King Lear is one of Shakespeare’s major tragedies, considered by many to actually be his greatest. It features some big Game of Thrones level drama that truly has a little something for everyone in it. There’s family dysfunction, sibling rivalry, British history, major gore, and a mad king who has a penchant for taking off his clothes. It’s difficult to sum up the plot action of the play without getting carried away, but the basic storyline involves Lear wanting to divide up his kingdom among his daughters because he realizes that he’s getting up in age. Everything goes wrong after that. Lear descends into madness, civil wars ensue, and almost every major character dies by the time the play has ended. Today’s post focuses on the seemingly minor character of the Fool who, at first glance, appears to do nothing more than serve as comic relief from the onslaught of tragic events that are occurring. The Fool certainly does diffuse the dramatic tension in the play with his wit, humor, and sarcasm, but there is far more to his importance than initially meets the eye. He is tremendously insightful, and his commentary on Lear’s behavior illuminates the latter’s poor judgment, impatience, and self-absorption. By casting this kind of light on Lear’s foolishness, the Fool in turn becomes the symbol of the truth, which serves to illustrate one of the major themes of the play: appearance vs. reality. Lear is a king, second only to God, and yet he is being challenged by a Fool who seems to be the only one who can get him to see the error of his ways. In addition to being the sorely needed nudge to Lear’s conscience, the Fool is also his most loyal subject and his protector, and he remains so right up until the end. His steadfastness helps to elicit the sympathy for Lear that is necessary for the audience to see him as the tragic hero that he is. Do you have someone in your life that you know will always tell you the truth? When you know that you’re wrong, do you avoid them or do you seek them out? And more importantly, do you listen when they say the things that may be so hard for you to hear?
My thought for today’s cocktail was to use ingredients that bumped things up in terms of complexity, because even though the Fool appears to be simple, he’s actually quite the opposite. I started out with Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal as my base spirit. Mezcal is a lot like tequila, but the roasted agave gives it an even smokier and earthier quality that creates layers of flavor. I went for Ancho Reyes Chile liqueur next because it intensified the smokiness and added some real heat to the drink. I could easily have been satisfied with using just lime juice next, but I chose instead to make a chili lime shrub, adding yet another layer and amplifying the heat even more. Agave simple syrup was mandatory, and the Black Cloud Charred Cedar bitters married perfectly with the smokiness of the Del Maguey. The end result was a cocktail that was based on a simple sour recipe, but made with ingredients that made it seem like so much more than that. Cheers everyone. Happy Wednesday!
Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously until very cold. Strain and poor into a cocktail glass, Nick & Nora glass, or other small footed glass. Garnish with a lime strip. Enjoy!