“And the award goes to….”
Cocktails and the movies have been co-stars for 100 years.
Hollywood has always loved a cocktail. Bars are often used as critical plot points (“Here’s looking at you kid”), and the drinks sometimes become the stars of the screen themselves – who can think of The Big Lebowski without smacking their lips at the thought of a White Russian?
The days of grimy soulless multiplexes are numbered. Luxury cinemas, with sofa seating, table service and fully stocked bars are popping up across the country, restoring some long-lost Hollywood glamour to a night at the flicks. Where you once gorged on Maltesers while being kicked in the back, you now find yourself eating a bowl of calamari, appreciating the directors’ lighting and sipping on a cocktail.
Going to the cinema is escapism, a permission slip to take time out. A well-made drink is a romantic ritual that also closes the door on the humdrum. Both are visual treats and sensual experiences. That’s the magic of film and the magic of a good cocktail.
Here are seven silver-screen classic cocktail recommendations for sipping at the movies.
- Old Fashioned
The oldest documented cocktail with its Rat Pack allure is perfect for big screen viewing. Just the right amount of sweetness with a good strong kick, which if made with a high quality block of ice, won’t dilute, warm up or lose consistency as fast as other drinks, especially if a high ABV bourbon like Wild Turkey 101 is used. Also, the liquid levels mean you won’t be nipping off for a comfort break at the crucial moment!
50ml Wild Turkey 101
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3-4 dashes Angostura Bitters
Place the sugar and Angostura bitters in a mixing glass and muddle with a little whisky. Add ice and stir, slowly adding the Bourbon over a 2-3 minute period. Strain the cocktail into a rocks glass containing a snuggly fitting block of ice. Pare an orange peel and express the oils from the back of the peel over the drink. Rub the peel around the rim of the glass and drop the peel into the glass.
ICONIC HOLLYWOOD MOMENT: Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love
Named after the most featured skyline in film, the classy Manhattan has been around since the 1860s and has survived mobsters, recessions and prohibition. The first drink to make use of vermouth as a blend, the Manhattan inaugurated an avalanche of American cocktails and symbolises the American dream. It packs a lot of flavours to keep you entertained if the film doesn’t. You can drink it in an old-fashioned or martini glass, or perhaps in a hot water bottle, as Marilyn did in Some Like It Hot. And the cherry is tasty to nibble on when the calamari runs out.
50 ml Wild Turkey 101
25 ml sweet vermouth
3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir the ingredients in a mixing glass with plenty of ice for 45 seconds, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
ICONIC HOLLYWOOD MOMENT: Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot
- Pina Colada
A bit of a guilty pleasure this one. The Pina Colada was invented in a luxury hotel bar in Puerto Rico for wealthy tourists in the 1950s, but somehow along the way it’s been made to carry parasols, cherries, half a pineapple garnish… But made with a quality Jamaican coconut rum like Koko Kanu, its smooth sweetness is a holiday in a glass with a comforting texture to replace the film-watching ice cream. It’s time to restore its faded glamour. After all, Hollywood legend Joan Crawford apparently claimed the Caribe Hilton’s creation was “better than slapping Bette Davis in the face”. Just leave out the cherries and the umbrellas.
50 ml KOKO KANU
25 ml Pineapple juice
20 ml single cream
4 chunks of pineapple
5 ml lime juice
Blend all ingredients in a mixer and serve in a Pina Colada glass. Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg and two pineapple leaves.
ICONIC HOLLYWOOD MOMENT: Rupert Holmes’ The Pina Colada Song has been featured in multiple films such as Mars Attacks 1996, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 2013, Shrek 2001 and many others.
The Negroni was created in Florence in 1919 when an Italian nobleman, Count Camillo, asked for a slug of gin in his Americano. It has had many screen moments. Orson Welles famously said about the Negroni: “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.” Federico Fellini, the Italian movie director produced a commercial for Campari, called Oh, che bel paesaggio! (“Oh, what a beautiful landscape!”) Bitter, but with huge flavours, some people will never learn to like it. But for those who like their palate stimulated as well as their eyes, this drink will offer many rewards.
25 ml Campari
25 ml Cinzano 1757
25 ml gin
Fill a short rocks glass with ice, then layer up the three ingredients (adding the gin first to enjoy the colour change as the darker spirits are added). Garnish with an Orange zest.
HOLLYWOOD CLAIM TO FAME: Vivien Leigh supped them on the veranda in her 1961 hit The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone, which also starred a young Warren Beatty. Expect to see it in more films soon as its popularity continues to rise.
- Tom Collins
The Tom Collins is the most classic of gin cocktails, (so classic there’s a glass named after it) and an American favourite. The king of cooling drinks, it will refresh you through the steamiest of scenes and keep you looking interested in the dreariest. It’s the perfect balance of sweet, sour and strong when made to the right recipe. Ensure glass is well topped with ice to keep dilution to a minimum.
50 ml Bulldog Gin
25 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
12.5 ml sugar syrup
Add the gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup to a Collins glass full of ice and top up with soda. Garnish with a lemon wedge and a maraschino cherry. Add more ice if there’s room.
ICONIC HOLLYWOOD MOMENT: Drunk by Robert de Niro in Meet the Parents, 2000 and Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, 1955
- French 75 Cocktail
“Of all the gin joints in all the towns, in all the world…” Casablanca is set around a lot champagne cocktails; the French 75 ordered by Ingrid Bergman by far the coolest.
With three parts gin and one part sugar, this drink is bitter sweet (like the film’s ending) and will hold your hand through an epic drama. Named after the French M1897 75mm artillery gun by British soldiers who created the drink from the only ingredients they had – London gin and local champagne – it can weather the storm.
37.5 ml Bulldog Gin
12.5 ml lemon juice
6 ml sugar syrup
Shake the first three ingredients with ice. Pour into a champagne saucer and top up slowly with champagne. Garnish with a lemon zest twist.
HOLLYWOOD CLAIM TO FAME: Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, 1942
- Vesper Martini
Probably the best known movie cocktail, the Vesper Martini was dreamt up by Ian Fleming at Duke’s Bar in St James and made famous in his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. In chapter seven, Bond directs a casino barman through his specific recipe and he later names his invention after the beautiful double agent, Vesper Lynd. It is, famously, ‘shaken, not stirred’, which aerates the drink, making it ice-cold and longer lasting for a blockbuster. It is quick and easy to make if parking was tricky and you find yourself at the back of the queue.
60ml Bulldog Gin
10ml Lillet Blanc
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon zest twist.
HOLLYWOOD MOMENT: Eva Green in Casino Royale, 2006