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Tag Archives: champagne cocktail

Belle de Jour

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belledejour

Image credit: Belle de Jour, 1967

It is one of my greatest sorrows that I missed being alive during the 1960’s. Sure it was a turbulent time in many ways, but the fashions- oh, the fashions. I’ve done my best to channel what I’ve seen on screen into my current wardrobe (thanks Boden!) but I despair that I’ll never have the style of Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour (DVD/Download). Everything, from her rain coat to her underwear, is perfection. Prostitution never looked so glamorous.

Directed by Luis Bunuel, Belle de Jour is a surprisingly modern film about sexual desire, marriage, and the secrets we keep locked away. Catherine Deneuve is stunning as Severine, the perfect French housewife who gives into her depraved yearnings by working at a brothel. Each day, before the clock strikes 5:00, she satisfies her baser fantasies with men of all types. Eventually she meets a gangster named Marcel, who has all the swagger of a young Mick Jaggar, and despite knowing her time with him is essentially make-believe, Severine finally comes alive. Her debasement is both elegant and sad, as though her perfect outward appearance is just an elaborate mask for the turmoil happening behind those impossibly pretty eyes.

It wouldn’t be a movie about prostitution without bottles of champagne, and Belle de Jour does not disappoint. Glamorous Madam Anais serves it up freely (though warm). Add some French liqueur, and you’ve got a cocktail with style.  While watching Belle de Jour, I recommend drinking a Boisson du Jour.

Boisson du Jour

4 oz French champagne

1 oz Cointreau

2 dashes grapefruit bitters

Orange twist

Combine ingredients in a coupe glass, stirring gently to combine. Garnish with an orange twist.

Time is a strong motif in Belle de Jour, even down to the title. Severine is the Daytime Beauty, only emerging while the sun is up. We hear the ticking clock at Madam Anais’, and we know that her time is slowly running out. When the clock strikes 5, she’ll take her impeccably tailored raincoat, pillbox hat, and cute buckled shoes and go home to a life that doesn’t quite fit. But then again, perhaps it was all a daydream. Cheers!

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Ghost World

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ghost-world

Image credit: Ghost World, 2001

My apologies in advance for the shameless promotion this week, but I just can’t help it. I am SO excited for the publication of my husband’s newest book Draw Like This!, a fun and instructional guide for budding artists. Seriously, I wish I’d had this book when I was in art class.  It would have saved me so much stress and eraser smudging. I’ve had my share of art teachers over the years, and many of them could have inspired Illeana Douglas’ character in this week’s film Ghost World (DVD/Download). Chunky jewelry, a checkered past, and a heavy appreciation of symbolism are apparently all you need to cut it as an art instructor. And if all else fails, set up a student critique and call it a day.

Based on the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, Ghost World is probably in my top ten all-time favorite films. Perhaps it’s because I was Enid in high school- jaded against my hometown, indifferent about the future, and worshipful of anything weird or different. And yes, that includes Steve Buscemi (still a movie-star crush of mine). I had the colored hair, the sketchbook, the vinyl records, and the scowl.  The story of Enid and her best friend Rebecca (played by a very young Scarlett Johansson) growing apart is so honest, and very true of the journey most of us take in young adulthood. We have to figure out ourselves first before we can figure out how to relate to other people.

Let’s face it, late adolescence is all about making bad choices. Not that I would call drinking too much champagne and sleeping with nice-guy Steve Buscemi a bad choice per-se, but for Enid it isn’t the smartest move. While watching Ghost World, I recommend drinking a One Night Stand.

One Night Stand

Champagne

1 Tsp brown sugar

3/4 oz Brandy

3 dashes angostura bitters

Orange peel

Place brown sugar in the bottom of a coupe glass, and top with bitters.  Add brandy, then top with champagne until full.  Garnish with an orange twist.

draw-like-this

As I think about what it means to be an artist, I realize that making great art is not about shocking viewers or arbitrarily assigning deep meaning to something ordinary. To me, it’s about finding what you enjoy, sticking with it, and finding your own voice. Whether it’s writing or drawing, any good teacher would tell you that practice is what makes the difference between success and failure. Of course, it helps to have some really great technical advice along the way (like the lessons in Draw Like This!). And, maybe some chunky jewelry. Cheers!

Gigi

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Image credit: MGM, Gigi, 1958

Image credit: MGM, Gigi, 1958

Responding to a reader request this week, I’m featuring what has been deemed by many as the last great MGM Musical, Gigi (DVD/Download). The original Broadway play starred a young Audrey Hepburn, who sadly declined the lead role in this 1958 musical film version. Leslie Caron is charming enough, but let’s face it, she’s no Audrey.

Gigi is the story of a young woman in Paris who is groomed for life as a courtesan by her grandmother and great-aunt. She grows up thinking of family acquaintance Gaston as an older brother-type, until her meddlesome family pushes them together romantically. Gaston suddenly sees Gigi in a new light, and offers to make her his mistress. She refuses initially, then relents. Then he reconsiders their arrangement, but then proposes marriage. If this sounds confusing, it is. I actually needed some Wikipedia help to get through this one, and I’m still not sure I totally understood it. The main problem originates from the severe French accents that most of the actors use. I probably would have done better if they had actually spoken French, with subtitles. Much of the plot moves forward through the songs, however the tunes weren’t all that catchy to me. I prefer musicals with big, splashy song-and-dance numbers (like Singin’ in the Rain), and that just isn’t Gigi. This is more of a My Fair Lady, Rex Harrison “I’m speaking these songs because I can’t really sing” variety of musical. I tip my hat to Maurice Chevalier, who manages to make the pedophile anthem “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” seem marginally charming. This is probably the best song from the film, though I have personal negative connotations after dancing to it in a kindergarten recital while a Maurice Chevalier look-alike twirled us around on stage. And then I stumbled mid-twirl. But I digress.

There are some fabulous scenes at Belle Epoche haunt Maxim’s, where art nouveau scenery frames colorful men and women drinking champagne and gossiping. I love that the men in Gigi are unafraid to drink copious amounts of champagne, as I feel it’s fallen victim to a “girly” reputation in recent decades. Therefore, while watching Gigi, I recommend drinking a Sparkling Gigi-tini.

Sparkling Gigi-tini

1 oz Vodka

2 oz Pineapple Juice

½ oz Brandy

2 oz champagne

Mix Vodka, Pineapple, and Brandy together in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe glass, and top with champagne.

Gigi Tini

Two things I really did love about Gigi were the costumes and the sets. All that art nouveau fabulousness in Maurice Chevalier’s apartment made me swoon, and Leslie Caron’s white dress toward the end (which I mistook for a wedding dress because up until that point I still didn’t understand she was learning to be a courtesan) was pretty fantastic. How did I live all these years without black fans jutting out from my shoulders? Cecil Beaton was truly a master of costume design. With stunning visuals orchestrated by Vincent Minnelli, you could do worse than this musical. And of course, a little champagne makes everything better. Cheers!

The Philadelphia Story

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Philadelphia Story

I am so excited this week to write about one of my favorite films from the golden age of Hollywood, The Philadelphia Story. One of the reasons this is a favorite of mine is not just because of its sparkling dialogue, beautiful art deco sets, and long langorous cocktail hours of a wealthy Philadelphia family, but rather because it stars one of my all-time favorite actors, Jimmy Stewart. In a strange coincidence, I was actually born and raised in Jimmy Stewart’s hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania. However, I like to think I would have been a fan even if our ancestors hadn’t shared the same zip code once upon a time. The Philadelphia Story was actually the film that won Stewart his only acting Academy Award in 1941, and it’s easy to see why. His performance as writer Macaulay “Mike” Connor is just marvelous.

The other two big stars of this film are Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Hepburn plays a divorced Philadelphia socialite who’s engaged to be married once again. Her ex-husband (played by Grant) comes to see her the day before the wedding, bringing along two reporters who are there to cover the wedding, but really do little more than get under Hepburn’s skin. Hepburn and Grant’s verbal sparring is masterful, however it is truly Jimmy Stewart as a reporter who steals the show (and for a time, Hepburn’s heart). He breezes into all of his scenes, tall and lanky and charming, offering up the absolute best one liners. I swear, every time I watch him ask the librarian at a Quaker library “Dost thou have a washroom?” I get the giggles. This is also a great film for cocktail pairings because Grant has a long history with whiskey, and Hepburn and Stewart have a booze and moonlight-fueled tryst by the swimming pool. They break into the wedding champagne a touch early, giving Jimmy Stewart a chance to really show his acting chops as a happy drunk.

When I watch this film, so many cocktail opportunities come to mind. On one hand, I’d love to mix up a batch of Uncle Willie’s Stingers, however with so much bubbly flowing, I’ve got to go with a classic champagne cocktail. This week, I’m serving up a drink called Cinderella’s Slipper (the name’s origin will become obvious about halfway through the movie).

CinderellasSlipper

Cinderella’s Slipper

1 Sugar Cube

2-3 Dashes Angostura bitters

1 oz Brandy

Champagne

Orange peel for garnish

Place the sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne flute. Use the dashes of Angostura bitters to saturate the sugar cube. Add the brandy. As you fill the flute with champagne, the sugar cube will dissolve. Garnish with orange peel.

This drink typically calls for a maraschino cherry as a garnish in the bottom of the flute, but I like to think that Hepburn’s character Tracy Lord would never do anything so gauche. Sip this as you watch Jimmy Stewart carry Katharine Hepburn around in his fluffy white robe, and I dare you to not chime in when he starts drunkenly shouting “Oh C.K. Dexter Haaaaven!” This film is classic Hollywood screwball comedy at its best, and I for one plan on watching it, champagne flute in hand, while imagining what it must have been like to be Katharine Hepburn back then. Cary Grant on my right arm, Jimmy Stewart on my left. Not exactly a terrible place to be. Cheers!

Drawing by Christopher Locke

Drawing by Christopher Locke