This is Not a Mennonite Drinking Game

This post was originally published on the old site in November of 2015. I haven’t really changed much — liked it as it was.

Dutch BlitzWhen I started this project, I knew I would have to create a cocktail called The Dutch Blitz. It was a name calling out for a cocktail and I hate to disappoint.

Dutch Blitz is a card game. It is not Dutch. It hails from the Mennonites of Lancaster County,  Pennsylvania and the title refers to Pennsylvania Dutch, the dialect spoken there. Which also isn’t Dutch but is properly known as Pennsylvania Deutsch, or Pennsylvania German (though, the provenance of the term is under some dispute). That, however, would make you think that these Mennonites originally came from Germany. Some of them did come from South Germany but in Mennonite circles all of these ethnic Mennonites are considered the Swiss Mennonites. There are other Mennonites who came from the North and actually do have  Dutch lineage but the Dutch ones didn’t make the Dutch Blitz game. Though they will play it now.

Blitz, of course, is German for lightning. The title of the game is not a reference to Nazi bombing tactics.  You could be forgiven for the confusion. But that would be a very different game. And Mennonites wouldn’t play it. I suppose it could be a reference to the Rotterdam Blitz but, like I said, it’s not really a war game. And it’s not Dutch. According to the game’s website, Dutch Blitz was created as an educational game to help teach children numbers and colours. Yes, we aim high in our educational aspirations (mind you, given that colour blindness isn’t all that uncommon among Amish and Swiss Mennonites, it was, perhaps, a very high aspiration after all).

Dutch Blitz is named after lightning because you need to be lightning fast to win the game. You need to be able to count to 10, to distinguish between red, yellow, green and blue, and move quickly. That’s it.  Ok – you also need to be observant and multitask.  Played with special cards, it is very much like a sort of group solitaire in which the participants compete to be the quickest. Group solitaire might sound like an oxymoron but if you think about it, it makes some sense that Group Solitaire would become the Mennonite National Game.* As Mennonite sociologist Leo Driedger has observed, the Mennonite faith is intrinsically individualistic (largely because of the insistence that membership to the Church is based on an individual, adult decision). But, then, we’ve also spent a couple of centuries thinking of ourselves as communitarian – often living in little communities set apart both from each other and from “the world.” So, what better symbol than a game that functions as a groupified version of solitaire? I’m not quite sure why it has to be lightning fast; if it suggests that we as a people move quickly in any way whatsoever, than it is misrepresenting us terribly.

This cocktail is my own creation and I’m quite proud of it.  A slammer came to mind, since this is a game where cards are often slammed, and the pack of cards needs to be replaced every couple of years as a result of damage. The only slammer I’ve ever had before was the tequila slammer, introduced to me in my 20s by the epic French film, Betty Blue. There’s nothing particularly Mennonite about that film or about tequila and soda water, for that matter.  But the idea of a slammer can easily be adapted. For the alcohol, I chose the Dutch Ginever Gin. I know I just spent a paragraph explaining that Dutch Blitz wasn’t Dutch but why stop the confusion when it’s going so well? Ginever really is Dutch and it’s quite nice. For the fizz, I use a rhubarb soda. I found a can of this in my local artisanal soda pop shop but you could also make your own by poaching rhubarb with apple juice and a couple pounds of sugar (then drain and mix with sparkling water). Mennonites LOVE rhubarb. Hell, we even have a literary magazine named after it. How many bitter fruits can claim that?


The Dutch Blitz

1 ounce of Dutch Ginever Gin
1 ounce of rhubarb soda pop (at room temperature)

  1. Pour Ginever into a shot glass.
  2. Fill with the soda pop
  3. Quickly put your hand over the shot glass, lift up and slam down hard on the table
  4. Drink while still fizzing

This drink encapsulate the sense of triumph upon finishing your deck and yelling “Blitz!” It has bite but also good humour. It’s not a game of bitterness; the next round will begin again soon enough. I do not suggest that you drink this while playing Dutch Blitz. There’s only so much slamming that should happen on one table at any one time. Drinks  spill, glasses break, and cards are destroyed before a winner can be declared. Please blitz responsibly.

*note that the decision to name Dutch Blitz the official Mennonite National Game caused a large group of Rook-loving Mennonites to split from the Conference of Mennonites in Canada. The group in favour of Crokinole has so far remained within the conference but has complained loudly about their elder status being mocked by this decision. **

**Not, really. I’ve said this before: Mennonites are not a nation. We have no official Mennonite National  anything.

7 thoughts on “This is Not a Mennonite Drinking Game

  1. Better idea for rhubarb fizz: put rhubarb through the juicer. Mix 2 parts juice with 2 parts water and 1 part sugar (adjust sugar to taste). Stick it in a pressure-safe container (we save 2L soft drink bottles for this) and add about 1/8tsp champagne yeast. After a day or so stick it in the fridge (if you’re using a 2L plastic bottle you can just squeeze the air out when you fill it, and it’s done when it’s full again.) Delicious.

    1. The need to plan ahead often gets in the way of projects like this for me but all power to you if you want to pull out the juicer (I don’t actually have a juicer) and find yourself some Champagne yeast (I don’t actually know what that is). But, yeah. Good luck.

      1. I know someone who can get you the details on champagne yeast from Cooking for Geeks… I just went to the local wine supply place and asked, and they had the same stuff as what Potter recommended. I’m fairly sure that the popular method of boiling the rhubarb in sugar syrup would also give you a good juice & sugar substitute. But that makes it seasonal. (Juice freezes better than rhubarb does).)

  2. My Lancaster County Swiss Mennonite mother used colored cards similar to this to play Uno with her “game girls.” The game is not strictly Mennonite, but the shuffle is. I show it here: about a month after I started blogging 2 1/2 years ago.

    Her beverage, if any, was fermented grape juice, imbibed on the sly. She’s have a fit if she knew there was a “drunken Mennonite” out there – ha!

    1. I love the “Mennonite shuffle.” I hadn’t heard of it before but this explains why I was able to impress with my basic but standard card shuffling skills when at inter-Menno events.

  3. It might be worthy to note that at every Mennonite Church USA convention where a MennoMedia or Herald Press or Third Way “store” decided to sell Dutch Blitz cards, whatever quantity of sets we had gambled on to purchase and resell there, was quickly sold out and youth especially would wander in for days looking for Dutch Blitz cards. True story. And I agree with Marian that our mothers and grandmothers would be totally offended by this blog.

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