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Tag Archives: Bourbon

Summertime

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Summertime

Image credit: Summertime, 1955

It’s official- the summer doldrums are here. Every July, I become a thoroughly unpleasant person to be around as I slog through a Groundhog Day existence of air conditioning and double showers. But this year, I made the wise choice to take a short jaunt to Venice with Katharine Hepburn in the lush 1950s drama Summertime (Disc/Download). And cookie, I’m glad I did.

When this film begins, Hepburn’s character Jane is excited about her trip to Venice. She’s saved up for it, made all the arrangements, and idealized the Italian city in her mind. She knows it’s a place for romance, but she doesn’t even dare hope for that. She’s been single a long time, and well…it’s enough just to see the beautiful canals. That’s what she tells herself, anyway. But then she actually arrives and discovers that Venice is THE WORST place to go if you’re single. I should know—I went there alone in 2002 and it was the loneliest trip of my life. Thankfully, she meets a charming antiques dealer, who may or may not be trustworthy, but still manages to pull her out of her shell and turn this trip from depressing to romantic. It’s here that Hepburn makes you feel what it is to fall for someone. To hope, but not let yourself hope too much, then to take that first tentative step before rushing in with open arms and saying “I love you” on the first date. She may get her heart broken, but oh, that first, initial joy is worth it. To truly live, is worth it.

Aside from my admiration for this character’s wardrobe (an enviable mix of shirt dresses and plucky hair bows), I also love that Jane travels with her own bourbon. You just can’t count on a foreign country to have all the comforts of home. Lucky for Jane, her pensione has all the ingredients on hand to turn that bourbon into a classic Boulevardier.

Boulevardier

1.5 oz Bourbon

1 oz Campari

1 oz Cinzano Sweet Red Vermouth

Orange Twist and Cherry garnish

Combine first three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Stir until chilled and combined, then strain into a glass filled with a large ice cube. Garnish with a twist of orange and Luxardo cherry.

Boulevardier

Cousin to the more popular Negroni, I actually prefer a Boulevardier if I’m going to commit to a heavier, alcohol-forward cocktail. And really, that’s what this movie needs. Something a little bitter, a little sweet, and very strong, just like Jane’s heart. Cheers!

Mad Max: Fury Road

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Mad Max: Fury Road

Image credit: Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015.

Chris Locke, for Splotch! here, guest correspondent for Cinema Sips (and husband of Liz Locke).

On the surface, Mad Max: Fury Road (Disc/Download) is a two-hour car chase, with a heavy dose of shoot-em-up, which makes it easy to see why my wife skipped seeing it in favor of some Jane Austen / Currer Bell movie with lots of stuffy accents and wooden buttons.  But Proust and Joyce don’t really fit the Splotchlife Criteria for Good Movies.

Three ingredients indicate huge potential for a high-quality movie.  Dust, dried blood, and fast cars.  It’s not that all good movies have these things, or that all movies with these things are good.  It’s just that in the Venn Diagram of Good Movies, there is a huge overlap between the circles that contain them.*

The problem is, my wife judged this movie based on the trailer, which doesn’t serve it justice.  Mad Max: Fury Road is a wild ride filled with themes of redemption, reluctant commitment, survival of the underdog, and once the viewer realizes it’s really not about Max, the whole thing changes.  This is the story of Furiosa, a tough-as-nails woman risking her life to save other more vulnerable women.  And where does she take them?  To the land of women, of course!  It’s an authentic feminist dream wrapped in an action burrito of explosions and motorcycles, and when you look for the parallel romance stories (between Nux and Capable, but also the classic “enemies-to-lovers” pairing of Max and Furiosa), there is certainly enough to entertain any open-minded person.

Still not convinced? Look at it as an allegory of our current times. The whole story revolves around a bunch of warmongering starving diseased sycophants blindly following a sadistic obese tyrannical maniac who causes their hardships, hoards the resources, holds the power to save the people, and convinces the less fortunate to blame themselves.  “Do not, my friends, become addicted to water. It will take hold of you, and you will resent its absence!” he says, as he dumps their most precious resource down the side of a dirty rock cliff, then shuts it off before they can get what they need.  This guy is a real piece of work.

The main characters try to escape their situation and then (SPOILER ALERT) realize the best thing they can do is not to escape, but to go back to where they live and fix it.  They overthrow the tyrannical government and give the people what they need.  It’s a real breath of fresh air, especially given the situation we are currently suffering through.  The greatest thing that comes from this movie: the message that you don’t have to escape.  You can stay and fight for change.

My wife has come around on this movie, but she needed a frozen beverage to do it. She said all the dust and heat made her uncomfortable. Even while we were sitting in air conditioning. Whatever. So if you’re a ninny, watch Mad Max: Fury Road with this Frozen Milk Punch. If you’re a real man, sprinkle some dirt in a rusty can of warm water and call it a day.

Frozen Milk Punch

1 cup Whole Milk

1/2 cup Bourbon

1 cup Crushed Ice

1 tsp Vanilla extract

2 Tbsp Simple syrup

1 cup Vanilla Ice Cream

Grated Nutmeg

Blend together first six ingredients until creamy. Garnish with a pinch of grated nutmeg.

Frozen Milk Punch

*Footnote: Secondary indicators include (but not limited to) apocalypse, kidnapping, homemade weapons.  Tertiary indicators include amateur surgery and a scene where the protagonist hangs upside-down from a moving vehicle with their face inches off the ground.  Unfortunately, this movie does not contain any of the following: a cop close to retirement, a vendetta, a briefcase full of unmarked bills, Nicholas Cage, double cross, horses (as transportation, never as pets), a time bomb, or a heist.  The salvation of the harem may be interpreted as a caper for academic purposes.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

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Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Image credit: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1958.

This week, I’m all about bourbon.  And honestly, you can’t find a better bourbon movie than Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Disc/Download).  I’m pretty sure Paul Newman had a highball glass glued to his hand throughout the shoot, and lord was there ever a sexier drunk than 1950s-era Newman?  I think not. If you’re sweltering through an endless summer like Brick, better grab the ice bucket and the full bottle—you’ll need them to get through this steamy drama.

Looking at this film purely from an aesthetic point of view, I’m immediately hooked by the gorgeous southern plantation sets, Elizabeth Taylor’s sensual costumes, and the rugged beauty of Paul Newman.  The man looks to be carved from marble, and is of course one hell of an actor.  Then there’s Elizabeth Taylor’s Maggie “the cat”, my role model for womanhood.  She’s tough, she’s conniving, and she’s not afraid to tell off bratty children.  Watching her smear ice cream over an annoying little girl’s head is SUCH a satisfying moment for me, and proof she’s the one with real Life in her.  It’s no wonder “Big Daddy” prefers her to his other daughter-in-law—you want the woman who will give you a cashmere robe for your birthday, not another loud-mouthed grandchild.

Although we’re supposed to feel anger or sympathy for Paul Newman’s alcoholic character Brick, I can’t help but be impressed.  This man knows how to hold his liquor!  Whether you’re sweating in a Mississippi plantation or just watching people onscreen do it, a cool drink will get you through the worst days of summer.  While watching Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, I recommend drinking this Mississippi Punch.

Mississippi Punch

2 oz Cognac

1 oz Bourbon

1 oz Jamaican Rum

½ oz Lemon Juice

½ oz simple syrup

Orange wedge for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a glass filled with crushed ice.  Garnish with an orange wedge.

Mississippi Punch.jpeg

Just like this cocktail, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is INTENSE.  By the end I’m exhausted from the emotional turmoil of these characters, and I wish someone would put them all out of their misery. But then Brick smirks and tells Maggie to “lock the door,” and I get that warm, satisfied feeling only a classic film and a great line can deliver.  Well… a great line and a lot of bourbon.  Cheers!

Out of Sight

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out of sight

Image credit: Out of Sight, 1998

I tend to spend a lot of time explaining the romance genre to people.  The books I read (and attempt to write) usually feature intelligent, capable heroines who find love in unexpected places, and never compromise their own integrity for a roll in the hay.  Elmore Leonard and Steven Soderbergh tackled romantic suspense with this week’s film Out of Sight (DVD/Download).  And the weird thing is, they got it SO RIGHT.

I’m going to warn all you ladies who are still mourning the loss of bachelor George Clooney- he is at absolute peak sexiness in this film. As Jack Foley, the bank robber with a heart of gold, he’s charming, a little dangerous, and oh so chivalrous. When he meets-cute with Jennifer Lopez’s federal marshal Karen Sisco, sparks fly along with bullets. They’re trapped in the trunk of a car together, and instead of copping a feel, he banters with her about old movies. Be still my heart! Karen follows him from Miami to Detroit, Jack gets caught up in a burglary gone bad, and even when things get dark (as they always do in an Elmore Leonard novel), Lopez and Clooney still share a crackling chemistry.

One of my favorite scenes is when these two star-crossed lovers pretend to be strangers in a bar, just for one night. With the snow falling outside, they’ve got bourbon and a steamy attraction to keep them warm. Let’s keep this cocktail simple with just a dash of ginger liqueur.

Bourbon & Ginger

2 oz Bourbon

.75 oz Ginger Liqueur

Combine bourbon and ginger liqueur over a large ice cube. Stir to chill.

Out of Sight is smart, sexy, and everything I love about romance. As Jack says, you’d be surprised what you can get when you ask for it the right way. Hollywood- I’d like more films where love is inconvenient, yet unavoidable. I want an intelligent script, and I want the heroine to be a total badass. And if it’s not too much to ask, I would like more Don Cheadle. Is that clear enough?  Cheers!

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!

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!