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Category Archives: Children’s

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

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Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Image credit: Bedknobs and Broomsticks, 1971.

No matter how many sexy pirate or sexy nurse costumes flood the market in October, to me Halloween will always be a holiday for kids. Sure, I may still put on a funky hat or a fake moustache and eat my weight in fun-sized Heath bars, but I know I’ll never recapture the anticipatory magic of slipping a coat over my Little Mermaid seashell bra and heading out into a chilly Pennsylvania evening, empty plastic pumpkin in hand. Therefore this week on Cinema Sips, I’m closing out a month of witch movies with a childhood favorite, Bedknobs and Broomsticks (DVD/Download).

Many people tend to compare this movie to Mary Poppins, and they wouldn’t be wrong. Both feature beloved British actresses, catchy songs, a bit of magic, dirty London streets, and an unfortunate live action/cartoon interlude. However, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is slightly grittier than Mary and her penguins. This film follows a trio of homeless orphaned children sent to live in the village of Pepperinge Eye during the WWII bombing of London. They wind up in the care of Angela Lansbury, a secret witch-in-training with a surly disposition and an endless supply of tweed skirts, who feeds them grain bowls and can’t ride a broom to save her life. But in the end, they all work together on magic spells to defeat the Nazi’s, and live happily ever after. Because Disney!

Lansbury’s Eglantine Price is a buttoned up lady, whose one indulgence (I like to imagine), is a small glass of sherry and a good book.  Actually, that sounds kind of perfect to me as well.  Let’s celebrate this unlikeliest of witches with a classic EGG-white cocktail, the Sherry Flip.

Sherry Flip

2 oz dry Sherry

1 oz simple syrup

1 egg white

Pinch of nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a shaker without ice and shake well to combine. Then add ice, and shake vigorously to chill. Strain into a small wine glass. Dust with nutmeg.

Although many witches in cinema use their powers for romantic love, I applaud Eglantine on using hers for the good of her country. You see, witches don’t have to be scary. They can be intriguing, intelligent, kind, and pragmatic. They can have a thirst for knowledge that takes them from the bookshops on Portobello Road to a magical undersea dance hall. It’s all in your perception. Cheers!


Hocus Pocus

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Hocus Pocus

Image credit: Hocus Pocus, 1993

I feel an unusual amount of pressure in writing about this week’s film Hocus Pocus (DVD/Download). What was once a charming (and admittedly scary) movie to 10-year old Liz Locke has since morphed into a cult classic that people my age are REALLY nostalgic for. Is it simply because Hocus Pocus was always “on” when we were kids? Is it the enduring appeal of a talking cat? Sarah Jessica Parker’s cleavage?   After a recent re-watch, I’m still not sure I’m a member of the H.P. cult, but it sure does bring back memories.

Hocus Pocus is an unusually dark movie in the Disney canon. Not only does it feature a trio of Salem witches who suck the life out of small children and bury the bones under their house, but there are also frightening graveyard chase scenes and an oddly critical view of virginity. Honestly, I didn’t even know what a virgin was when this movie came out, thinking it was probably a euphemism for ‘stupid’. What other excuse is there for lighting a black-flame candle made from the fat of a hanged-man (kid’s movie here folks!), knowing it might bring some evil witches back from the dead? Total virgin move. Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy are the ideal level of fun and creepy in their portrayal of the Sanderson Sisters, and in terms of cinema witches, it’s great to see the evil variety for a change, instead of the charming seductress. Not since Margaret Hamilton painted her skin green and summoned her monkeys have I been so terrified to see a woman fly through the air.

Because I consider this a somewhat adult movie, it deserves an adult beverage to go along with it. I didn’t get this recipe from a book of spells, but it does make me feel a little more youthful. Maybe that’s just the alcohol buzz. While watching Hocus Pocus, I recommend drinking a Glorious Morning Mule.

Glorious Morning Mule

3 oz Green Chartreuse

1 oz Lemon Juice

10 oz Ginger Beer

Optional: Salt Rim

Fill copper mule mug with ice, then top with green chartreuse, lemon juice, and ginger beer. Stir gently to combine. Optional- to ward off zombies, witches, and old boyfriends, rim the mug with salt.

Glorious Morning Mule

One thing I really love about Hocus Pocus is the book of spells with the blinking eye. Say what you want about witches, but they tend to be very well read. I may not approve of the rest of their shenanigans (like child genocide), but I do approve of reading. Cheers!

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

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Image Credit: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1970.

Happy Halloween to my Cinema Sips readers! I think we can all agree that the best part of this holiday is the candy.  I’ve never been a big fan of scary movies, so this year I plan on stuffing my face full of KitKats and watching the Holy Grail of candy movies, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (DVD/Download). (And of course I’ll be enjoying a chocolate cocktail, but we’ll get to that).

With the passing of legendary actor Gene Wilder, this movie has once again been thrust into the spotlight due to his timeless performance as imaginative candy mogul Willy Wonka. As the enigmatic Wonka, Wilder twirls and softshoe’s his way through a technicolor dreamland filled with rivers of chocolate, Oompa Loompas, and lickable wallpaper. The movie is a visual feast for both children and adults alike, and through the eyes of young Charlie Bucket, we can’t help but feel awed and delighted by literally every frame.

As an adult, I can’t watch this film and not wonder what kind of magical candy cocktails Willy Wonka would have created. Would there be some chocolate liqueur in that river? Perhaps a snozzberry champagne fizzy lifting drink? The possibilities are endless, and as Wonka himself says, “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker.”  So true.  In the end, I always come back to the chocolate. Plain, simple, delicious. While watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I recommend drinking a Candy Bar Hot Chocolate.

Candy Bar Hot Chocolate

1/2 oz butterscotch schnapps

1 oz Patron XO Coffee Liqueur

Caramel Hot Chocolate (I use World Market brand)

Sweetened Whipped Cream

Caramel syrup

Prepare hot chocolate according to package directions. Pour into glass mug, then add the coffee liqueur and schnapps, stirring gently. Top with whipped cream and caramel syrup.


Although I’d like to think of myself as an optimistic Charlie Bucket, in reality I’m really more of a Veruca Salt (hey- she’s misunderstood!).  And after a bag of Halloween candy, I fall squarely into Augustus Gloop territory.  Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of my favorite films, and not just because it promotes sugary treats and pure imagination.  Really, I’m just a sucker for happily ever after. Cheers!

Freaky Friday

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Freaky Friday

Image credit: Freaky Friday, 1976

Kids month concludes with yet another Disney gem later remade with Lindsay Lohan. Once again (though not surprisingly), I prefer the original. Freaky Friday (DVD/Download) started out a fantastic novel that I stumbled onto in the public library as a child, and happily the movie adaptation does not disappoint. Starring Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris as a mother and daughter who switch bodies for the day, this film is a wonderful 1970’s time capsule full of bad special effects, bell bottom pants, and synchronized water skiing.

It’s shocking that Jodie Foster made Freaky Friday the same year as Taxi Driver, because the roles couldn’t be more different. Field hockey playing tomboy Annabelle Andrews is a far cry from child prostitute Iris, and it just illustrates the talent she had at such a young age. The one thing I always related to was Annabelle’s preference for junk food. Banana splits for breakfast?  Sign me up! As an adult she switches to cold macaroni and cheese- another stellar choice. I never wanted to switch places with my working mother, but had she been a housewife like the elder Mrs. Andrews, I might have been tempted. Sure laundry and grocery shopping are drags, but it’s not like those have to be done every day. There would have been plenty of time left over for soap operas and raw cookie dough binges.

One thing about Mrs. Andrews that I can relate to is the pressure of throwing a dinner party. If I were cooking, I’m pretty sure limp parsley and burnt turkey would end up on my menu too. But dang that chocolate mousse looks good, even on the walls. Therefore this week, while watching Freaky Friday, I recommend making a Grown-Up Chocolate Mousse.

Grown-Up Chocolate Mousse

1/4 cup instant chocolate mousse mix (I used Dr. Oetker brand)

2/3 cup cold milk

2 Tablespoons Amaretto

2 Tablespoons Baileys irish crème liqueur

Whipped Cream and chocolate chips for garnish

Combine mousse mix, milk, Amaretto, and Baileys in a bowl.  Beat on high with electric mixer for 3-5 minutes, or until thickened.  Refrigerate for at least an hour, then top with whipped cream and chocolate chips.

grown up mousse

Although this dessert isn’t technically a cocktail, it’s got booze and lots of chocolate. Teenage me AND adult me thoroughly approves. Would I ever want to switch places with another person I know? No, probably not. However every morning when I look longingly at my napping dog and head out to the office, the thought does cross my mind. But then I think of Freaky Friday and remember- nobody wants to eat kibble. Not even on a smorgasbord. Cheers!

The Sandlot

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The Sandlot

Image credit: The Sandlot, 1993

The Sultan of Swat! The Titan of Terror! The King of Crash! The Colossus of Clout! THE GREAT BAMBINO! Like Smalls in this week’s film The Sandlot (DVD/Download), I grew up clueless about all Babe Ruth euphemisms. You mean he’s not just a candy bar?? , said my ten-year-old self.  I credit The Sandlot and A League of Their Own with teaching me everything a gal needs to know about faking her way through an interest in summertime baseball. This was of course a helpful skill if I was ever going to become the future Mrs. Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez.

With Stand By Me-esque narration and a realistic depiction of awkward blended families, The Sandlot is a great coming-of-age story set in an era when kids could just play ball for hours without worrying about being kidnapped or strangled on the way home. Their greatest danger was a drooling English Mastiff behind a rusted fence, and the wrath of an oddly quiet Denis Leary once he learned his Babe Ruth-autographed baseball had been lost. And everyone knows Leary’s a Red Sox fan. So… yeah. No real danger there.

After gaining valuable life lessons on teamwork, the dangers of chewing tobacco, and kissing a hot lifeguard, the kids manage to get into “the biggest pickle” and have to resort to creative problem-solving. So while watching The Sandlot, I recommend drinking a Dirty Pickle.

Dirty Pickle

4 oz vodka

1/2 tsp dry vermouth

2 tsp dill pickle juice

Small dill pickles for garnish

 In a shaker filled with ice, combine vodka, vermouth, and pickle juice.   Shake until chilled, then strain into a martini glass.  Garnish with a pickle spear.

dirty pickle

Who would have thought that 23 years later, I’d still be watching The Sandlot on a hot July day, hoping that nobody would make me go outside and play. Gotta say though, I’m glad to have graduated from a Fruitopia to a chilled cocktail. Cheers!

Flight of the Navigator

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Flight of the Navigator

Image credit: Flight of the Navigator, 1986.

As kids across America flock to see what passes for entertaining children’s movies these days, I can’t help but reminisce about some of my own summer favorites from childhood. All month long on Cinema Sips, I’ll be featuring kids movies that are near and dear to my heart, along with a cocktail pairing to make it just that much more fun. Because let’s admit, as much as we tell kids to cherish their youth, sometimes it’s pretty great to be an adult.

Kicking things off is that Fourth of July classic, Flight of the Navigator (DVD/Download).  Oh how my brother and I loved to shout “compliance!” at each other in the late 1980’s, in that weird pseudo Pee-wee Herman voice.  The story of a boy who gets abducted by aliens, then returned 8 years later having not aged a day, is the stuff of bad sci-fi, but somehow it works here.  Maybe it’s because of the Disney Soarin’ music, or the creepy puppets, or just the bad 80’s hair (ahem Sarah Jessica Parker).  But whatever it is, I loved it then and my feelings have not faded.  If anything, my appreciation for Twisted Sister has only deepened.

Inexplicably, the 1980’s technology in this film includes the R.A.L.F., or Robotic Assistant Labor Facilitator.  It’s basically a big cardboard box that delivers papers and food.  A prehistoric Amazon drone if you will.  This acronym, and the movie’s Florida setting inspired my cocktail this week, the R.A.L.F. (or, Rum And Lime Flip).


2 oz Dark Rum

1 oz Lime Juice

1/2 oz Pineapple Juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

1 whole raw egg (yolk included)

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake vigorously until chilled, and the egg has emulsified.  Strain into a coupe glass.


Sculptures by Chris Bathgate

No, your eyes do not deceive you- that is not a time-traveling Bruiser, come to visit us in 2016.  In fact it’s my look-a-like dog Peaches, who was very excited to see her doppelgänger on screen this week.  She thought the frisbee scene was aces, but she’s still not sure about the scary giant eyeball on the ship.  Really, neither am I.  Cheers, and Happy Fourth of July!