whether you feel like a sinner, a saint, or both, this is the drink for you

whether you feel like a sinner, a saint, or both, this is the drink for you

whether you feel like a sinner, a saint, or both, this is the drink for you

Before the Pope was in town and made everyone some combination of inspired, weepy, and sentimental, Nadia Bolz-Weber was in town on a tour for her new book, Accidental Saints. Now, Nadia is not the Pope, but she had an effect on me like the Pope did on most.

Nadia is a Lutheran minister. She is also a former alcoholic and Wiccan, is covered in tattoos, and her church A House for All Sinners and Saints is a spiritual community for everyone from the homeless to drag queens to seminary students. They have a day called Blessing the Bicycles, and that alone would make me go there in a heartbeat.

Have you ever heard someone speak and realized partway through that you’re nodding both externally and internally at everything they say? That’s what listening to her and reading her books has been like for me. She talked about love and hope and things you’d expect a pastor to talk about. But she also talked about all the unlikely messed up people whom God seemed to handpick to bring more love and hope to the world, in their completely unlikely, messed up way.

If you’ve grown up in a religious institution you might have felt a fair amount of emphasis either explicitly or implicitly on earnestly moving further from being the sinner and closer to being (or pretending to be) a saint. Nadia seemed to posit that we’ve gotten everything all wrong. Our label of one or the other really isn’t important. If you feel saintly, you’re probably a sinner. And if you’re whom the world deems a sinner, you’re probably actually the one to show ‘the saints’ who God is.

In all of my thinking about Nadia’s talk and her book, I realized that I had the perfect drink to accompany her tour. This may or may not be fair; I’m guessing once-alcoholics don’t look for signature cocktails for their new books. But I also think it’s something she’d be cool with. And for all you readers who would like a themed drink to go with your Accidental Saints book club, this is it.

(end philosophical rant)

It’s a longtime favorite, easy to make, and so beautiful.

I give to you the Half Sinner Half Saint.

Drink this drink and read her book.


The recipe calls for two kinds of vermouth, but you can substitute so easily with different kinds of fortified wines. Drink taught us to use red and white Lillet instead of the vermouths. Once, during what I think was a storm, the liquor store was out of white Lillet; so we tried it with Cocchi Americano instead, and loved it even more–which should be no surprise since we prefer Cocchi to Lillet. We haven’t tried these variations, but I imagine a cream and dry sherry, or a ruby and tawny port would work just as well–or even mixing and matching your vermouths, ports, and sherrys.

Take your pick. Any way it’s tasty and easy to whip up on the fly–plus if you do the anise float just right, it looks very dramatic.


  • 1.5 oz white vermouth*
  • 1.5 oz red vermouth*
  • anise liqueur** float (approx .5 oz but you can eyeball this)

*Substitute for red lillet and cocchi, or the other fortified wines we mention above. as you see fit.

** that is, the pastis, anisette, absinthe, arak, or whichever variety you prefer among the numerous anise-flavored liqueurs we mention in Building a Bar 3.


  • Fill a low ball glass with ice.
  • Pour both vermouths in the glass. Gently stir.
  • Slowly float the absinthe on top (If you pour slowly enough the absinthe should stay on the top in a nice little line).
  • Serve with a straw–this helps make sure that you get enough of the vermouths or substitutes in the early sips, instead of just anise–and enjoy!

On the left, Lillet and Cocchi. On the right, vermouth





Roberts & June