Thursday, November 18, 2010

Drunken Shakespeare

Yes, you read that correctly. Drunken Shakespeare. In a university setting, what better way could you possibly spend a Saturday night than with a large group of inhibitionless friends hacking our way through the Bard's works? Answer: you can't. It was glorious.

I have always been a Shakespeare buff -- my father was proudly taking me to the theatre as soon as I was old enough to stay up that late. High school English classes were dull, because I was more familiar with the plays than the others students (and sometimes the teacher, too). I wrote my extended essay on Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, the dubious 'friends' of Hamlet. And without provocation, I will happily pick up one of the big tragedies to read through some monologue or other.

And now, my madness is being bolstered by the encouraging warbles of everyone else.

Eminently Shakespearian characters do not like your Pyramus & Thisbe

The booze may not be necessary, but it has been known work wonders. Everyone is more likely to jump in and claim a character for their own, and hilarity always ensues. The centuries-old text comes alive, and sometimes the characters even get a bizarre makeover. Imagine, if you will, Macbeth as played by Marlon Brando. Or Midsummer Night's peanut gallery composed of Statler and Waldorf (OOOHOHOHOHO!).

Since the weather is turning Turk-- uh, cold, on this occasion, I thought some late-Autumn drinks would be appropriate. Something warm and fuzzy. Ultimately, I settled on Mulled Wine and Hot Buttered Rum. Both feel like grown-up versions of tea or hot chocolate, and the alcohol blends well with the other tastes well enough that you almost don't notice it. This calls for caution, of course: Othello is much less eloquent when he's passed out on the floor. But if you serve it warm-to-hot, folks are less likely to drink too fast.

"Is this a dagger I see before me?"

Unfortunately, I have yet to find an exact recipe for mulled wine that works 100% of time. If anyone has one, please let me know! I'm tired of having to wing it, not knowing if it will taste good or not. In essence, I tossed these ingredients in approximated amounts together. Heat -- but don't boil -- them in a pot before ladling them out into mugs.
  • 3 bottles Beaujolais // I'd try a Merlot next time
  • zest of 3 lemons
  • zest of 3 oranges
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • cloves
  • nutmeg
  • allspice
  • pinch cardamom // don't overdo it. Really
I didn't even have to worry about the Hot Buttered Rum, as one of the night's actresses was adept at throwing it together at moment's notice. I learned later that she got the recipe from the Food Network website, which surprised me; I'm usually suspicious of the kind of recipes one might find there. But thumbs-up on this one -- warm, fuzzy, and delicious. I want to drink this every night of the upcoming Chicago winter. So Cheers to you, Witch #1 / Horatio / whomever-the-hell-else-you-were!

Hot Buttered Rum
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch salt
  • Bottle dark rum
  • Boiling water
In a bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Refrigerate until almost firm. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture into 12 small mugs. Pour about 3 ounces of rum into each mug (filling about halfway). Top with boiling water (to fill the remaining half), stir well, and serve immediately.

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