Scheut Missions priest, Fr Paul Staes, prepares his signature Manhattan cocktail.Scheut Missions priest, Fr Paul Staes, prepares his signature Manhattan cocktail.
Walk into Crossings Café between seven and 10 o’clock on Friday nights and you will be greeted by the warm hospitality of a Belgian missionary priest.

Scheut Missions Fr Paul Staes will make you his signature Manhattan cocktail if you are an adult willing to try an alcoholic drink. He will even give you a complimentary bowl of homemade Belgian rice pudding, a family recipe he learned to make from his mother.

Fr Staes, who is the spiritual director of Crossings Café, volunteered to be a bartender once a week as part of his commitment to the social enterprise. His stint began on Valentine’s Day last year.

The 78-year-old’s role does not stop at the bar there however, as he moves from table to table sharing stories and exchanging jokes with guests. He also offers information on the various drinks available in the cafe, such as the Belgian Trappist Beers, Belgian fruit beers and others.

While a psychology student in the United States from 1963 to 1965, Fr Staes came to like the Manhattan cocktail and learned to concoct it perfectly. “Up to now, Manhattan is the only cocktail I serve,” said Fr Staes. “But I’m thinking of adding a less potent aperitif [pre-dinner drink],” revealed the priest, who came to Singapore 21 years ago.

Crossings Café, on the ground floor of the Catholic Centre, opens daily from 8am - 10pm.

By Mel Diamse-Lee
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