Bringing The World Home To You

© 2024 WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
120 Friday Center Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
919.445.9150 | 800.962.9862
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bard At The Bar: Shakespeare-Inspired Cocktail Recipes

Caroline Bicks and Michelle Ephraim are longtime friends and fans of Shakespeare. They blog about the bard at their site “Everyday Shakespeare” and they teach his work at their respective colleges: Bicks is an associate professor of English at Boston College and Ephraim is an associate professor of English at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

One day, over a drink, inspiration struck: Shakespeare-themed cocktails! The result is “Shakespeare, Not Stirred: Cocktails for Your Everyday Dramas.” The book contains drinks and cocktail snacks inspired by Shakespearean heroes and heroines, as well as tidbits of information about Shakespearean life and times.

The pair brings in a few samples for Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson to try: “The Drowning Ophelia,” “The Juliet Emoji-to,” “Kate’s Shrew-driver” and the dip “The Motley-ful.” All four recipes are below.

The Drowning Ophelia

Recipes & images from “Shakespeare, Not Stirred” by Caroline Bicks and Michelle Ephraim, reprinted with the permission of Perigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Copyright © 2015 by Caroline Bicks and Michelle Ephraim.

Like many Shakespeareans, we’re curious about the sketchy circumstances of Ophelia’s death by drowning in Hamlet. Gertrude makes it sound like an accident, but other characters consider it a suicide. There’s enough suspicion around her death to deny her all the religious bells and whistles at her funeral. She does get a semi-holy burial, though (which Hamlet proceeds to desecrate anyway, but we digress). So many questions are left unanswered: Did she kill herself because she was heartbroken over Hamlet’s douchey treatment of her? Was she so distressed about her father’s murder that she lost her mind and thought her dress was a boat? Or was she just a klutz “clambering” up a tree to hang flower garlands? What was she thinking before she got sucked into the muck? (Maybe, Damn, why did I pick the heavy beading today of all days?) We’ll never know for sure, but we think she’d appreciate this pretty blue cocktail garnished with edible flowers. It may not have saved her in the end, but it definitely would have made those last moments less of a drag.

Edible flowers

1 egg white

Dusting of sugar

1 ounce vodka

1/4 ounce blue curaçao

3/4 ounce St.-Germain elderflower liqueur

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Prepare the edible flowers beforehand by lightly brushing the flowers with egg white. Dust with sugar, shaking off any excess. Allow to dry. Shake all the liquid ingredients together with ice. Strain and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with the flowers.

Juliet’s Emoji-to

When you’re a teenager living in a Shakespeare play, you can’t just spew your emotions out on social media. Especially if you’re a young lady from a noble family, like thirteen-year-old Juliet Capulet. She has to cram all of her larger-than-life passions into tidy metaphors and controlled iambic pentameter lines. So when she’s freaking out about how her parents will never ever ever let her be with her One True Love because he’s a Montague and because they just don’t understand anything and don’t care about how miserable she is because they don’t even know what True Love is . . . it comes out as: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other word would smell as sweet.” If only Juliet could have let loose in Emoji. And then shared it all on Twitter. And Instagram. And Snapchat. And Tumblr.

2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

5 fresh cherries, pitted

1/2 lime, cut into four pieces

2 ounces white rum

Splash of seltzer

Lime wedge

Muddle the mint, sugar, and cherries at the bottom of a heavy glass (if possible, one with a smiley face decoration). Add the lime pieces and muddle again. Fill the glass with ice and pour in the rum. Stir gently. Add a splash of seltzer, squeeze in juice from the lime wedge, and drop it on top to finish.

Kate’s Shrew-driver

At the end of The Taming of the Shrew, Kate’s made the bumpy transition from cranky single girl to married lady. She says she’s into the obedient wife thing and gives a whole speech telling women to “place your hands below your husband’s foot”—but is she for real? After all, Petruchio literally dragged her through the mud and starved her during their honeymoon. We’ll never know for sure, but we like to imagine that Kate’s happy at least once a week as she’s serving these cold, ironic Shrewdrivers up to her married girlfriends at her Wednesday-morning Book Club Brunch. We recommend pairing this sour-lemon version of the classic screwdriver with Fifty Shades of Grey or anything by Betty Friedan.

Superfine sugar

1 1/2 ounces limoncello

1 1/2 ounces lemon-flavored vodka

5 ounces fresh orange juice

4–6 dashes grapefruit or lemon bitters (depending on your mood)

Lemon wedge and slice

Rim a highball glass with the lemon wedge and dip the rim in sugar.

Fill the glass halfway with ice. Pour in the limoncello, vodka, and orange

juice. Stir in the bitters. Garnish with a lemon slice.

The Motley-ful

There’s no better occasion than an office party to really let loose and share all those opinions you’ve kept bottled up from nine to five. After three trips to the punch bowl, you’re feeling the spirit of Shakespeare’s candid and witty Fools who love to give their higher-ups the straight dope. Like when King Lear’s Fool ribs him for letting his bossy daughters wear the pants in the family. Or when As You Like It’s Touchstone (the original “motley fool”) tells Rosalind that her boyfriend’s love poems are hackneyed drivel and asks: “Why do you infect yourself with them?” She could handle the truth, so why shouldn’t your supervisor be able to when you give her some tough love about her new nose job? Not everyone will be your fan come Monday morning, but they’re sure to keep coming back for more of this ful.

1 medium onion, chopped

2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 (19-ounce) can fava beans, drained

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Lemon slice

Pita bread, cut into small triangles and toasted

Sauté the onion and tomatoes in oil on medium heat, until the onion starts to become translucent. Turn down the heat to medium-low and add the fava beans and garlic. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the cumin, coriander, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree. Serve topped with the cilantro and lemon slice, accompanied by toasted pita triangles.


  • Caroline Bicks, PhD, associate professor of English at Boston College and co-author of “Shakespeare, Not Stirred.”
  • Michelle Ephraim, PhD, associate professor of English at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and co-author of “Shakespeare, Not Stirred.”

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Clockwise from top left: The Drowning Ophelia, The Motley-ful, Kate's Shrew-driver and Juliet's Emoji-to. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
Clockwise from top left: The Drowning Ophelia, The Motley-ful, Kate's Shrew-driver and Juliet's Emoji-to. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)