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Waitress

Image Credit: Waitress, 2007

Y’all didn’t think I’d let Pie Month go by without talking about the ultimate in cinematic pie experiences, did you? Frankly, I was shocked to see that I haven’t covered Waitress (Disc/Download) before now. It’s one of my favorite movies, and I watch it every year the night before Thanksgiving, on what we call “Pie Night”- a glorious evening when my husband and I eat all the pie we won’t have room for after the next day’s feast. Trust me when I say that Pie Night is the greatest holiday of the year.

Why is this the best movie to watch on our annual pastry binge? Because it features Keri Russell as sweet, strong heroine Jenna, a waitress who spends her days making gorgeous pies in a rural diner. Her combinations are inspired and often autobiographical, such as the “Pregnant Self Pitying Loser” Pie, and the “I Don’t Want Earl’s Baby” Pie. The pies are an outlet where she can vent frustrations about an abusive marriage, her elation over a secret affair with an OBGYN, and her fears about impending motherhood. Honestly, the movie itself feels like dessert. It’s got sweetness, a little bitterness, and just a touch of heat to make us feel all warm and cozy inside. Director Adrienne Shelley gave women a delicious gift in this movie, and I intend to eat every bite.

There are a lot of pies in this movie, but my favorite is probably the Chocolate Strawberry Oasis. I subbed white chocolate for dark, but the complexity of this drink makes it feel like one of Jenna’s lush desserts. While watching Waitress, I recommend drinking this Everybody Hates Earl Martini (because we DO all hate Earl).

Everybody Hates Earl Martini

2 oz Strawberry Vodka

1 oz White Creme de Cacao

1.5 oz White Chocolate Liqueur

1 oz Chambord Raspberry Liqueur

1 oz Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

Strawberry for garnish

Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a strawberry.

Although Jenna has some complicated romantic entanglements, the true heart of this movie lies with her friendships. The bond she forms with fellow waitresses and cantankerous diner owner (Andy Griffith) is such a joy to watch, and reminds me of what I’m most thankful for every year- good food, good drinks, and great friends. Cheers!

Blazing Saddles

Image credit: Blazing Saddles, 1974

Even though I’m not a big fan of westerns, I had to make an exception for this week’s pie pick Blazing Saddles (Disc/Download). It actually wasn’t that hard to do, since this is technically a western spoof, complete with Busby Berkeley dance number, Marlene Dietrich-inspired seductress named Lili von Shtüpp, and a whiskey-swilling Gene Wilder. Mel Brooks, you magnificent genius, you did it again. You made me spit my drink from laughing too hard.

Fair warning, the language used in this movie is sometimes difficult to hear, and in fact the film is often shown with a special introduction now. It’s actually a very progressive script for 1974 as well as today, but taken out of context, certain elements could be problematic. The thing to remember is, the ignorant racists are the ones who come off looking like fools, while the handsome black sheriff and his friends are the heroes. Like most Mel Brooks films, I don’t watch Blazing Saddles for the plot. I watch it for the one-liners, the funny character names, and the biting commentary on Hollywood and society-at-large.

The reason this movie made it into my month of pie flicks is due to the EPIC pie fight between villains, good guys, and assorted staff members of the Warner Bros. backlot. Normally I’d be sad about all these commissary pies being destroyed, but since it’s in the name of comedy, I suppose it’s okay. While watching Blazing Saddles, I recommend drinking this Pie Fight cocktail.

Pie Fight

1 oz Whiskey

1/2 oz Peach Schnapps

1 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream

2 oz Orange Juice

Whipped cream/pie crust for garnish

Combine whiskey, schnapps, Irish cream, and orange juice in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Top with whipped cream, and a piece of pie crust (I used store-bought refrigerated crust, cut out a shape, and placed in an air-fryer for 3-5 minutes to “bake”).

This cocktail is a great substitute for a cream pie, and if you’ve inexplicably found yourself with a racist sitting at your Thanksgiving table, feel free to toss it in their face. Far less clean-up than a whole dessert. Cheers!

Stand By Me

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Image credit: Stand By Me, 1986

It’s official—pie season is upon us. Although I think most of us can agree that Waitress is the ultimate pie movie to watch during the lead-up to Thanksgiving, there’s another film that highlights the true American struggle of eating a ton of baked goods in a short amount of time, while trying not to barf. From the brilliant, twisted mind of Stephen King comes this week’s Cinema Sips pick, Stand By Me (Disc/Download).

Directed by Rob Reiner, this adaptation of a King short story centers on four twelve-year-old boys who go in search of the dead body of a missing teen. With their bedrolls, canteens, and comb (thanks, Vern), they follow the train tracks from their tiny Oregon town into the wilderness. Along the way, they encounter a river full of leeches, a junkyard dog named Chopper, and a scary group of high school hoodlums (led by a menacing Kiefer Sutherland). River Phoenix is magnetic as Chris, the smart delinquent who’s protective of his sensitive friend Gordie (Wil Wheaton), while Jerry O’Connell and Corey Feldman provide some much needed comic relief. This coming-of-age story is funny, poignant, and incredibly relatable, even for those of us who didn’t grow up at the tail end of the 1950s. I think we all remember what it felt like to have schoolyard friendships that seemed like they’d last forever, but in hindsight were always destined to be temporary.

Now, back to pies. Proving his talent for storytelling, Gordie spins a fantastic yarn around the campfire about the sweet, sweet taste of revenge. In his story, a bullied teen gets back at the cruel townsfolk who taunted him by entering a pie-eating contest. Things are going well, until halfway through… well I won’t spoil it, but maybe finish your slice of pie before you watch this movie. Inspired by the gorgeous blueberry pies poor “Lardass” sinks his face into, while watching Stand By Me, I’ll be drinking this Blueberry Pie Martini.

Blueberry Pie Martini

2 oz Blueberry Vodka

½ oz Vanilla Vodka

½ oz Orange Liqueur

½ oz Blueberry Simple Syrup

1 oz Lime Juice

Fresh Blueberries (Garnish)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with blueberries.

2020 has been tough on us all. If you’re like me, maybe you’ve found yourself reaching out to friends you haven’t talked to in a long time, checking in, making sure they’re okay. As Stand By Me shows, just because you may have lost touch with someone doesn’t mean you’re not grateful for the part they played in your life. After all, someone had to bring the comb. Cheers!

V for Vendetta

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Image credit: V for Vendetta, 2006

Remember, remember, the fifth of November. In 2020, something tells me it’s the third of November we’ll be remembering for a long time to come. Though, hopefully for less violent reasons than the ones in this week’s dystopian political thriller V for Vendetta (Disc/Download). If you’re like me and haven’t watched this film in over a decade, prepare to be shocked at how much of our future it has predicted.

A mysterious virus, political unrest, fascism, mistrust in the news– take your pick of hot-button topics that have morphed from fiction to fact in the past fourteen years. It’s often easy to forget that this movie is within the comic book/superhero genre because it takes so many risks, touching on ideas and themes that are more of a powder keg than anything V could set up under Parliament. And yet the titular character has all the qualities we’ve come to recognize in our archetypal heroes: masked man, impressive fighting skills, intense origin story, complicated relationship with a female, underground lair, etc. He’s a superhero, yet his world is not a mythical Gotham– it’s my world, and yours. If Natalie Portman’s character is meant to represent the everywoman/man in this story, I guess we’re soon about to find out whether our fellow citizens are brave enough to pull that level and say… enough.

Out of all the masked men in all the enviable lairs, V is by far my favorite. He has a home filled with antiques, keeps Cat Power queued on the jukebox, watches classic films, and has fun with language. How many words start with V? Let’s ponder it while drinking this Vesperado cocktail.

Vesperado

2 oz Añejo Tequila

1/2 oz Cocchi Americano

3 dashes Orange Bitters

Blood orange slice (dried)

Stir together tequila, Cocchi Americano, and bitters in a shaker with ice. Chill, then strain into a glass filled with a large ice cube. Garnish with dried blood orange slice (or orange twist).

If this movie feels difficult or uncomfortable to watch right now, know that you’re not alone. I almost didn’t cover it because I mostly watch movies to escape; not to confirm my fears that humans are basically terrible. And yet, I absolutely think V for Vendetta is an important film for our times. It’s a reminder that we can stop this now, before things get out of hand. Before our fellow citizens lose more of their rights (or their lives), before our institutions blow up, and before democracy becomes a forgotten part of history. On the third of November, I think I know the word V would use to inspire our revolution: VOTE.

Psycho

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Image credit: Psycho, 1960.

There’s a fine line between the kind of horror movie I can handle, and the kind I can’t. A great example of a “Liz Locke-approved Scary Movie” is this week’s pick Psycho (Disc/Download). Even though Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece makes me anxious about taking a shower ever again, the psychological suspense is so well crafted that I almost welcome the terror. Plus, you know I love any movie set in a hotel ;-).

Although this film would later be remade shot-for-shot in color by Gus Van Sant, I’ll always prefer the original black-and-white version. It removes the viewer from the action a little bit, reminding us that this is fiction, and Norman Bates is not peering at me through a peephole or waiting behind a curtain with a knife in his hand. The noise I heard halfway through shampooing my hair was just the dog.

IT’S JUST THE DOG.

In his performance as a disturbed serial killer, Anthony Perkins is equal parts creepy and likeable, similar to all those other famous murderers we’ve heard about in podcasts and documentaries. You know the type: average guy next door; he wouldn’t hurt a fly. And as one of his victims, Janet Leigh’s character Marion isn’t exactly innocent, but she’s so sweet and unsuspecting of what’s about to happen to her that the viewer almost forgets she’s a “bad girl” on the run. This is what I love about Psycho– you think you understand who the criminal is in the first ten minutes, only to realize you had no idea what level of depraved criminal you’re soon about to meet.

When Marion Crane checks into the Bates Motel, she’s probably expecting to relax with her suitcase full of money and a nice cold cocktail (I know that’s what I like to do on vacation, anyway). Instead, she’s stuck talking to a sad loner about his taxidermy collection, over a pile of white bread and pitcher of water. Is this the hospitality industry or prison?? Let’s bring some fun to this lobby party with a cocktail inspired by the upcoming shower scene. While watching Psycho, I recommend drinking this 12 Cabins, 12 Vacancies cocktail.

12 Cabins, 12 Vacancies

2 oz Red Wine

1 oz Pineapple Juice

¾ oz Simple Syrup

¾ oz Lime Juice

Club Soda

Add the red wine, pineapple juice, simple syrup, and lime juice to a highball glass over ice. Top with soda water, and stir well to combine. Garnish with a dehydrated blood orange.

As blood circles the drain in one of the most artistic murder scenes ever filmed, notice how it looks remarkably like the red wine in your cocktail. Apparently Hitch used chocolate syrup, but personally I prefer a boozier option. This is a refreshing drink that’s easy to refill as you watch Norman descend deeper and deeper into madness. But then again, don’t we all go a little mad sometimes? Especially after a few tipples? Cheers and Happy Halloween!

The Addams Family

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Image credit: The Addams Family, 1991

They’re creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky. No, not the First Family; I’m talking about… The Addams Family! (Disc/Download) Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, this 1991 adaptation of the comic strip and hit 1960s television show is exactly the level of scary I want in my Halloween movies. That is to say—none at all.

While this film lacks a delightful jingle, it hits a lot of high notes with clever one-liners and stellar acting. Angelica Huston is radiant as Morticia Addams, the glamorous goth mom who always finds her light, and Raul Julia, who brings such joy to the role of Gomez that I want him to be my permanent drinking buddy. These two characters are supposed to be obsessed with death and the occult, but their chemistry makes this one of the happiest, healthiest marriages in the history of popular culture. And then there’s precocious little Christina Ricci as their daughter Wednesday, who enjoys electrocuting her brother and poisoning the neighborhood Girl Scouts. I feel absolutely no shame in admitting that I wanted to be Wednesday as a little girl. Hell, I still want to be her. There’s a ludicrous plot involving amnesia and stolen treasure, but obviously we’re all just here for the deliciously macabre set, black roses, and a disembodied hand named Thing.

Rounding out the Addams Family is Uncle Fester, played by an almost unrecognizable Christopher Lloyd. We’re supposed to believe he’s been lost in the Bermuda Triangle for decades despite the fact that he’s practically transparent from lack of a tan. Let’s give a toast to Fester’s #islandlyfe with this Black Sand tiki cocktail!

Black Sand

¾ oz Lime Juice

¾ oz Coconut Cream

Pinch of activated charcoal powder

1 ½ oz Pineapple Juice

2 oz Dark Rum

In the bottom of a shaker, dissolve charcoal powder in the lime juice and coconut cream. After well combined, add ice, pineapple juice, and rum. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass.

“Fleshlette” hand sculpture by http://paynescultpures.com

I can’t end this post without mentioning Cousin It, who like many of us in quarantine, is in desperate need of a haircut. If you need a break from reality right now, treat yourself to a little absurdity. The Addams Family is ready to welcome you with a lethal drink and an antique torture device. Cheers!

Far From Heaven

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Image credit: Far From Heaven, 2002.

In many ways, I owe the existence of Cinema Sips to this week’s film, Far From Heaven (Disc/Download). When I had the idea seven years ago to start writing about films and cocktails, it was based on the image of Julianne Moore in a perfect pastel 1950s dress, pouring a pitcher of daiquiris for her girlfriends in the middle of the day. That, right there, was the life I wanted for myself. Unfortunately, I (and most of my girlfriends) have day jobs. There are no lunchtime daiquiris, and most of us live in different states at this point. But what if we could all watch a movie, make a cocktail, and feel like we were together? And what if I could share the experience with the whole world? Just like that, Cinema Sips was born.

It’s no shock that I adore this movie, since I’ve raved on here before about my love of the ’50s melodrama. From Douglas Sirk films like Magnificent Obsession and All That Heaven Allows, to Sirk-adjacent picks like Peyton Place and A Summer Place, I simply cannot get enough of beautiful facades hiding the torrid scandals of a soap opera. Every detail of Todd Haynes’ homage to vintage melodramas is perfection, from the tailored dresses, to the stellar production design, to the script that touches on everything from racism to homosexual shame to domestic violence. You see, even though these characters exist in an idyllic world of brightly colored autumn leaves and silk party dresses, beneath that surface lies a lot of pain and sadness.

As I mentioned, this movie gets me very excited about daiquiris in the middle of the day. If you’re looking for that recipe, you can find it here. However, now I’d like to pay tribute to modern housewives, who, each September, start sucking back the Pumpkin Spice products like a seasonal heroin. Pumpkin Spice was not really “a thing” during the 1950s, but if it were, I’m pretty sure Cathy and her gal pals would be enjoying a pitcher of these Pumpkin Spice Margaritas.

Pumpkin Spice Margaritas

2 parts Reposado Tequila

1 part Cointreau

1 part Lime Juice

2 parts Pumpkin Spice Puree*

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail pitcher with ice. Stir until chilled, then pour into glasses filled with fresh ice.

*Pumpkin Spice Puree: Combine 1 cup brown sugar + 1 cup Water + 2 Tsp Ground Pumpkin Spice in a saucepan. Heat until lightly boiling and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, then stir in 3/4 cup Canned Pure Pumpkin Puree. Cool, and refrigerate.

In the role of Cathy Whitaker, Julianne Moore shows us that even though many of us may look back fondly on a lot of things from this era, in the end we’re only gazing at a pretty picture. The reality was anything but pretty. If I had my pick, I’d leave the intolerance back in the previous century, but keep the dresses and decor. Day-drinking with friends can also stay. Cheers!

Dead Poets Society

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Image credit: Dead Poets Society, 1989

If nothing else, the horror-show that is 2020 has proven once and for all that teachers are goddamn heroes. Often putting their lives and personal sanity at risk, they’ve had to work three times as hard this year to ensure that kids are not only educated, but comforted during these unprecedented, uncertain times. Even when faced with a laptop screen full of tiny faces, it’s up to them to make every child feel safe, and above all, seen. No movie has communicated the truth of this better than Dead Poet’s Society (Disc/Download).

A perfect pick for Fall viewing, Peter Weir’s film opens on a bucolic New England boarding school just as the leaves are starting to change. The boys who inhabit these drafty buildings want so badly to be men, and it isn’t until they meet their new English professor Mr. Keating (Robin Williams) that they start to learn what that truly means. You see, Mr. Keating doesn’t just teach them poetry. He teaches them to be brave, to inhabit the world with honor, and that feelings and emotions matter. To me, this shows what an important role a great teacher can play in one’s life. At the end of it all, you might not remember what a quadratic equation is, or who wrote the words, “O Captain! My Captain!” but you’re damn sure going to remember the person who encouraged you to be curious about the world, and fearless in the face of adversity.

Because this movie gives me all the cozy New England vibes, I’ll be drinking a nice, warming apple brandy cocktail, perfect for poetry readings in caves. While watching Dead Poet’s Society, I recommend drinking this Captain’s Mule.

Captain’s Mule

1 ½ oz Calvados Apple Brandy

½ oz Lime Juice

3 dashes Angostura Bitters

6 oz Ginger Beer

Dried Apple for garnish

Place first three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a copper mug filled with fresh ice. Top with ginger beer, and garnish with dried apple.

There have been a lot of great teachers in cinema, but out of all of them, John Keating is the one I most wish I’d had the pleasure of knowing. Someone to tell me that words are important, and to not be so afraid that my thoughts are worthless or embarrassing. If Cinema Sips is my barbaric YAWP!, then let it be heard. Cheers!

It Happened One Night

Image Credit: It Happened One Night, 1934.

I don’t know what this says about me, but I have a thing for grumpy heroes in popular culture. I guess when I really stop to think about it, I’m the grumpy hero of my own life: I don’t have time for nonsense, my baseline descriptors are sarcastic and pessimistic, but deep down inside I’m a romantic puddle of mush. Maybe that’s why I adore Clark Gable so much in this week’s film It Happened One Night (Disc/Download)—we are two cynics who found love, despite our better instincts.

Hailed as one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, It Happened One Night 100% lives up to the hype. It’s amazing to me how this 1930s screwball comedy about a scandalized socialite falling for a wisecracking journalist still manages to feel fresh and relevant nearly a century later. Featuring tropes as old as time (enemies-to-lovers + forced proximity), Frank Capra’s ode to romance on the road is smart, daring, and unbelievably funny. While the script is great, it’s the acting that really sells it for me. Claudette Colbert is both ballsy and vulnerable, so desperate to get to The Wrong Man that she jumps off a yacht, hops on a Greyhound, spends the night with a total stranger (The Right Man), and flashes her gams while hitchhiking. And yet, she still needs Clark Gable to tell her how bus schedules work, and the proper way to dunk a donut, and how to not stand out like a sore thumb among the plebeians. Meanwhile, he needs a woman who makes him laugh, calls him out on his oversized ego, and is ready and willing to take the leap into a life of adventure. These two may be on opposite sides of the curtain, but we know it’s only a matter of time before those walls of Jericho come tumbling down.

Claudette Colbert’s character Ellie Andrews is described as a spoiled brat, but I think she’s more of a pissed-off brat. She’s tired of other people calling the shots in her life, and she’s ready to take the reins. This cocktail I found a few months ago in the New York Times cooking section seems tailor-made for Ellie- The Bitter Heiress!

The Bitter Heiress

3 oz Lillet

1 oz Fresh-squeezed Orange Juice

½ oz Campari

Orange peel

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, and add the first three ingredients. Stir until chilled, then strain into a chilled martini glass. Take the orange peel, hold it over the glass with the skin facing down, then strike a match and hold it between the peel and the drink. Squeeze peel toward match to spray citrus oil onto the surface of the drink, and discard. Garnish with a fresh slice of peel.

If you need a fun romp for an at-home date night, or just a solo screening that’ll make you feel a little less pessimistic about the world, quit bawlin’ and give It Happened One Night a chance. Here’s to the merry go round!

The Karate Kid

Image credit: The Karate Kid, 1984

Before going down the Cobra Kai rabbit hole (if you don’t know what this is, GET A NETFLIX SUBSCRIPTION NOW!!!), I decided to revisit the film that inspired the world’s new favorite soap-opera-for-the-middle-aged. Plus, with Halloween right around the corner, it seemed like a good time to examine the genesis of my childhood nightmares—those motorcycle-riding blonde villains in their skeleton costumes and terrifying makeup. The Karate Kid (Disc/Download) is a nostalgia trip to the 1980s, but you know what? I’m pretty excited to go back.

First things first—Ralph Macchio was and still is a BABE. Pre-teen Liz was all about sweet Daniel and his luscious olive skin, and don’t even get me started on that dopey shower curtain costume. So creative! My husband loves to champion his theory that Daniel LaRusso is the real bully of The Karate Kid, but I wholeheartedly disagree. Daniel does not dress up like a creepy skeleton and beat a kid within an inch of his life. He does not sweep the leg. All he does is fall for the wrong single girl (sorry Johnny, you had your chance), and douse his tormentor with water. However, the fact that my husband and I have such differing opinions on this proves that the film has very layered, nuanced characters. This is not just a group of one-note villains and heroes. They all have complex backstories, none more so than that of Daniel’s sensei, Mr. Miyagi. As a child watching this movie, Miyagi’s tragic past didn’t even register to me. But as an adult, my heart breaks for the war hero whose wife and child perished in a Japanese Internment Camp. The fact that this role was played by comic Pat Morita with such dignity and honesty (for he, too, had spent time in the camps), makes it all the more powerful. This is not just a movie about martial arts; this is a movie about finding the hero within oneself, even when the world may have turned its back on you.

My drink this week is an ode to Mr. Miyagi’s low-key, retro style. I can just imagine him sipping a tiki beverage in his Japanese garden, watching Daniel wax-on/wax-off. While watching The Karate Kid, I recommend enjoying this Hai Karate cocktail.

Hai Karate

2 oz Aged Rum

1 oz Lime Juice

1 oz Orange Juice

1 oz Pineapple Juice

1 tsp Maple Syrup

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Dried citrus/Luxardo Cherry for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then pour (unstrained) into a glass. Garnish with citrus slices and Luxardo Cherry.

One of the things I love so much about the television show Cobra Kai is that it goes out of its way to pay tribute to the fan-favorite aspects of The Karate Kid. Cutting in scenes from the movie, they weave a story that feels contemporary and classic all at once. We feel the joy of an ‘80s muscle car blasting power ballads, the thrill of finding familiar faces on our screens once again, and above all, we feel the loss of Mr. Miyagi. Daniel tries to spread his teachings of balance and peace, and somehow it feels like the big battle of our modern times. Can the Miyagi-do principles of tolerance and inclusivity triumph once again, or will the bullies win this round? I guess we’ll find out in about forty-four more days. Cheers!