size): 350ml cranberry, 350ml orange £2.00, 350ml vodka £4.00, 170ml peach schnaps £1.30 = £7.50

Cocktail 7: Champagne Cocktail

Champagne Cocktail

A classic. Winner of the 1899 ‘New York Cocktail’ Competition. This recipe proves simplicity at its best and is easy to make as it requires no special equipment.

1 brown sugar cube
15ml Cognac
Angostura bitters
Top with Champagne (Prosecco/Cava) (150ml)

For 20 people (1/2 size): 10 sugar cubes (£1) 140ml Cognac £3.00 2000 ml Prosecco = £21.00 = £25.00

Cocktail 8: Officer of the Watch

Officer of the Watch

And finally – the perfect after dinner cocktail to end the evening. Developed aboard Cunard as an alternative to the Espresso Martini. Officer of the Watch uses freshly made espresso which takes on a creamy appearance when shaken with the ice.

45ml gin (original recipe has navy strength)
15ml Amaretto (or Amaretti Syrup)
Single Espresso
3 drops chocolate bitters

For 20 people (1/3 size): 300ml Gin £6.40, 100ml syrup £1.00 = £7.50


Side 1 of our tasting notes (A5 booklet)

Homily on the Wedding of Richard and Naomi 1st September 2018

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

I am here on serious business today. I am here to warn you all of a great threat to us. A threat to our way of life. A threat to the ease and comfort in which we live. A threat to the personal security that we so often take for granted. I am to speak to you about something, which if left unchecked, could turn our very world upside down.

Some of you may already be thinking that a wedding is not the place to bring up such dire warnings. Weddings should be light, and funny. A wedding sermon should, at minimum, offer some advice to the couple and not take up too much time. Well I apologize in advance because I cannot in good conscience let pass this opportunity to warn you, my dear friends, of this imminent threat that we face.

And rather than bang on about Pop Music lyrics like I usually do at this point – to an extent to which the Mother and Father of the Bride and certainly all of the Choir could recite it along with me, rather than do that, I want to turn to Holy Scripture, for it is full of warnings about the threat that I am concerned with today. So I will let scripture speak for itself.

In the New Testament, and as we have just heard, Saint Paul warns us. In writing to the sophisticated, well-educated Corinthians, who were over flowing in spiritual gifts, he warns them of the insidious danger of love:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

His warning rings true today. Love will turn you into a spineless, wimpy push over and at the same time give you the strength to prevail against all manner of onslaught and conflict. Love will take over your life if you let it. Love will turn your world upside down.

The writer of the first letter attributed to John goes even further, and we heard this at the start of this service:

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love”

1 John 4: 7-8.

If God is love then there is just no escaping it.

Wherever there is love, whoever is loving, however they are loving, that’s God.

Love is risky. Love is demanding. Love is costly, or better yet priceless. There is a power in love.

Love casts down the wealthy and powerful, and lifts up the poor and lowly.

Love cannot rest as long as there are hungry children, broken hearts, or captives of any kind.

Love can change the world, turn it upside down in fact, make up down and last first.

Love does this not in feats of strength but in weakness and vulnerability.

Love is weird like that. Love brought Jesus to the cross and out of the grave.

Love is constantly poured out on all flesh, making all things new.

Yes, God is love and the older I get the harder it is for me to tell the difference between the two.

If you like the way things are, my friends, if you are comfortable, if the status quo is fine by you, then you best steer clear of love.

But in spite of all the warnings from scripture, in the face of a world that seems bent on the opposite of love, and perhaps in contradiction to common sense, two more people gather before God, before us, to commit their lives to love.

Richard and Naomi have seen what love costs, what love demands.

They know that to love means to leave self behind, to empty oneself, to give it all.

They know that love opens oneself up to ridicule, sacrifice and loss, great loss, for Love breaks us open, and the presence of each other, they seek to complete each other.

Their love today is a sacrament, an outward expression of invisible grace.

As Christ gives his life for the church and the church in return gives its life for Christ, so do Richard and Naomi give themselves to each other. Their lives lived in love are not to be hid away but to be lived out in public for all to see. Their shared love is a symbol of the love of God for the world, overflowing to all whom they encounter. Their home a sign of God’s inbreaking Kingdom where justice and peace abound, where love is a higher law.

We who gather here today come to commit ourselves to uphold them in prayer and support them as they answer love’s call. And today too, we are reminded of love’s call on our lives. As we witness the vows of Richard and Naomi may we have our own love strengthened.

For in love, the world is made a more complete place, society a more caring structure, family a deeper bond. For all of us, like the rings exchanged this day, may love be given and received. Let us all recommit ourselves the radical weak power of love, the love of God, in which we live and move and have our being.

May this be our prayer, all of us, in the name of God who is love, God who is +Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen