With ale, wine and distillates appearing frequently in Shakespeare’s 40-or-so plays and 159 poems, he was something of a literary expert on all things liquor.
“I would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety” – Henry V
One of the most famous lines from Henry V, Boy’s line “I would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety” could be echoed by many a celebrity in modern times. Not so much the pressures of superstar status, the Boy here is referring to the thrill of patriotic service as the English prepare to attack the French.
“I drink to the general joy of the whole table” – Macbeth
One of the most dramatically tense scenes in Shakespeare, Macbeth has just entered the banqueting hall packed with guests to learn his one-time friend Banquo, who he subsequently arranged to be murdered, has indeed met an untimely end. But instead of feel relief, as he walks to his seat he is distressed to discover it is not empty – rather Banquo’s ghost occupies his spot. Macbeth speaks to the ghost, which remains invisible to everyone else, prompting his wife to make excuses for him. This continues for a while, with Macbeth’s eventual toast, “I drink to the general joy of the whole table”, offering little reassurance to his guests.
“Eat and drink as friends” – The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew is another of Shakespeare’s comedies which essentially sees a number of men attempting to woo an unsuspecting woman – in this instance it is Bianca, a lady forbidden from marrying until her sister does. Just before this quote, three potential suitors realise they are all vying for the same “prize” and have a brief argument, until Tranio, a “trusty” servant, convinces them they can remain friends while “competing” for Bianca’s hand. A quote representing Shakespeare’s strategy of ending a row with the offer of a quick drink!