5 Questions with S.L. Klassen, Author of ‘Menno-Nightcaps’

S. L. Klassen writes, attends Mennonite functions, and drinks cocktails in Toronto, Ontario. She has a PhD in history and a lifetime of experience with Mennonites. In 2013, she began a Mennonite humour and cocktail blog called The Drunken Mennonite. It has all been downhill ever since.

Her brand new book Menno-Nightcaps is available now! Join S.L. Klassen, Daily Bonnet author Andrew Unger, and McNally Robinson for a virtual evening of Menno-Nightcaps on Friday, November 12. Information about the event can be found here

BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!!! Enter to WIN a copy of Menno-Nightcaps simply by liking AND commenting (make sure to comment) below this article on Mennotoba’s Facebook or Twitter page. (Make sure you’re commenting directly on Mennotoba’s page). You can also enter by simply emailing Mennotoba at realmennotoba@gmail.com. (A winner will be drawn on Wednesday, Nov. 10). 

1) Over the years, you’ve designed many cocktail recipes. How did you choose which recipes to include in Menno-Nightcaps and which ones to shun?

Almost all of the recipes in Menno-Nightcaps are brand new. I knew that Mennonites would never pay for a book of recipes if they could find them online for free so I committed to new and better recipes for the book. There were a couple that did make it into the book because I loved the names — like the Bloody Martyr, for instance, which is a variation of a Bloody Mary. But the version on the blog used borscht thins and it turns out that borscht is actually much better as a soup than a cocktail so I redid the recipe for that one and held onto the name.

2) You call yourself the Drunken Mennonite. On a scale of one-to-ten, how Mennonite are you and how drunk are you right now?

First of all, that scale is all wrong. If you insist on a numeric scale, it has to go up to 606. And that’s how Mennonite I am. I am so Mennonite that I didn’t understand the jokes about people named Dyck until I was married and had children of my own; and that this marriage and childbearing occurred only a few years after I was of legal drinking age. I am so Mennonite that I shudder at neighbours seeing I have thrown away rather than re-used ziploc and tea bags; that I have in my possession no less than three Mennonite hymnals and no less than six Mennonite cookbooks. I am so Mennonite that all my high school friends studied Peace and Conflict Studies or Music in university; that when I meet someone who is not a Mennonite, I inflict on them a history lesson that harks back to 1525; and that I can sing the Doxology in four-part harmony without a book while simultaneously finishing a game of Rook and beginning one of Dutch Blitz. And, ultimately, I am so Mennonite that there is no dispute so minor in my congregation that I do not immediately begin scheming to see if I can make it into a schism.

I’m not drunk at all right now. It took me so long to write that last answer that I sobered right up.

3) Your book contains cocktail recipes along with amusing background information about each one. Do you recommend we drink the cocktail before we read its backstory or vice versa?

Simultaneously. If you end up spilling your drink on the book or spit laughing at some of my bon mots, buy a second book. In fact, I think that everyone should really purchase two books for their own households just in case of that eventuality.

4) Which cocktail would you request with your last meal/faspa?

I think it is unlikely I will have the opportunity to request my last meal but, like a good Mennonite, I have, of course, been planning my own funeral since the age of twelve. Admittedly, the early plans did not include cocktails but the plans have evolved over the years and now I think I would like to have French 75 cocktails there. In Menno-Nightcaps, I adapted the cocktail into what I called the (French) 75-minute service and it is true that I have known several Mennonite funeral services to last 75 minutes even before the faspa and freivillege. The cocktail has gin and lemon and simple syrup and champagne and is very strong and very tasty. However, if it gets out that this will be served at my funeral, the Church is sure to be packed, and the costs of the gin and champagne will completely exhaust what little inheritance my children might have expected.  Then they will need to go begging to the Church board for charity, confident in the knowledge that the board will be grateful that I never actually succeeded in creating a full-fledged Church schism; and will consequently offer them a dollar or two out of kindness or maybe a post as Church caretaker.

5) In your estimation, what percentage of Mennonites are closet drinkers?

Seriously?!? People need to get out of the closet. Drinking in the closet is a terrible idea. Even if you are particularly careful, it’s almost impossible to mix drinks without spilling a bit and when that happens, suddenly your big winter coat will smell of whiskey or schnapps and then when you wear it to Church everyone will take a whiff and think that you have a drinking problem. You won’t even be able to take it to the MCC Thrift shop. That’s not even mentioning the danger if you happen to break a glass in there and get shards in your shoes or winter boots. I don’t know how many Mennonites are doing this but they need to stop and go sit at their dining room tables like grown-ups.

Don’t forgot the upcoming event on Friday, November 12 and the book giveway. (Details at the top)