Kage Baker always took care to lift a glass of something or other on this day, in honour of that finest (so far,anyway) writer in the English language: William Shakespeare. Son of a glover, husband of a really patient woman, father of Hamnet and Susan … and not Wiilliam de Vere or Francis Bacon.
As Kage used to say, “I know, because I’ve asked all three of ’em.” And a poet who is drinking your beer is very unlikely to lie to you, I do assure you all. So, Happy William Shakespeare’s birthday, Dear Readers!
Lifting frequent glasses of anything is a good idea today anyway – it is HOT. So was yestreday, and the day before; it’s going to be warm for at least the next week. I shall stay indoors in the air conditioning. drinking copiously.
On the subject of drinks, I am currently on a quest today to reproduce one of the only soft drinks I have every liked: Coke Blak. It was not around for long (2006 to 2008, aside from a few lost-in-time refugees in the backs of coolers), and never in a large size – wimpy little 8-ounce bottles, redeemed only by their classic shape and nifty gold and black colouring. What delighted me was that it was not excessively carbonated nor over-sweet, although the US version was artificially sweetened. (The European and Canadian versions were sweetened with sugar.)
But it’s main virtue is that it was Coke mixed with black coffee. Yep, actual caffeine-rich coffee – and I found it delicious. Even with the damned aspartame in it. Kage herself, a life-long Coca Cola devotee, thought it was ghastly and shuddered melodramatically when I drank it. In fact, almost everyone did – I was apparently the only person in the USA who actually liked it, and even I couldn’t drink enough of it to keep the stuff in production.
However, Coke has now come out with a new product – Coke Free, which is reportedly lightly sweetened with cane sugar and stevia (from the leaves of ( Stevia rebaudiana), which contains several high-content glycosides; these are cousins of sugar, which cannot be used for alcohol – they won’t ferment, sadly enough. But they sweeten like crazy, and both Pepsico and the Coca Cola Co. have developed proprietary sweeteners out of the stuff.
To the uttermost point: Coca Cole is now using a combination of Stevia rebaudiana extract and cane sugar, (which is not only REAL, but is a source for rum!), to make brand new Coke Life. It has a green label and comes in generous 12-ounce bottles and cans. It’s not any better for you than ordinary Coke, but I suspect the flavour will be more to my liking. As soon as can find some, anyway.
What I am going to do, therefore, is mix Coke Life with my special coffee from the Teahouse of the Mullah Nasruddin’s Donkey, which I have been drinking at Faires since I was 19 years old. For the last 7 years, as I do fewer Faires, I have been ordering it on the Internet, so that the soothing decoctions of the dear Mullah can ease my heart and soul at home. And now that the heat of the year is beginning on the edge of Los Angeles’ desert lands, I am prepared to deal with it.
It will be my own version of Coke Blak – only with even better ingredients. Really, really good coffee, and sweeteners that are somewhat more natural; it’ll be yummy. I think. I hope.
And in the meantime, I shall continue toasting Sweet William with ordinary iced coffee – ’cause it’s still the Mullah’s blend: and over ice with a bit of cream, it is good for the soul and for all poets.
Kage would drink that right readily.