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Tag Archives: Cointreau

Escape from the Planet of the Apes

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Image credit: Escape from the Planet of the Apes, 1971

To quote Romy and Michele, “I just get really happy when they finally let her shop.”

The “her” in this case is Dr. Zira, one of the greatest heroines in cinema history, and star of my favorite chapter within the Planet of the Apes franchise, Escape from the Planet of the Apes (Disc/Download). I’ve written about my love of these films before, but this week I’d like to go into more detail about why I’m so darn crazy about this particular one. Let’s unpack.

In my mind, I’ve given all the Apes movies simple descriptors. #1 is “the Charlton Heston”, #2 is “the weird one”, #4 is “the prison one”, and #5 is “the one with all the battles”. But #3 is the best of all because it’s “the Rege-Bev-Wilsh one”. That’s right, just like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, the Apes travel to Los Angeles, and somehow land themselves a cushy suite at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, a limo, and a fabulous shopping spree. Was Garry Marshall a secret Dr. Zira fan?? We’ll never know. But I like to think Zira and Vivian are cosmically linked in a more general sense. Both are strong, smart, and independent. Both have incredible fashion sense. Both drink too much champagne and get a little giggly. And both of them know how to love fiercely, with their whole hearts. Indeed, it’s this fierce love that makes #3 the most emotionally poignant Apes film in the series. Having fled Future Earth with her husband Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) before a nuclear explosion destroys the planet, Zira arrives in the past having all the answers about what’s to come. And what’s to come is not good for humans. The biggest threat arrives in the form of the unborn child of Zira and Cornelius, who is destined to be the link between humans and intelligent apes. The US government wants to destroy that link to save their own species, and thus Zira and Cornelius must take drastic measures to protect her pregnancy. Throw in Ricardo Montalbán as a kindhearted circus owner, plus a switched-at-birth plotline, and you’ve got one riveting soap opera of a movie.

Before you go thinking of this movie as a Sci-Fi Shakespearean tragedy, let me reassure you- it’s definitely got its silly moments. Such as the ’70s sitcom music playing over shopping montages, or the time Zira goes to a cocktail party and gets drunk on “Grape Juice Plus” (aka, champagne). For some reason, the humans seem to think apes love oranges, so maybe that’s the “plus” they’re referring to? Let’s try it and see. While watching Escape from the Planet of the Apes, I recommend drinking Grape Juice Plus.

Grape Juice Plus

1 oz Cointreau

3 oz Champagne

Orange twist or dried orange for garnish

Build drink in a champagne flute. Garnish with an orange twist or wheel.

It’s become a bit of a tradition in my house to watch the Apes movies over a long weekend in January, and it almost feels like the New Year doesn’t officially start until Dr. Zira shows up in a pink cape like some sort of brilliant psychology superhero. I’ve had a lot on my plate the last month (such as finishing a major home renovation, plus editing and promoting my upcoming novel!), so taking the opportunity to relax with a glass of bubbly and a great movie feels almost decadent. Dr. Zira, let’s just go ahead and reserve next year’s stay at the Rege-Bev-Wilsh now. I’ll bring the grape juice. Cheers!

Wait Until Dark

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Image credit: Wait Until Dark, 1967

Word of warning: DO NOT watch this movie right before bedtime. I made this mistake, and now my days of walking through a dark house in search of a midnight snack or bottle of water are over. If you’ve come to expect humor and lightness in your Audrey Hepburn flicks, Wait Until Dark (Disc/Download) will defy all your expectations—in the best possible way.

Starring Audrey as blind housewife Susy Hendrix, the story begins with a drug smuggling operation wherein a doll stuffed with heroin is unwittingly passed to Susy’s photographer husband at an airport. Soon afterward, he goes off on assignment again, leaving her alone with the doll. Three con-artists attempt to gain entrance into Susy’s apartment, cooking up an elaborate scheme to make her earn their trust, but eventually, she realizes these men are not who they say they are, and in a completely terrifying climax scene, blind Susy turns out the lights and levels the playing field. Or rather, the killing field. Because among her tormentors is one very young Alan Arkin, with an accent like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’s Lenny Bruce, and a look straight out of an Oasis music video. He’s smart, he’s sadistic, and he will make you afraid to go near your fridge ever again.

With a doll being the thing that sets this plot in motion, it seems appropriate to drink a cocktail fit for Madame Alexander’s. While watching Wait Until Dark, I recommend drinking a Satin Doll.

Satin Doll

2 oz Brandy

1 oz Cointreau

1 oz Pineapple Juice

1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Pineapple Chunk

Lemon Twist

Combine Brandy, Cointreau, and pineapple and lemon juice in a shaker over ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with fresh pineapple and lemon twist.

An unexpectedly great find on my list of 1967 releases, this movie would eventually earn Hepburn a Best Actress nomination and go on to terrify audiences for decades to come. If you’re looking for a smart, adult thriller, it’s time to turn off the lights and hit play on Wait Until Dark. Cheers!

Victor/Victoria

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Victor Victoria

Image credit: Victor/Victoria, 1982.

From Breakfast at Tiffany’s, to The Party, to the Pink Panther films, I am devoted to the comic genius of Blake Edwards. The man does party scenes like nobody else, giving us a blend of style and cheekiness that all but defines 1960s cinema. Victor/Victoria (Disc/Download) may fit squarely in the 1980s (blame Robert Preston’s hair), but I still put it alongside those other classic ‘60s gems. It’s got flair, whit, and above all, it pushes boundaries.

Starring Edwards’ wife Julie Andrews as a hungry soprano masquerading as a female impersonator in 1930s Paris, this film broke a lot of social barriers. Mary Poppins playing a woman, playing a man, who’s playing a woman is something I never thought I’d see, but this role was unexpectedly perfect for Andrews. She struts about the nightclub stage with confidence, making her audience forget about pedestrian concepts like gender and sexuality. Svengali/Manager Toddy (a role originally intended for Peter Sellers before his sudden death) provides witty banter and one-liners for days, their friendship serving as the true heart of the movie. Sure, we’re meant to root for love interest James Garner, the Chicago mobster who can’t figure out why he’s in love with a man (until realizing “he’s” a “she”), but by the end I don’t even care if James and Julie run off into the Pre-World War II sunset. I just want her to drink champagne in bed with Toddy forever.

Speaking of champagne, these characters drink a lot of it. There’s even one impressive number done by an acrobat balancing on a champagne bottle (CLASSIC Edwards physical comedy). Let’s join these liberal, sophisticated Parisians by drinking a Shady Dame.

Shady Dame

4 oz champagne

½ oz Lillet Blanc

½ oz Cointreau

½ oz Lemon Juice

Lemon Twist

Combine Lillet, Cointreau, and Lemon Juice in a shaker over ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Top with champagne, and a twist of lemon.

Shady Lady

In a lot of ways, this film is a snapshot of “before” (before WWII, before the Nazi occupation of Paris), and yet, also a preview of “after”. After we learn to give up our arbitrary rules regarding gender and sexuality and just let people be who they are. After we say it’s okay for anybody, male, female, or non-binary, to wear flamenco dresses, drink champagne, and laugh. Cheers!

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.

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 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 sex work 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!