Not That Kind of Mennonite

Not that kind This post was previously published on the old site in January 2015.

If you know other Mennonites, you might have heard that before. In every relationship/acquaintanceship, with a Mennonite, there will come a time when  it is necessary to have “the talk.” I believe, dear reader, that we have come to that time. If you’ve read other Mennonite blogs before me, they may have walked you through some of this already. If that’s the case, you might want to just scroll down to the cocktail recipe at the bottom. It’s a doozy this week.

First, let us start with what you might be thinking of, when you think of Mennonite. If you are, like me, from Southern Ontario in Canada, or from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, you might be thinking of this kind of Mennonite, or maybe this kind. You might even be thinking of this other kind that you know is a little bit different but you’re not sure how.  If you are from somewhere like that, you might consider yourself clever for knowing the difference — on sight — between Mennonites and the Amish. If that’s you — well, first, you’re probably wrong; second, I’m not that kind of Mennonite.  Mind you, if you’re from somewhere in Western Canada or Mexico, you might be thinking of another kind of Mennonite. I’m not that kind either.

Wikipedia lists over 50 different kinds of Mennonites around the world, but I’m pretty sure that they’ve missed a few. Within Canada, there were over 20 different kinds of Mennonite at last count and there’s no reason to believe we’re going to stop splitting and dividing anytime soon. A number of years ago, Margaret Loewen Reimer wrote a whole reference manual to help people tell us all apart. The folksy title, “One Quilt, Many Pieces” makes it sound like all these distinctions don’t really matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each of these distinctions grew from acrimonious schisms within the church which pitted neighbour against neighbour, spiritualists against traditionalists, traditionalists against pragmatists,  and evangelicals against isolationists. Some of the distinctions don’t matter so much to us anymore and every now and then,  we get together over drinks and wonder why we ever split up.  But sometimes we do remember and then, well, we  don’t really like to be mistaken for those other ones, who are so much less spiritual, progressive, reasonable, or faithful than us and just basically give us all a bad name. Because, for some reason, even with all the schism-ing going on, the vast majority of the Mennonite offshoots wanted to hold onto that name.  Sure, among ourselves we’ll be clear about whether we are Mennonite  Brethren, former General Conference Mennonite, or simply Conference of Mennonites in Canada. But anyone else will just have to intuit the difference between having been raised among the Holdeman Mennonites and being a child of the Old Colony Mennonites. Good luck with that.


Today’s drink celebrates our tendency to the schism. It’s a  tasty gin drink with the power in it to get you up and pounding the pulpit with the passion of your principles in no time. With just the right combination of sour and smooth, it’ll make you  believe with all your heart that the Holy Spirit is here in the united community. Until, of course, it’s not united. At which point, finish up the drink, grab half your Church and make for the hills, confident that you and your adherents are better than the rest of us.

The Schismatic

1/2 oz olive oilschismatic one
1 egg white

2 oz gin
1/2 oz cassis
1 oz unsweetened cranberry juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 oz maple syrup

First make an emulsion with the egg white and the olive oil by shaking the two vigorously in your cocktail shaker. Shake for about 200 times; this makes the foam that sits on the top of the drink like a leadership team that is confident in its faith.

Add the remaining ingredients to the shaker and toss in a couple of ice cubes. Shake some more.

Strain out the ice chunks and pour into a champagne flute.

schismatic 2At this point, you have a lovely smooth beverage with a foamy head on top. You can drink it now and kid yourself into believing that unity is a beautiful thing.

On the other hand, you can wait about 15 minutes and watch the whole thing come apart. You can stir it up again afterwards but you’ll always know, won’t you? There are people in this community, er, I mean, ingredients in this drink, that just don’t want to stay together.

The Schismatic is a variation of the Oliveto which is typically made with orange juice. Citrus doesn’t grow in my part of the world, so I commonly replace citrus sours with sours that do grow here — cranberry being the most plentiful. If you live in the land of lemons and oranges, go ahead and drink the original. I have confidence that southern Mennos are every bit as schismatic as us northerners.

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