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Author Archives: LizLocke

Black Christmas

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Image credit: Black Christmas, 1974

If nothing else, 2022 is the year I overcame my aversion to scary movies. Although I still wouldn’t call myself a “fan”, I’ve nevertheless grown to appreciate vintage horror for its humor, style, and great practical effects. So rather than watch the newer iterations of this week’s Black Christmas (Disc/Download), I’m going back to the original slasher flick of 1974.

If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “The call is coming from inside the house,” well then, you can thank Black Christmas for putting it into the lexicon. This Canadian film starring Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder is like a vintage Scream, with gaudy lights, shag carpeting, and a lot of booze. Just before Christmas break, a serial killer targets a sorority house, making obscene phone calls, watching and waiting to make his move. There are several long, tense sequences of the killer stalking his prey, followed by murder scenarios that are thematically pretty gruesome, if not visually. Overall, I enjoyed this movie immensely because it’s just so weird and funny in moments where one would expect the opposite. I’m not going to have nightmares of a dead sorority girl covered in plastic, holding a creepy baby doll; I’m going to have nightmares about her patterned curtains.

One of the best things about Black Christmas is house mother Mrs. MacHenry, or “Mrs. Mac” to her friends. She’s got all kinds of exciting hiding places for her liquor, including hollowed out books and a toilet tank! Let’s give a proper toast to the woman who’s always “hanging around”, or better yet, make it a eulogy. While watching Black Christmas, I recommend drinking this Macintosh apple riff on a Dark & Stormy- a Mac Attack.

Mac Attack

1 1/2 oz Largo Bay Apple Spiced Rum

1 oz Apple Cider

1/4 oz Lemon Juice

1 dash of Angostura Bitters

Ginger Beer

Dried lemon slice

Combine rum, apple cider, lemon juice, and bitters in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a glass filled with fresh ice. Top with ginger beer, and a dried lemon slice.

I applaud a film that keeps me guessing, and Black Christmas managed to surprise me right through to the end. Sure, there were plenty of moments where I yelled at the dumb girl on the screen, but the truth is, none of us can predict how we’d react in scary situations. I like to think I wouldn’t move closer to the closet where I’d just heard a strange noise; that I would instead run away like a normal human with a shred of self-preservation instincts, but who knows? All I’ll say is, if I go missing, check the attic. Cheers!

Special Post: Drinking in Disney World

Loyal followers of Cinema Sips may have noticed it’s been a while since my last movie/cocktail pairing. I wish I could say I had a good reason for this, but the sad truth is… I’m burned out. Between my full-time job, pre-production on my upcoming novel (did you know my book is being published by Random House Canada in June 2023??? Well, now you do!), construction on my house, and holiday stress, something had to give, and that something was the blog. I haven’t had time to watch movies or make interesting cocktails; lately, it’s all I can do to collapse on the couch with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a Frasier rerun. If you’re thinking to yourself, “This woman needs a vacation!” you are correct. And last week, I got to take the ultimate vacation for a person who loves planning, retro futurism, and themed restaurants…Disney World!!!!

While my days consisted of a rides, a lot of walking, and a fair amount of junk food, I also managed to sample a smorgasbord of cocktails. Kudos to Disney for raising the bar on creative mixology, and if you’re looking for the recipes to some of their wildly inventive cocktails and mocktails, you can find many of them in The Unofficial Disney Parks Drink Recipe Book by Ashley Craft:

Here are the top five from my trip, in no particular order.

(*NOTE* You will not find anything from Hollywood Studios on this list because they are officially dead to me after tearing down The Great Movie Ride. I’ve drawn my line in the sand, and that line was a yellow brick road.)

1. The Northwoods, Territory Lounge, Wilderness Lodge

I decided to stop by the lodge for a peek at the Christmas decorations (which were unfortunately not up yet at the time of my visit), but lucked out in finding a new favorite bar, the Territory Lounge. This bourbon cocktail called “The Northwoods” had flavors of maple syrup and rosemary, and was quite tasty paired with a charcuterie plate and bowls of fancy popcorn. Who needs noisy restaurants with kids bouncing off the walls when you can relax into comfy armchairs and make a meal of small plates and booze? Repeat after me, fellow Childless Millennials- LOUNGES.

2. The Big Tang, Space 220 at EPCOT

I don’t even want to go into the full story of how I managed to snag a reservation at one of Disney’s most sought-after restaurants, on one of the busiest holiday weeks of the year. Let’s just say, as with all things Disney-related, it was expensive and time-consuming. Was it worth it? For a Tang-infused Margarita with a piece of astronaut ice cream on top? Absolutely!!! In all fairness, my opinion may have been skewed because I arrived shaky and disoriented after nearly losing my breakfast on the Guardians of the Galaxy ride, to the tune of “Disco Inferno”. Any alcoholic beverage would have been welcome by that point. This one was perfectly themed, if not perfectly balanced, but not to worry- my husband’s mocktail came with a pipette of Butterfly Pea Tea that I used to transfer some of his extremely sour lemonade into my drink, to balance the sweetness. I felt like Jim Lovell, working the problem at 220 miles above Earth.

3. Annapurna Zing, The Nomad Lounge, Animal Kingdom

This was my first trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but it definitely won’t be the last! I had a blast on Avatar Flight of Passage (terrible movie, fantastic ride), and saw a real, live flock of pink flamingos. Worth the price of admission, right there. But then I stepped into the Nomad Lounge and found nirvana in the form of delicious small plates, overstuffed armchairs, quiet ambiance, and a huge cocktail list. It was a tough choice, but I went with the Annapurna Zing, a tasty gin/passionfruit/ginger beer concoction that came with a glowing lotus flower. I’ll admit, I was mainly in this for the flower. But the drink was excellent, the conversation even better, and I now have a fun souvenir for my home bar!

4. Cosmopolitan, Steakhouse 71 at The Contemporary Hotel

The Contemporary is one of my favorite hotels on property, and their new steakhouse is retro perfection! This Cosmopolitan was off-menu, but the bartender did a phenomenal job of getting it just right. A cheeseburger and a cocktail in the middle of the day, while Mary Blair’s ghost smiles down on us? Don’t wake me, I’m dreaming.

5. Blood Orange Margarita, San Angel Inn at the Mexico Pavilion, EPCOT

Although tempted by the Neil Patrick Harris-designed margarita prominently displayed on the menu, I opted instead for a simple Blood Orange marg (sorry, Neil). It was tough to find anything without agave in it (why, Disney, do you insist on ruining your margaritas by making them too sweet???), but this one had a nice spicy rim to distract me from the fact that it wasn’t 100% up to my Austin standards. For romantic dining ambiance at Disney, you really can’t beat the San Angel Inn, and if you haven’t ridden the Three Caballeros boat tour slightly tipsy at least once, have you even lived?

I hope to be back in the coming weeks, rested and armed with some holiday flicks and cocktails, but in the meantime, I’ll quote the mouse and say, “See ya real soon!”

Confess, Fletch

Image credit: Confess, Fletch, 2022

If you want to know the key to my heart, it’s quite simple—puns. Specifically, puns delivered by a very handsome man in a very beautiful location. Confess, Fletch (Download) ticks all those boxes by hiring Jon Hamm to play my beloved wisecracking I.M. Fletcher, and sending him to the Eternal City, Rome. Add a plethora of cocktails and a fantastic jazzy soundtrack, and you’ve got the perfect Cinema Sips watch.

I covered the original Chevy Chase film a few months back, so imagine my delight to discover the franchise was getting rebooted with my favorite Mad Men star in the lead role. Hamm has phenomenal comedic timing, and his facial expressions alone had me snorting my drink. As with the other Fletch movies, the plot is beside the point. I could tell you all about how he’s trying to track down some stolen paintings while being framed for murder, but outlandish plots are not why I watch these movies. I watch them for the clever scripts, the wordplay, and the disguises. In fact, Confess, Fletch features one of the best aliases in the history of the franchise, and yes, I’m talking about “Mr. Locke”. Maybe I’m partial, but… it’s a great name.

As for the drinks, this movie has a plethora of cocktail inspiration. Aperol Spritzes and Negronis are solid options for celebrating the Dolce Vita portion of the film, but I prefer to keep it simple. Whether you’re fending off the advances of an Italian countess or catching up with your old pal from Sterling Cooper, only a Vodka Gimlet will do.

Vodka Gimlet

2 oz Vodka

¾ oz Lime Juice

½ oz Simple Syrup

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

If you’re looking for a fun, silly night at home, allow me to officially endorse Confess, Fletch. And with the addition of a tasty gimlet? Five stars. Definitely, five stars. Cheers!

Barton Fink

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Image credit: Barton Fink, 1991

Here we are again, with another “writer in a hotel” movie. I promise, Jack Nicholson does not pop out with an ax this time, though the bathrooms are decided less glamorous at the Hotel Earle. Barton Fink (Disc/Download) was a new-to-me Coen Brothers movie prior to this week, but it’s quickly risen up the ranks to Hail, Caesar! levels of adoration. A movie about a neurotic writer in the Golden Age of Hollywood? Definitely my catnip.

John Turturro plays our titular character Barton Fink, a rising New York playwright who gets chewed up and spit out by the Hollywood studio system. He heeds the siren call of Los Angeles, accepting the assignment of writing a wrestling movie that’s completely out of his wheelhouse, but something he’s powerless to decline. Once in town, he moves into a creepy rundown hotel next to a fascist serial killer and soon begins an affair with the assistant to his liquored-up literary hero. I’ll just say right now, John Mahoney as the Falkner-esque W.P. Mayhew is one of my favorite things about this film, and I wish he’d had more screen time. But I digress. One of my other favorite elements is the production design, which looks straight out of classics like Casablanca or Heaven Can Wait. Barton’s apartment might be a nightmare, but the rest of Tinseltown never looked better.

Barton has a lot of meetings over drinks (as any good writer would), so this seems like a great movie to watch with a cocktail. Let’s honor the wordsmiths of the world, toiling away on projects they may or may not ever finish, with this tasty concoction, the Last Word.

Last Word

1 oz Gin

1 oz Maraschino Liqueur

1 oz Green Chartreuse

1 oz Lime Juice

Luxardo Maraschino cherry

Combine gin, liqueurs, and lime juice in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a cherry.

I already know Barton Fink will be a movie I’ll want to watch again and again, in an effort to catch all the tiny details and nods to Hollywood’s golden era. Like that painting on Barton’s sweating wall, I can’t help but think there’s even more to this picture than meets the eye. Cheers!

The Shining

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Image credit: The Shining, 1980

I always thought the scariest place a person could be is in The Overlook Hotel with a murderous Jack Nicholson and a whole bunch of angry ghosts. Not to mention, those hallways of hypnotic carpet patterns! But that was until I made the decision to renovate my home. A decision which has forced me to become trapped, in increasingly smaller spaces, as the days and weeks bleed into one another. Suddenly, this quote from The Shining (Disc/Download) makes so much sense: “A kind of claustrophobic reaction which can occur when people are shut in together over long periods of time.” Let’s just say, I’m looking increasingly vacant-eyed over my keyboard. The dog is calling out to Scatman Crothers.

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, The Shining is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, inspired by his own stay at a Colorado resort (the Estes Park Hotel, which I can personally say is quite lovely… in the summer). Jack Torrance (Nicholson) moves his wife and son to a remote hotel for the winter, accepting the job of caretaker. As a writer, he thinks an empty resort will be the perfect spot to work on his novel. However, the ghosts of the hotel have other plans for the Torrance family. Slowly, Jack begins to go mad, while his telekinetic son senses the presence of the hotel’s previous dead occupants. Little Danny has a touch of “the shining”, just as the hotel itself “shines”. There are a lot of hallucination scenes in this, several times involving a bathroom. I too have been hallucinating a bathroom during long stretches of isolation, so this part of the film makes sense to me. When Jack and I dream, we dream of a beautiful, spacious retreat fit for a luxury hotel. My nightmare is that I’m as old as the decaying woman in Room 237 by the time my soaking tub gets installed, but that’s probably just the claustrophobia talking. Surely, my contractor will get his act together by then.

Another dream sequence involves one of my favorite movie bars, host to many glamorous parties throughout The Overlook’s storied history. Lloyd the bartender may have served up a mean Bourbon and Advocaat, but I prefer to take my cocktail cue from Danny. While watching The Shining, I recommend drinking this variation on the Negroni, a Redrum cocktail.

Redrum

1 oz Dark Spiced Rum

1 oz Campari

1 oz Sweet Vermouth

Blood orange slice

Combine rum, Campari, and vermouth in a mixing tin with ice. Stir until chilled, then strain into a glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with a slice of blood orange.

If you’re not typically a Negroni drinker, this may change your mind. Rum gives the cocktail a sweeter, spicier edge, and I actually prefer this to its gin-based cousin. It’s the perfect drink to toast five miserable months of home renovation, and the irreparable harm it has caused me. Cheers!

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

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Image credit: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962

When I start to feel fatigued by feel-good sibling stories, I turn to movies that show us the darker side of familial bonds. After all, sisters don’t always perform cute song-and-dance numbers like Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen in White Christmas.  Sometimes, sisters are merely two women who share some DNA and nothing else. And then there’s a darker sub-category, exclusively reserved for the Hudson sisters in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (Disc/Download).

This film had been on my watch list for a long time, and I finally took the plunge last summer after watching Ryan Murphy’s Feud miniseries. Surely, I thought, the movie isn’t nearly as bonkers as the making of the movie. Oh, how wrong I was. With over-the-top performances from Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, this tale of an aging child actress imprisoning (and torturing) her paraplegic sister in a Hollywood mansion is equal parts scary and campy. With a perfect blend of horror and suspense, the audience is taken on Baby Jane’s journey into madness, as resentment turns to homicidal rage. Davis’s clown makeup is truly terrifying, and she’s absolutely brilliant in the role of a washed-up vaudeville star. Crawford provides the melodrama, as intense as those trademark eyebrows. I’m sure Blanche was probably wishing she’d invested in an elevator before her little sister went crazy, however after a recent viewing of Olivia De Havilland in Lady in a Cage, I’m rethinking that idea. Baby Jane looks like the type to cut the power.

As many people are aware, Joan Crawford was not just an actress, but also a cola executive! Through her marriage to Pepsi-Cola’s president and CEO, she held a seat on the board of directors and often shilled the beverage in print ads and appearances. This week, I’m making a drink in honor of “Miss Pepsi” herself. While watching What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, I recommend drinking this Paralyzer cocktail.

Paralyzer

4 oz Pepsi

1 oz Coffee Liqueur

1 oz Vanilla Vodka

2 oz Milk

1 Maraschino cherry

Fill a glass with ice, and pour in the Pepsi. In a shaker, combine coffee liqueur, vodka, and milk. Gently pour over the Pepsi slowly. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

This drink definitely seems like something Jane would’ve enjoyed while posing next to her lookalike doll, or perhaps carried on a silver tray for her big sis. I don’t know how well it pairs with “dead rat”, but if you’re #teamCoke like me, you’ll still get a good scream. Cheers!

Beetlejuice

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Image credit: Beetlejuice, 1988

This week, I’m proud to say I conquered a major fear. In re-watching Beetlejuice (Disc/Download), I confronted one of my life’s main recurring nightmares, in which I’m walking through a Caligari-esque hallway of doors, not sure what’s on the other side. Is it a sandworm? Is it a room full of ugly post-modern Michael Graves furniture? Is it Michael Keaton in racoon clown makeup? I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve woken up screaming in the last thirty years.

Speaking of Michael Keaton, I don’t even want to admit how old I was before I realized that the same actor played Mr. Mom, Batman, AND aggressive bio-exorcist Beetlejuice. The man is a chameleon. Revisiting this movie as an adult, it’s amazing to see the high-caliber cast director Tim Burton pulled together. Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis play ghosts trying to force a brash New York family (Jeffrey Jones and Catherine O’Hara giving MAJOR Moira Rose vibes) out of their charming Connecticut home. Winona Ryder plays the goth daughter of the interlopers, with stellar lines such as “My whole life is a dark room.” Same, girl. Eventually getting more and more desperate, the ghosts call on Beetlejuice to help them drive the city slickers away for good, which causes more problems than they’d bargained on. The special effects and makeup are pretty impressive, and a big part of what makes this movie so fun for kids (unless you were a scaredy-cat like me). But as an adult, I’m still terrified of the afterlife’s waiting room. It’s more of an existential fear than a jump scare, but still just as effective.

My favorite scenes include some delightful Harry Belafonte calypso tracks, so we may as well “Jump in the Line” with this Caribbean-inspired cocktail. With a green tint that matches Beetlejuice’s hair, this will definitely put you in the mood for Halloween hijinks. While watching Beetlejuice, I recommend drinking this Day-O the Dead cocktail.

Day-O the Dead

1 ½ oz Rhum Agricole (or silver rum)

1 oz Midori

1 oz Lime Juice

1 ½ oz Pineapple Juice

¼ oz Coconut Cream

Gummi worms for garnish

Combine Rhum, Midori, lime and pineapple juices, and coconut cream in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a gummi worm.

Although the live action Beetlejuice scared the bejeezus out of me as a small child, I had a standing date with the animated series for many years. I guess cartoon poltergeists are just less threatening. And Lydia, oh Lydia—you have my dark heart forever. Cheers!

Lover Come Back

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Image Credit: Lover Come Back, 1961

When life is busy and stressful, I find myself yearning to seize the Day. Doris Day that is. Because no problem is too great that it can’t be solved by making a date with my favorite Classic Hollywood gal pal and her coordinating pastel outfits. In Doris’s world, I don’t have to think about my endless home renovations or work demands—I can just relax and enjoy the familiar tropes of mistaken identities and enemies-to-lovers. She’s basically a classic Shakespearean comedy wrapped up in a pillbox hat.

If you’ve seen Pillow Talk, then you’ve essentially seen this week’s film Lover Come Back (Disc/Download). Doris and Rock follow largely the same formula where she’s a competent career woman (this time it’s advertising instead of interior design), and he’s a playboy rival determined to take her down while simultaneously taking her to bed. Even Tony Randall pops up again as Rock’s wealthy best friend/boss, who inadvertently sets the madcap plot in motion by putting fake commercials for a fake account on the air. Suddenly, everybody’s wild to see the mysterious new product model Rebel Davis is selling, known only as “VIP”. Rock has to find a scientist to invent it, Doris mistakes Rock for the scientist, and by the end he’s got her trying to convince him to give her his formula, and his virginity. We’re missing the dreamy Rex Stetson accent in this, but we do get Rock with a beard, so I’ll take that tradeoff.

Lover Come Back is a great movie to watch with your favorite cocktail because VIP turns out to be an alcoholic wafer cookie that’s equal to a triple martini and comes in a rainbow of colors. Apparently it tastes like an after-dinner mint, and you know what that means—time to break out the Crème de Menthe! For everyone who has ever been stuck with this green bottle in their bar after making one lousy Grasshopper, here’s another drink to make you feel like it wasn’t a totally wasted purchase. While watching Lover Come Back, I recommend drinking this VIP Martini.

VIP Martini

1 oz Chocolate Vodka

2 oz RumChata

½ oz Green Crème de Menthe Liqueur

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass.

If you want to crank up the fun, take a drink every time Doris shows up in a new hat, or every time a VIP commercial plays. By the end, I kind of want to try it in every color. Guess that makes me the target audience—a ten-cent drunk. Cheers!

Sex and the City (the movie)

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Image credit: Sex and the City, 2008

Look, I know, we’re all extremely disappointed/fatigued by the Sex and the City franchise at this point. And Just Like That… ruined it beyond repair, shining a spotlight on all the problems of the original series, while failing to distract us with witty jokes and fabulous clothes (they weren’t that witty, or that fabulous this time around). There was also a very, very bad movie sequel Sex and the City 2, which we will not talk about. But when it comes to the first Sex and the City movie (Disc/Download), I’m not ashamed to admit- I actually like it!

Here’s the absolute truth: if you enjoyed the television show, you’ll enjoy this movie. And back in my early-twenties, I adored the show. Back then, it felt like my only real responsibility was being home in time to watch it each week. But as Carrie astutely points out in this film, your twenties are for having fun, thirties are for learning the lessons, and forties are for paying for the drinks. Now that I’m pushing forty, I’m working hard to pay for the drinks and simply don’t have time to care about trivial things such as how large Carrie’s closet is. I’m building my own large closet now, thank you very much. And it’s super stressful!!!! So while I may not have the energy for a weekly date with Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha, I don’t mind them swooping in on their cloud of privilege to distract me for a couple hours in the form of a movie.

I recently came across a cocktail in one of my favorite recipe books Experimental Cocktail Club that’s a surprising and delicious take on Carrie’s signature Cosmopolitan. This one keeps the pretty pink color, but has a much more interesting flavor profile. While watching Sex and the City, I recommend drinking this Big (Cosmo) is Dead.

Big (Cosmo) is Dead

1/2 oz Velvet Falernum

1 oz Aperol

1 oz Lime Juice

1 oz Vodka

2 dashes orange bitters

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

*Adapted from Big Cosmo is Dead recipe in Experimental Cocktail Club by Mitchell Beazley.

I may have had my quibbles with these characters over the years (STEVE- YOU ARE FAR TOO GOOD FOR MIRANDA!!!), but they’ll always have a fond place in my heart. We grew up together, found love together, drank cocktails together. Sometimes, it’s nice to pay a visit to your old friends, even after you’ve gone your separate ways. Because when something is really, really funny, you’ll always find time to laugh. Cheers!

Bringing Up Baby

Image credit: Bringing Up Baby, 1938

So a leopard, a dog, and a paleontologist walk into a bar… Not really, but this week’s film Bringing Up Baby (Disc/Download) definitely feels like one long, preposterous joke you tell after a few strong drinks.  From Cary Grant in a frilly bathrobe, to Katharine Hepburn hanging off the edge of a Brontosaurus skeleton, the hits just keep on coming.

Directed by Howard Hawks, this fast-talking screwball comedy shows what happens when a buttoned-up paleontologist (Grant) meets his match in a flighty, chaotic socialite (Hepburn). She steals his golf ball and his car, he laments the cruel twist of fate that sent this #hotmessexpress careening into his ordered life, and before you know it, they’re ripping each other’s clothes off. Things get really crazy when a “tame” leopard gets delivered to Hepburn’s mansion, the family dog buries a priceless dinosaur bone, and the circus comes to town. I love any movie with a fast-paced plot and rapid dialogue, and it doesn’t get faster (or zanier) than this. Having been a longtime fan of the Grant/Hepburn pairing in The Philadelphia Story, it’s fun to see them in the meet-cute stage of a relationship, as opposed to bickering divorcees. Almost as though Bringing Up Baby is the prequel to their later film, back when this onscreen couple was just figuring out how to be “yar”.

Fans of The Thin Man will probably recognize doggie star “Skippy”, who achieved even greater fame as Nick and Nora Charles’s pooch Asta. Here he plays George, a pampered scoundrel who likes to steal bones and hide them all over his owner’s sprawling estate. One such bone is the missing piece to Cary Grant’s prized Brontosaurus skeleton, so while you’re watching Bringing Up Baby, I recommend joining the fun with this Skeleton Key cocktail.

Skeleton Key

1 ½ oz Bourbon

¾ oz Elderflower Liqueur

½ oz Lemon Juice

4 oz Ginger Beer

8 dashes Angostura Bitters

Combine bourbon, elderflower liqueur, and lemon juice with ice in a Collins glass. Stir to combine and chill, then top with more ice, and ginger beer. Stir, and top with eight dashes of Angostura Bitters.

Fizzy and sweet, the drink also has a bit of a bite to it, mirroring the sharp tongues of our hero and heroine. For witty banter, hilarious physical comedy, and chemistry that’s off the charts, give these screwballs a watch. Cheers!