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Giant

Giant

Image credit: Giant, 1956

They say everything is bigger in Texas. Well, when it comes to cinema, perhaps they’re right. A prime example would be this week’s film Giant (DVD/Download). True Texans, and yes even Yankee transplants like me, can appreciate this epic film about land, greed, pride, and passion. With a run time of 3 hours and 20 minutes, there’s nothing small about Giant. With Thanksgiving looming, it’s the perfect time to settle in with a classic film about gluttony and family dysfunction.

Starring Rock Hudson as a west Texas rancher and Elizabeth Taylor as his Yankee bride, the timeline of Giant spans decades as it tells the story of the Reata ranch and its unhappy inhabitants. As a progressive northerner, Taylor is a fish out of water in the wild frontier of rural Texas. She loves her husband, and grows to love the barren open environment of her new home, but gets easily frustrated by the prejudice and intolerance she frequently witnesses. Her ally (a very HOT James Dean) saunters across the screen all brooding and beautiful, and together these two outcasts form an unlikely friendship. Their scenes together are simply magic, and one can truly sense the mutual respect that these two people shared in real life as well. Of course, Elizabeth Taylor’s chemistry with Rock Hudson is pretty incredible too, and the scene of Hudson gazing longingly at his estranged wife from across a crowded wedding, with love and adoration written all over his face, is one of the most romantic moments I’ve witnessed on the big screen. Seriously, all the feels.

With a movie about Texas cattle, dusty plains, and bit hats, one has to indulge in a little bourbon. OK, maybe a lot of bourbon. After all, you’ve got over 3 hours to sip- make it a double. While watching Giant, I recommend drinking a Reata Sweet Tea (bonus points for using Texas ingredients!).

Reata Sweet Tea

1 ½ oz Treaty Oak Red Handed Bourbon

1 oz Firefly Sweet Tea Bourbon

6 oz Texas Honey Cider

½ oz Lemon Juice

2 dashes Orange Bitters

Pour all ingredients over ice in a highball glass, stirring gently to combine.

Reata Sweet Tea

I’ve lived in Texas for more than a decade, but in many ways I can still identify with Elizabeth Taylor’s outsider character. I see a lot of injustices in my state, and tend to shake my fists pretty hard at our government, but I also have a deep appreciation for the land and the people I’ve met here. I’m proud to say I’m a Texan, despite not being a native one. You see, Texas is a state of mind, and yes- it is giant. Cheers y’all!

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Lost in Translation

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'Lost in Translation' Movie Stills

This week’s selection was a bit of a challenge. In my opinion, a blog on cocktail and movie pairings wouldn’t be complete without Sofia Coppola’s 2003 masterpiece Lost in Translation. Set in Tokyo, this unexpected love story features Bill Murray in one of his finest roles, playing an American movie star sent to Japan to endorse a whiskey. While there, he meets Scarlett Johansson’s character Charlotte, a fellow American and malcontent. They share a drink at a swanky hotel bar, and spend the rest of the movie exploring Tokyo and maybe possibly falling in love.

The reason I say that this selection was challenging is because I personally am not a frequent whiskey drinker. I skew more toward gin and vodka concoctions, which for this movie seems all wrong. Bill Murray does a fantastic job of selling us on Suntory whiskey, and by the end of the film I want to drink a glass on the rocks and do goofy impersonations of the Rat Pack, just like him. So here’s what I suggest. If you like whiskey, buy this movie and a bottle of Suntory’s Hibiki blended single-malt, drink a glass or two and imagine you’re as cool as Bill Murray.

However, for the non-whiskey drinkers of the world, I’ve come up with a cocktail that I personally enjoy and that also stays true to the spirit of the film- The Whiskey Amour.

Whiskey Amour

2oz bourbon

1oz fresh grapefruit juice

1oz honey syrup (boil one part water and one part honey)

Grapefruit twist for garnish

Combine all the liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into glass, garnish with grapefruit twist.

Whiskey-Amour

This drink is basically a Brown Derby, but I like to sweeten it a bit by adding more honey syrup than is typically called for. In relation to the film, it works on several levels. I’m using an American whiskey as a nod to the two American protagonists. The pink hue of the grapefruit juice references the opening scene of the film, and the honey references the music over the final scene of the film. This cocktail is to be enjoyed while you’re marveling at the amazing shots of Tokyo, and yearning for Charlotte to leave her hipster husband and run into Mr. Bob Harris’ arms. Drink enough and you may be tempted to sing along during the karaoke scene. Drink too much and you’ll be singing along with Sausalito.

What this week has taught me is that sometimes life surprises you. Whether it’s a May-December romance in Tokyo or a bourbon cocktail in your living room, the best experiences are often the ones you never saw coming. Cheers!