What do you get when you cross two burly jazz musicians in drag, a blonde ukulele-playing starlet, a hot water bottle full of whiskey, and a room full of tommy-gun toting gangsters? A heck of a good time, that’s what. This week’s film selection is the 1959 Billy Wilder classic Some Like it Hot. Set against the backdrop of the roaring 20’s, this film features Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as two Chicago jazz musicians down on their luck and on the run from the mob. They hear of a female band in need of new members, so these two bosom buddies trade in their overcoats for dresses and wigs, and hop a train to Florida. On board, they meet Marilyn Monroe’s character Sugar Kane, and the rest of Sweet Sue’s Society Syncopators. These ladies like to party, and pretty soon the drunken shenanigans are off and running.
Probably my favorite scene in the film is one that lends itself well to this week’s cocktail selection. During the train ride down to Florida, Sugar Kane gets the party started in Jack Lemmon (aka Daphne)’s bunk. He provides the whiskey, she chips some ice off an ENORMOUS block (did all trains carry polar ice down to Florida back then?), and pretty soon the rest of the Syncopators have gathered in his bunk with a bottle of Vermouth and a pretty ingenious hot water bottle/cocktail shaker-thing. Manhattans are served in Dixie cups, and someone manages to produce some Saltine crackers (I don’t think I want to know from where). It becomes kind of a naughty sorority party, with Jack Lemmon in the center as the ugliest sorority sister I have ever seen. Zowie!
While I’m watching this scene, of course all I want is a Manhattan so I can join in the party too. While I’ve typically posted cutesy variations on classic cocktails thus far, this week I’m going with something more traditional since this is such a classic comedic film. This week’s cocktail: The Classic Manhattan.
2 oz Bourbon Whiskey
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 maraschino cherry
Combine the rye, vermouth, and bitters in a mixing glass, fill with ice, and stir until cold. Strain into a chilled glass, garnish with the cherry or orange twist.
If you’re like me, one of these is all you need for sipping during the movie. But of course it’s more fun to invite some friends over, make a big batch, and laugh at Tony Curtis’ faux-Cary Grant accent midway through the film together. This is truly a film that encourages celebrating music, friendship, cocktails and womanhood. And if you’re not a woman, well, nobody’s perfect. Cheers!