From First Things-
A man down the bar from me turned and said, “Is that a costume, or are you really a priest?” I have often been asked this question when tucked away in my corner seat at the bar at New York’s Death & Co., a good spot for reading and having a crisp martini. Even months from Halloween, people in the East Village assume that a man in clerical garb must be in costume, but once they learn that I am a coconspirator in the world of cocktail enthusiasm, fine conversation flows.
It started in Washington, D.C. Derek Brown, one of the forces behind the recent craft cocktail revival, wanted to complete his confirmation while I was a priest at his parish. As I instructed him in the Catholic faith, he initiated me into the mysteries of craft cocktails. “A priest walks into a bar” has launched a thousand mediocre jokes. But since those days of reading Ratzinger’s Introduction to Christianity with Derek, and being invited by him to the openings of new speakeasies, I’ve discovered that “A priest walks into a bar” can also be a perfectly appropriate beginning to giving thanks at the end of a day (a good or bad one), to finding friendship in a foreign city, and even to bringing a bit of charity and Christian fellowship to places where communities have long gathered.
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