Caroline Bicks and Michelle Ephraim met at a Shakespeare seminar both were attending. The two English professors (Bicks teaches at Boston College, Ephraim at Worcester Polytechnic Institute) bonded over their shared interest in the bard’s plays, and soon found ways to “interweave our friendship with our Shakespeare scholarship,” Ephraim said.
Their first joint project, a blog called Everyday Shakespeare, launched in 2009. “We started the blog as an outlet to have some fun with Shakespeare, outside of our normal academic fun,” said Bicks, laughing. Their next joint effort was a natural progression, she added. “We do a lot of thinking and having fun with Shakespeare over a good drink, so we figured, let’s do a cocktail book. It was a very organic process.”
The result is “Shakespeare, Not Stirred: Cocktails for Your Everyday Dramas,” a book that blends literature and liquor (with some hors d’oeuvres thrown in!). All of the cocktails are “inspired by the characters themselves and their predicaments,” said Bicks. “Some of them are twists on classics, such as the Kate Shrewdriver, from ‘The Taming of the Shrew,’ which is essentially a screwdriver, but with a little more bitter lemon, since Kate’s a bitter character.”
“It was hard work, believe it or not, to get the cocktails to taste really good and also to have them keyed to concepts connected to the characters,” Ephraim said. “We got a lot of feedback from friends, we had a lot of tasting parties. It was quite in the spirit of the book, which is bringing people together through Shakespeare.”
Added Bicks: “The drinks — yes, they are a key part of the book. But really, the heart and soul of the book is talking about relating Shakespeare to your everyday lives.”
Bicks and Ephraim will read at 7 p.m. Thursday at Brookline Booksmith. A free sample cocktail will be served, courtesy of Winestone in Chestnut Hill.