Today I’m taking just a bit of liberty with my Shakespeare theme and writing about one of my favorite Valentine’s Day movies, Shakespeare in Love. If you’ve never seen it, then you absolutely must. Tonight, if you can. Or this weekend. Plan a date around it. It’s intelligent and sweet and beautifully shot, and it has, hands down, some of the most romantic lines about love ever spoken. The film tells the tale of an imaginary love affair between William Shakespeare and Viola de Lesseps, played by Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow. As the story begins, the unfortunate Will seems to have lost his muse and cannot write, but he finds it again in Viola, a noblewoman with whom he falls hopelessly in love. She returns that love, but it is indeed hopeless, since she is betrothed to another and Will is already married and has children with Anne Hathaway. Even if these minor details didn’t stand in the way of a future together, there would still be the matter of class difference that would render their love impossible. I’m powerfully drawn to their story because they allow themselves to fall completely, despite the fact that they are aware of the impossibilities right from the start. Viola wants “a love that overthrows life. Unbiddable, ungovernable – like a riot in the heart, and nothing to be done, come ruin or rapture.” And Will believes that “love denied blights the soul we owe to God.” He loves Viola “like a sickness and its cure.” For some of you, these may seem like lines at which you roll your eyes, tolerable only by the most hopeless and incurable romantics among us. I happen to be a card carrying member of that group. Today is our holiday. This is the day when we celebrate love and all its perfect imperfections. This is the day when it’s okay to lay your soul bare. So go ahead and recite some poetry, cook that dinner, send those flowers, or write that letter. You can go back to reality tomorrow. Will and Viola’s love story is beautifully intertwined with that of Romeo and Juliet, who also threw their hearts into a love that was unbidden and ungovernable. They did so with wild abandon, and it didn’t end well for them, because sometimes love that seems impossible really is impossible. Even in its most limited form, however, love will always be a thing of beauty. It will always inspire awe, and it will always be what drives us to create, all in an effort to turn our hearts inside out so the world can see what we hold within them.
For today’s cocktail, I used equal parts Bluecoat gin and Sandeman Ruby Port as my base. The botanicals in the gin added dimension to the port, which tends to be very fruit forward and seems rather simple. Think along the lines of what happens when you add herbs to fruit like in a fig and rosemary jam, for example. I then reached for St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram to bring in some warmth and spice, along with lemon juice, and a passion fruit syrup from Liber & Co. No explanation needed there. I finished up with DRAM Apothecary Palo Santo bitters which are supposed to help open our minds and hearts to inspiration. Who is your muse? Do they know it? Tell them. It’ll cause a riot in their hearts. Cheers everyone. Happy Valentine’s Day!
You Are My Muse
Add all ingredients to a shaker tin with ice and shake vigorously until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange peel heart. Enjoy!