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Tag Archives: Cocktails

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

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steve zissou campari

Image credit: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, 2004.

I’m a big fan of theme months on Cinema Sips, so imagine my surprise when I realized past themes have always centered around a particular film style, but never a cocktail.  To switch things up, this month I’ve chosen a trendy spirit you might not already have in your bar, but probably should.  Gotta have something to offer the hip millennials right?  Campari fits the bill perfectly, and to kick things off, I’ll be watching the film that made this Italian aperitif cool again- Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (DVD/Download).

Inspired by the life and films of Jacques Cousteau, The Life Aquatic is a fairly mixed bag of Wes-isms. There are (slightly cheesy) stop-motion animation sequences, a dollhouse-like ship with incredibly specific room functions, odd but cool fashion choices, and a cast of regulars like Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, Jeff Goldblum, and Willem Dafoe. Although this is essentially a Moby Dick story of an arrogant explorer chasing down the murderous and elusive jaguar shark, the complicated relationships Zissou has with basically everyone on his ship turn this into a heavier film than I might have expected. By the end, I’d laughed, I’d cried, and I’d started to google Italian Riviera vacations.

Steve Zissou is many things- explorer, terrible husband, flirt, friend, but most importantly, lover of Campari. Sophisticated and simple- splash some over an ice cube, add a twist of lemon, and you’ve got a drink fit for a dashing underwater explorer. While watching The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, I recommend drinking Campari on the Rocks.

Campari on the Rocks

Campari

Citrus Twist

Ice

Pour a generous amount of Campari over ice, and garnish with a lemon or orange twist. Sip, and think of the one that got away.

campari on the rocks

Being the style geek that I am, I can’t help but admire the Campari bottle itself.  Not only is the label as cool as a Brazilian David Bowie cover artist, but the red liqueur looks fantastic against the mint green walls of The Belafonte.  From Wes Anderson, I would expect nothing less. Cheers!

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Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Image credit: Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, 2008

You’ll have to forgive me, but I’m totally obsessed with Frances McDormand. The front-runner for this year’s Academy Award for Best Actress (for her unforgettable role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), she’s long been a favorite of mine in films like Friends With Money, and this week’s Cinema Sips pick Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (DVD/Download).  No matter what happens on Oscar night, I think we should all bow down to the woman who has made “telling it like it is” into an artform.

As Guinevere Pettigrew, McDormand speaks simple truths softly. She’s the guiding force ditzy American singer/actress Delysia Lefosse (a campy Amy Adams) desperately needs as she juggles three competing bachelors in 1930’s London. Poor Miss Pettigrew just wants a meal, but she’s too busy playing caretaker and maid to this scatterbrained screwball. The art deco sets and costumes are completely transporting, and understated romance makes this script sparkle like a diamond brooch. Will Miss Pettigrew get her happy ending with Joe the lingerie designer? Have a cocktail and find out.

Although Miss Pettigrew doesn’t drink, she finds it difficult to refuse Delysia’s offer of a cocktail.  It’s different, you know.  Enjoy this classic libation and see if you can guess which bachelor will win Delysia’s heart in this wacky horserace. While watching Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, I recommend drinking a Silver Screen Gin Fizz.

Silver Screen Gin Fizz

2 oz Gin

1 oz simple syrup

¾ oz Lemon Juice

4-5 dashes grapefruit bitters

1 egg white

Club Soda

Combine first 5 ingredients in a cocktail shaker without ice first, and shake until frothy. Add ice, then shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a glass, and top with club soda.

Gin Fizz

This film reminds me so much of wonderful screwball comedies by Preston Sturgess and Howard Hawkes. The dialogue is rapid, the actors look like they’re having the time of their lives, and the costumes make me want to give up my job so I can walk around in satin and fur all day without being ridiculed. I guess I’ll just have to save it for the weekend. Cheers!

West Side Story

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West Side Story

Image credit: West Side Story, 1961

I have a very important question for all you Cinema Sips readers- are you Team Jet or Team Shark? Personally, I’m Team Jet, due to my not-so-secret crush on Russ Tamblyn. But no matter which side you’re on, I think we can all agree that West Side Story (DVD/Download) is one of the most delightfully jazzy discourses on immigration and gang warfare that cinema has to offer.

Based on the Broadway hit with music by Leonard Bernstein and choreography by Jerome Robbins, West Side Story is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Instead of the Montagues and Capulets, it’s the Jets and the Sharks- Polish vs. Puerto Rican on the mean streets of New York. Jet Tony falls for Shark Maria, and we pretty much know these star-crossed lovers are doomed from the get-go. I adore the production design- one big Technicolor feast for the eyes. Even the songs are catchy, and this coming from someone who is emphatically Anti-Sondheim. Maybe it’s the beautiful Bernstein score that rescues his lyrics. This is one of those rare musicals that’s never going to seem dated, mainly because the story of Romeo and Juliet is so timeless. Plus, what girl hasn’t twirled around the bedroom singing “I Feel Pretty”? Just me? Really? Well okay then.

One of my favorite songs in the film is “America”, Rita Moreno’s snappy ode to her adopted home. However, her native territory of Puerto Rico is no slouch either. It’s got some great things going for it, such as the eggnog-esque cocktail Coquito. Sweet, boozy, flavorful- it’s the perfect pairing for this film. While watching West Side Story, I recommend drinking Coquito.

Coquito

2 cans coconut cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 can evaporated milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups rum

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a blender, mixing well until frothy. Refrigerate overnight, then serve chilled over ice.

Coquito

I like to think that if every American could just watch this incredible film, there would be no talk of a wall or fights about Dreamers. Every immigrant, no matter how they got here or where they came from, deserves a chance at a better life. That’s America. Quick- how can we orchestrate a Turner Classic Movies takeover of Fox News?? Cheers!

Weekend at Bernie’s II

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Weekend at Bernies 2

Image credit: Weekend at Bernie’s II, 1993.

I harbor a secret (or not-so-secret) love for most of the terrible sequels I’ve featured this month. A lot of them were favorites from my childhood that still bring me a certain amount of glee. I went into this week thinking that Weekend at Bernie’s II (DVD/Download) was actually pretty good, based on my memory from 20 years ago. Welllllll……. I admit. I was wrong. Go ahead, put in me in movie jail and make me watch Ingmar Bergman films as punishment. I deserve it.

I get a shocking amount of traffic on Cinema Sips from my original Weekend at Bernie’s post, so I know there are a lot of Terry Kiser fans out there. The first movie was ridiculous, but it was FUN! You kind of believed that it was possible for a self-centered group of one-percenters to not notice an actual human corpse in their midst. But in the sequel, all believability goes out the window with a trio of asinine plots. #1- Bernie is raised from the dead by a voodoo priestess working for mobsters. #2- the people who actually perform the voodoo ceremony are two random dudes with no connection to anything, yet they spend the whole movie following a shuffling Bernie around in search of the mob’s money. #3- Rich and Larry are back, and decide to look for the money Bernie embezzled in the first movie. They’re being trailed by Barry Bostwick, who is hired to prove that the two doofuses were in on the embezzlement. Essentially, all these people are following Bernie, I can’t keep anything straight, and I eventually throw my hands in the air and accept that this movie MAKES NO SENSE.

The one thing Weekend at Bernie’s II has going for it is a gorgeous tropical locale in the Virgin Islands. Richard and Larry spend most of their time at the hotel bar, avoiding the stench of a rotting corpse in their mini fridge (don’t ask). If you’re like me, you’ll need a lot of rum to make this funny. While watching Weekend at Bernie’s II, I recommend drinking a Voodoo cocktail.

Voodoo

2 oz aged rum

¾ oz Martini Rosso Vermouth

2 ½ oz pressed apple juice

½ oz lime juice

¼ oz simple syrup.

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks filled Collins glass.

I’d like to think I’ve always had impeccable taste in movies, but this one proves that there are a few missteps in my past. It also proves that not all sequels are created equal. For every Before Sunset, there’s a Weekend at Bernie’s II, which (like Bernie himself), is long past its sell-by date. But if you must watch, by all means please- do it with a cocktail. Cheers!

*Side note-  Pretty, pretty please do not judge Andrew McCarthy for participating in this film.  I like to think that he financed his later career as an AMAZING travel writer with the money he got from this schlock.  In my opinion- totally worth it.  I highly recommend his book The Longest Way Home.

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights

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Dirty Dancing Havana Nights

Image credit: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, 2004

I’m not going to pretend that this sequel holds a candle to the original Dirty Dancing. I don’t care what re-makes or sequels come down the pipeline, there will never be another Patrick Swayze. However- if you’re looking for a fun film with fabulous vintage clothes, gorgeous Cuban aesthetic, and the ever-adorable Diego Luna, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (DVD/Download) has you covered. Plus- bonus Swayze cameo!

In the same spirit of the original, Havana Nights follows a “good girl” who falls in love with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Katey can’t stand the entitled American jerks of her own social set, so when a cute Cuban waiter rescues her from the mean streets of Havana, she jumps at the chance to befriend him and spice up her ballroom dancing with some Latin moves. Even Patrick Swayze pops up as the hotel’s dance instructor, in a strange Johnny Castle time-warp. But even 17 years later, he’s still got the moves.

I’ve already featured the recipe for a classic mojito with the much-more-authentic revolution film I Am Cuba, as well as a watermelon sandia with the original Dirty Dancing. So why not combine the two? While watching Dirty Dancing Havana Nights, I recommend drinking a Watermelon Mojito.

Watermelon Mojito

2-3 Fresh watermelon cubes

2 oz white rum

Fresh mint leaves

2 tsp sugar

1 oz lime juice

Club Soda

Muddle watermelon, sugar, lime juice, and mint in the bottom of a glass. Add rum, then top with club soda. Stir gently to combine.

Watermelon Mojito

I’ll admit, this movie is mainly just a great excuse to ogle Diego Luna and drink mojitos. And damn if that Wyclef Jean song isn’t just as catchy as “Time of My Life”. Now that Americans can finally visit Cuba again, it might be time to dust off my Spanish and figure out the visa situation. But only if I can dance like a gringa and yell “Cooba!”  Cheers!

Away We Go

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Film Title: Away We Go

Image credit: Away We Go, 2009

Sometimes travel has nothing to do with business or pleasure, and everything to do with searching. Searching for a person, or a place, or maybe just a feeling. In Away We Go (DVD/Download), two soon-to-be parents embark on a quest across North America to find perhaps the most important thing of all- Home. As it turns out, this is one of the hardest destinations to find.

Directed by Sam Mendes and starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, Away We Go is full of both earnestness and humor. I see myself and so many people I know in these characters, two well-meaning people forced to grapple with this idea of adulthood and finding one’s place in the world. Pregnancy is a catalyst, but don’t mistake this for a She’s Having a Baby type of discourse on parenthood. Instead this is a film about two unique individuals who finally have to grow up and figure out the kind of future they want. Visiting friends and relatives in Phoenix, Madison, Montreal, and Miami, they search for an anchor to tie their boat to. Beautifully shot, with a soundtrack by Alexi Murdoch, this film truly feels like a journey.

Throughout Away We Go, John Krasinski waxes poetic on the allure of the Mighty Mississippi, and wanting to give his child a “Huck Finn” kind of upbringing. It’s a romantic notion, and certainly refreshing in the age of smartphones and videogames. When we finally see the Mississippi in this film, it feels utterly majestic. While watching Away We Go, I recommend drinking a Mighty MissisSip.

Mighty MissisSip

1 ½ oz Light Rum

1 oz Whiskey

3 oz fresh lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

Lemon Twist

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker full of ice, and shake until combined. Strain into a chilled coupe glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.

I was in the very fortunate position to decide where I wanted to build a future before I got tied down with responsibility. I knew I didn’t like where I was living at the time (sorry DC), so I considered all the places I’d ever been that had felt like home. Austin won out, and not for a clear-cut reason. Nobody can explain why a certain place feels like home, it just….does. And as much as we want to tell ourselves that home is a person, I’m not sure I believe that. There’s a unique sense of purpose and hope that one feels when they look around and realize they’ve discovered the place where they belong. Like the characters in Away We Go, I’m grateful to have found mine. Cheers!