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Inside Llewyn Davis

Image credit: Inside Llewyn Davis, 2013

I’ve never been much of a “cat person”, but Inside Llewyn Davis (Disc/Download) has definitely made me a “folk singer with a cat” person. If you look at my record collection, you’ll see a lot of 1960s folk/singer/songwriter albums, but leave it to the Coen Brothers to make me fall in love with my favorite music genre all over again. I guess that’s the thing about folk music, as they say. It was never new, and it never gets old.

When we talk about unsympathetic characters in movies and fiction, we may as well have a poster of Llewyn Davis hanging up as an example. This incredibly talented, perpetually broke singer bums couches and meals from his gullible friends, impregnates a married woman (though, to be fair, it does take two to tango, Jean), and insults his fellow Gaslight performers with no regard to the frequently sensitive nature of artists.  In short, he’s an ass. And yet, his talent makes him someone you still want to root for. Surely, if the whole world could just hear him sing “Fare Thee Well”, he’d finally get the recognition he deserves, get his life together, and become a more thoughtful person. But since the movie itself is like a folk song, we see him make the same mistakes over and over, caught in a loop of reacting (badly) to crisis after crisis.

Perhaps Llewyn’s biggest mistake made is letting a pet cat escape from the apartment where he’s been crashing. He’s then forced to carry it around New York City, in the dead of winter, and we all know how cats just love to be toted like a handbag. While watching Inside Llewyn Davis, toast his feline friend with this Tomcat cocktail. Working with an animal may have been misery for the filmmakers, but it was magic for us.

Tomcat

2 oz Old Tom Gin

1 oz Sweet Vermouth

2 dashes Orange Bitters

Luxardo Maraschino cherry

Orange Twist

Combine gin, vermouth, and bitters in a shaker with ice. Stir to combine and chill, then strain into a glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with a cherry and orange twist.

Oscar Isaac carries this movie so well, but let’s not forget about the stellar supporting cast. Adam Driver makes a fun appearance as one third of a trio singing a gimmicky song about astronauts, and even Justin Timberlake does a great rendition of “Five Hundred Miles” with Carey Mulligan. As ever, the Coen Brothers have created a world that’s very specific, and at the same time universal– much like the music they so lovingly celebrate. Cheers!

The Great Gatsby

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Image Credit Warner Bros. Pictures, 2013

Image Credit Warner Bros. Pictures, 2013

What else can we say about one of the greatest American novels ever to be written? A novel that’s been adapted several times onto the big screen, to varying degrees of success? Plenty, as it turns out. Think what you will about Baz Luhrmann’s most recent adaptation of The Great Gatsby (DVD/Download), but one thing it is not is boring. I’ll admit, at times I found it a bit slow (ahem- everything after the car accident), however the raucous party scenes more than make up for that. Plus, it is a truly perfect film for pairing with a cocktail.  Back in the ’20’s, they knew how to pour a good drink.

I don’t need to bore anybody with a synopsis of The Great Gatsby, as I’m assuming we all read it in high school. And if you’ve never read it, order or download it right now!! Even if it’s a bit trite to say, this really is one of my favorite books. I think the reason directors have such a hard time turning it into a movie is because the language in the book is so beautiful. The plot is interesting, sure, but the language- that’s what keeps you reading. The sheer perfection of Fitzgerald’s prose is enough to make me give up writing altogether because I know I’ll never be as talented as he was. However, I can be as drunk as he reputedly was, and so can you if you follow my recipe below!

When watching this movie, which takes place during the roaring ’20s, I’m compelled to use a liquor which was like water back then- gin. I love the culture of the speakeasy and the raucous, never-ending parties of the wealthy, not to mention the clothes and bobbed hairstyles. But really, even the best-dressed character in this film looks naked without a cocktail glass in their hand. Because Baz Luhrmann’s film has more effervescence and pizazz than any other adaptations of this story, I’m serving up a Gin Fizz this week.

Prohibition Gin Fizz

2 oz gin

Dash of lime juice

½ tsp simple syrup

1 egg white

Soda Water

Lime twist for garnish

Pour the gin, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 30-60 seconds (I promise, it’s worth it). Strain into a glass and top with soda water. Garnish with lime twist.

Gin-Fizz

I like to drink this and imagine I’m at Gatsby’s mansion, wearing any number of the beautiful creations Carey Mulligan gets to model as Daisy Buchanan. I could probably take a pass on the strange hip-hop/jazz mash-ups that populate this movie in favor of classic jazz, but I’d enjoy every minute of being fought over by Leonardo DiCaprio and Joel Edgerton (can I just say WOW about his performance as Tom Buchanan??). Even if you’ve read the book many times like I have, and have seen all the movies, it’s still pretty fun to watch this version, especially with a tasty cocktail. Is it a perfect movie? No. Is it fun? Absolutely. Jay Gatsby wouldn’t have had it any other way. Cheers!