High in the north, where the land seems to sink into the sea, where people in their coarsely knitted sweaters trudge over barren fields and “bad weather” is the name for a typical summer’s day, that is where the island Nordstrand is located.

Today, it is only a peninsula, but in the time I want to tell you about, it was not yet connected to the mainland and its people lived in a separate, isolated world.


Nevertheless, they were known far and wide very early on. But less for their ambition or the beauty of their nature than for their distinctive drinking habits.

For up and down the country the saying went: “Man drinks, horse drinks – on Nordstrand it’s the other way around.”


This island was once the home of the Reverend Georg Bleyer.

According to records, he was also happy for his new flock, but horrified that some of his sheep were drinking as if the Flood was imminent, he decided to fight it.

But it was not enough for him to preach from the pulpit, so he went from farm to farm, and in the rooms he personally raged against the devil’s alcohol.


One day in 1872 he was invited to a baptism at the farm of the farmer Peter Georg Johannsen.

For the hard-drinking inhabitants of Nordstrand, this was always a welcome change from the island’s everyday life and a chance to get drunk to their heart’s content.

But the pastor decided to keep a sharp eye on his flock and to put a stop to this bad habit.


But the farmer Johannsen was no fool either.

He gave the kitchen maid the order to give every coffee a good shot of rum, except the pastor’s.

To prevent the pastor from smelling the alcohol, a thick cap of whipped cream was placed on each cup and then served.

The plan worked out and the christening party became more and more cheerful and exuberant.


But this made the pastor suspicious. In an unobserved moment he took a sip from his neighbour’s cup and discovered the sacrilege.

He is said to have exclaimed “Oh, you Pharisees” – with which not only the child but also the drink was baptized on this day.


Today, this coffee is drunk all over North Frisia and every housewife, no matter whether on Sylt, Pellworm, Amrum, Föhr or Nordstrand, claims to offer the only true Pharisee.

That is why there is no universal recipe for him and coffee is generally prepared by feeling.

In any case, a good shot of rum is a must, normally 40 ml per cup.


Some people will find 40 ml of rum a bit much, but the following story is recommended:

Once a guest from Flensburg ordered a Pharisee and was not at all satisfied with the drink. It was “bland” and “tasteless”, he let the host know, and that he was not prepared to pay for it.

The dispute finally ended up in court, where the judge tasted a Pharisee with 2 cl rum. With the result that the defendant was proved right. “The original Pharisee is described as a high-proof, alcoholic beverage, and for this, 2cl is far from adequate.”

What a wise decision!