Shakespeare, Not Stirred by Caroline Bicks and Michelle Ephraim
Published by Perigee, 176 pages, $17
Funny as Shakespeare was, he couldn’t have predicted the wild, pun-crazy irreverence these local English professors have cooked up. Using dishy talk the Bard didn’t live to know, they present sardonic vignettes of various characters and their dramatic dilemmas, followed by a drink recipe. For instance, a chapter entitled “Shall I Campari to a Summer’s Day?” features recipes for romantic occasions, including the boozy smoothie “Rosalind’s Gender Blender.”
With a refreshing modern perspective, these rapscallion professors feign talking to Shakespeare’s characters, sometimes like fed-up schoolteachers, sometimes like cynical college kids. Really, they wonder, shouldn’t Hamlet have gone into therapy? They consider Antony’s main squeeze: “Call Cleopatra what you will—floozy, home wrecker, destroyer of the Roman Triumvirate (blah, blah, blah, she’s heard it all.)” Richard III’s self-pity gets their mockery: “Face it, Dick, you’re a middle child with shoe lifts.” Their take on the power-grabbing king is, naturally, followed by a recipe for “Richard’s Gimme-Let.”
Those mischievously described drinks, along with some snacks (like “Oberon’s Spicy Fairy Wings”), are great. So too are the “Mini-Bard” plot and theme summaries, which are more academic but as perfectly portioned as a carefully poured shot, so you can actually learn some Shakespeare between sips.
From page 59: Macbeth loses his job and his head faster than you can say “Highlander,” so it’s easy to forget that when Macbeth begins, he’s the Big Man on the Battlefield. Even before he sets foot onstage, his army comrades are raving about how he sliced open a Scottish traitor “from the nave to th’ chops.” His sword was so full of man-heat that it “smoked with bloody execution”!