Gangsters and high-class hookers. 1950’s movie stars. Glamorous fashions. Russell Crowe when he was young and thin. That’s right, I’m talking about L.A .Confidential (DVD/Download). This 1997 film based on a James Ellroy novel and directed by Curtis Hanson is one of my all-time favorites, and an absolutely perfect movie to pair with a cocktail. I remember when this film came out, and after seeing it for the first time, I knew I had just experienced movie greatness, but I was still thoroughly confused. L.A. Confidential deserves and needs your undivided attention, so put down the iphones and laptops, and make your cocktail before you press play because the plot has more twists and turns than a street in the Hollywood Hills.
L.A. Confidential centers on three cops in the LAPD who find their cases intersecting in one riveting vice/homicide mash-up. Guy Pearce plays bookish detective Edmund Exley, Russell Crowe plays the heavy-handed goon/good guy Bud White, and Kevin Spacey is the fun-loving Jack Vincennes who stumbles onto a vice case that was more than he bargained for. I love the way the script weaves back and forth between their cases, until eventually they are knotted together. I often rave about this film, saying that it is sheer perfection- the acting, the screenplay, the music, the costumes, the sets, everything. Even Kim Basinger turns in a great performance as Lynn Bracken, the hooker dolled up to look like Veronica Lake. I love movies that reference classic cinema, and it’s a great deal of fun to play along as we see hookers cut to look like Lake, Ginger Rogers, and Rita Hayworth. Of course one of the best scenes comes at the hands of Vincennes and Exley interrogating Lana Turner and Johnny Stompanato. I laugh every time because it’s one of the rare comedic moments in this pulpy noir film (outside of any scene with Danny DeVito of course).
For my cocktail this week, I’m serving up a drink that would have been fashionable around the time this movie takes place. It was popularized by Raymond Chandler, another noir writer, though I’m making it a little differently than he would have. In The Long Goodbye, he called for simply “half gin and half Rose’s lime juice,” but I like to add a little simple syrup to my gimlet. After all, Bud White is a sweetie at heart!
2 oz gin
½ oz Lime Juice
½ oz simple syrup
Lime wedge for garnish
Mix gin, lime juice, and simple syrup together in a cocktail shaker over ice. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with lime.
Enjoy this drink and pretend you’re Lynn Bracken entertaining either Russell Crowe or Guy Pearce in her glamorous Art Deco bungalow, or perhaps you’d rather be sipping it at the Brown Derby. This film makes me so nostalgic for the glamour of Tinseltown, because even when they’re crawling around looking for dead bodies or roughing up a gangster at an abandoned motel, these cops still call each other by their full names and wear hats. It was civilized back then! So enjoy L.A.Confidential as you sip your gimlet, and try not to get so drunk that you end up whispering Rollo Tomasi in your husband’s ear for the millionth time while he tries not to become annoyed with you (not that I’m speaking from experience, *wink*). Cheers!