As a follow-up to my last post depicting famous writers drinking their favorite concoctions, I switch gears a bit by presenting you with some pop culture and the marriage between movies and those infamous cocktails. We all love a good movie, and in my case, especially ones that feature classic or modern cocktails. You don’t have to be a cocktail aficionado to appreciate the dramatic effect they play on the big screen. I can still remember many of the movie scenes below and the cocktails featured in them. If you’re a fan like me, who can forget James Bond’s “shaken, not stirred” Martini, Don Draper’s trusty Old Fashioned or Carrie Bradshaw’s fruity Cosmo?
An onscreen cocktail may not only be memorable, but also a key part of a character’s identity. (Just try imaging The Big Lebowski’s The Dude sipping something other than a White Russian. It doesn’t work.) So, it should come as no surprise that some of the most famous and popular drinks in cocktail history are tied to a fictional character.
I am listing the top on-screen drinkers and their signature tipples. So turn on the TV (or pull up YouTube or Netflix) and mix up some drinks—it’s the perfect way to spend a summer afternoon. If you would like the actual ingredients to these cocktails, just let me know and I will send. Cheers!
The Dude, White Russian
You can thank the Coen Brothers’ 1998 cult classic, The Big Lebowski, for the revival of this creamy guilty pleasure, the White Russian. In most scenes, the movie’s lead character, The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges, is mixing one up or sipping one. (In all, he consumes nine during the film.) Even when he’s manhandled into the back of a limo, he never spills a drop of his precious White Russian: “Careful man, there’s a beverage here!”
This drink has a love-hate relationship with many people. The love comes from its taste, the hate, comes from the mess created when mixing it, especially at a public bar. The Dude made the White Russian an instant celebrity amongst pot heads, hippies, and lazy members of society.
Don Draper, Old Fashioned
Cocktails are such a part of Mad Men that they deserve an Emmy. Too many to list here, but if you’re fan of the show, let me know and I will send them to you. And though Jon Hamm’s Don Draper has enjoyed a variety of classic tipples, he loves the Old Fashioned the most. The historic combination of bitters, sugar, water and spirit is the definition of a cocktail. While Draper prefers his with rye whiskey, it’s tasty with most any type of liquor. Dom Draper is household name these days, and with Mad Men constantly involved in online debates, twitter trending, and facebook status frenzies, the drink Mr. Draper commonly orders has had a huge return to the screen. It’s a classic that stands the test of time, but thanks to Mad Men it is being ordered again by the 21-35 crowd.
Carrie Bradshaw, Cosmopolitan
It’s hard to picture Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie Bradshaw without a Martini glass in her hand. Throughout Sex and the City’s six memorable seasons, Bradshaw and her group of friends sipped dozens of Cosmos across the five boroughs. The vodka, orange, lime and cranberry concoctions came to not only represent the show but also that entire era in New York. Mix one up and relive the late ‘90s. Ms. Bradshaw and her girls headed out to the bar in no less than 1 scene per episode it seemed, and what were they ordering? Cosmos. Now Cosmopolitans were pretty big in the 80′s then lost it’s allure until the ladies on Sex and the City brought it back. Ironically, it’s out of style again for twenty-somethings as it was so well overdone in the 2000′s.
Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, Manhattan
In ‘Some Like it Hot’, Billy Wilder’s classic slapstick cross-dressing comedy, one of the best scenes is when Sugar (Marilyn Monroe), Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) mix up a Manhattan in a hot water bottle on a train. While I prefer to use a mixing glass, it’s good to know a hot water bottle will work in a pinch.
Nick & Nora Charles, “Nick & Nora” Dry Martini
Nick and Nora Charles are two favorite on-screen imbibers. Aside from being top-notch detectives in ‘The Thin Man’ movie series, they’re self-proclaimed cocktail experts. When explaining how to properly shake a Dry Martini, Nick says, “the important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to a fox-trot, a Bronx to a two-step time, a Dry Martini you always shake to waltz time.”
Brian Flanagan, Alabama Slammer & Sex on the Beach
Cocktail, the 1988 Tom Cruise film, is so bad it’s good. While we probably shouldn’t admit it, we’ll watch it any time it’s on TV. And our favorite moment is when Cruise’s character, the “world’s last barman poet” Brian Flanagan, climbs on top of the bar in a crowded ‘80s club and recites a composition about the era’s most popular beverages. So mix up an Alabama Slammer or a Sex on the Beach and watch the scene. Or, as Flanagan says, “if you want to get loaded, why don’t you just order a shot?”
Also, the Red Eye: Cocktail was a pivotal movie in my life and in Tom Cruises career. It proclaimed him as a pretty decent actor and it made me realize how interested I was in the bar industry. In this film, the scene where Cruise’s character Brian Flanagin first walks into a bar looking for a job, he meets his eventual employer and mentor Doug, who’s mixing up none other than the Red Eye. Not exactly my cup of tea, but for years a favorite of many for morning hangovers.
The Orange Whip: Blues Brothers
This one is a bit different and you may not hear it ordered at the bar much these days, or at all, but for many who grew up during the height of the Blues Brothers cult like craze, this drink was well known. It’s gotten some pop culture love over the last decade with several references in TV shows and films, but it became a star when it was ordered at the bar in this film.
French 75: Casablanca
Ok, so I’m a bit young to have been around during this time, but it’s a classic that has stood the test of time. It gained fame in the classic movie Casablanca when Yvonne’s boyfriend orders one, and the rest is history.
[Bonus] Chianti: Silence of the Lambs
Ok, so this one isn’t a cocktail, but I wanted to throw it in as a bonus because it’s a drink that everyone knows whether they actually drink/enjoy wine or not. Who doesn’t remember the jaw dropping scene when Hannibal Lector admits he once “ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti” in reference to a former victim.