May 21 Rapture Scheduled for 6 p.m.

This post has been updated.

I’ve been fielding a lot of questions from friends about the upcoming Rapture, which Christian doomsday prognosticator Harold Camping and his sad motley group of followers say will take place May 21. This is the day that true believers will be taken up to heaven, while everybody else — Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics and anyone who supports gay marriage or accepts evolution — will be stuck here on Earth for another six months while war and pestilence rains down on us. Then, on Oct. 21, the world will end.

For the big day, a lot of heathens I know, such as American Atheists and the Center for Inquiry chapters, are throwing big Rapture parties. And for party planning purposes, they need to know some critical details. For instance, exactly what time will the Rapture take place? If I’m still here, how will I know when it happens? What music should I play? And most importantly, what’s a good cocktail to serve for Judgment Day?

Peter Finocchiaro at Salon deserves a lot of credit for delving into Camping’s reasons for why he predicts May 21 will be Judgment Day, which has something to do with the anniversary of Noah’s Ark, the end of Tribulation, which began 23 years ago (Who knew?) and the mathematical formula 5+10+17=Armageddon.

But more importantly, the article also answers many practical questions for party planners. As one of Camping’s followers explained, the Rapture won’t begin until 6 p.m. Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “Is that in Eastern or Pacific Standard Time?”

Well, because God created time zones — just as he apparently created US international borders — the Rapture will begin at 6 p.m. in each time zone. Also, you’ll know when the Rapture will begin because it will be preceded by an earthquake.

…”starting in the Pacific Rim at around the 6 p.m. local time hour, in each time zone, there will be a great earthquake, such as has never been in the history of the Earth,” he says. The true Christian believers — he hopes he’s one of them — will be “raptured”: They’ll fly upward to heaven. And for the rest?

“It’s just the horror of horror stories,” he says, “and on top of all that, there’s no more salvation at that point. And then the Bible says it will be 153 days later that the entire universe and planet Earth will be destroyed forever.”

As for the perfect cocktail to serve, the article didn’t mention one. So I e-mailed my colleague Bill Toland, who is the spirits and libations reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, for some suggestions. Toland contributed the following:

Death in the Afternoon

A recipe verified in the 1935 humoristic celebrities’ cocktail book titled ‘So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon’ edited by the famous journalist and author Sterling North and Carl Kroch.

As Ernest Hemingway wrote of the drink: “This was arrived at by the author and three officers of the H.M.S. Danae after having spent seven hours overboard trying to get Capt. Bra Saunders’ fishing boat off a bank where she had gone with us in a N.W. gale.”

It seems highly unlikely that Hemingway would have drunk this concoction if given a choice. In most cases the mixture ruins both ingredients, which would have annoyed him. In this case, they most likely took advantage of the mixture to ward off the effects of a bad day in rough water, as champagne was considered a sea-sickness ‘cure’.

– 1 jigger of absinthe added to a champagne flute
– Add iced champagne until it attains the proper opalescence.
– A small amount of sugar or Gomme syrup can be added to round it out, especially when using a verte absinthe.

If Death in the Afternoon doesn’t sound like your thing, Toland also suggests a Blue Heaven, which is Amaretto, rum, Blue Curacao, pineapple juice and a pineapple garnish.

He adds, “There are also drinks called the Dead Bastard, the Gates of Hell, and, of course, the Kamikaze. None of these are really classic cocktails in any sense, but the names seem to fit.”

As for music selection, I’d like to hear from readers. What would be your Judgment Day playlist?


For beer drinkers, there’s also a drink for you. Evan Benn, the official beer taster for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, offered this:

Stone Levitation Ale would be a no-brainer — a flavorful but not super strong craft beer that will help lift you up to meet your maker…Cocktail-wise, I don’t know if it fits the theme, but the drink that I’ve been seeing all over at fancy-schmancy cocktail bars is the Corpse Reviver No. 2. It’s a mix of gin, lemon juice and some other stuff that’s killer.