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Romancing the Stone

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Image Credit Twentieth Century Fox, Romancing the Stone, 1984

Image Credit Twentieth Century Fox, Romancing the Stone, 1984


I’m pleased to be responding to a recent movie request from an avid Cinema Sips reader this week. (side note- keep them coming! I love having to make one less decision in my life).  Romancing the Stone (DVD/Download) is a film I had always just associated with bored afternoons watching bad 80’s movies with my mom. Murphy’s Romance was another gem in her collection. When you’re under the age of 7, it’s hard to protest. But, ever the diplomat, I said I’d watch it and try to come up with a drink. Now that I’ve watched it again as an adult, I gotta admit- it’s pretty fun! I think as a child I was turned off by the fact that all of the actors were filthy and sweaty for much of the film. This is the reason it’s hard for me to like Westerns. When the characters look uncomfortable, I get uncomfortable. But, muddy, ripped wardrobe aside, this turned out to be a fabulous romp featuring campy villains and a heroine who travels to the jungles of Colombia with tiny liquor bottles in her purse- a gal after my own heart!

Romancing the Stone tells the story of romance novelist Joan Wilder (played by Kathleen Turner), who journeys to Colombia to save her kidnapped sister. She’s a writer who drinks alone and hangs out with her cat, living vicariously through the characters she creates. So when Wilder is thrust into a foreign land, she’s a disaster. Luckily, she meets Jack T. Colton (played by Michael Douglas), the charming knave who rescues her from the bad guys trying to steal her treasure map. Of course in the midst of running from the Colombian secret police, running from Danny DeVito, seeking out the treasure, AND trying to get to Cartagena to save the sister, they fall for one another. It’s a story right out of one of Joan Wilder’s romance novels- totally ludicrous, but totally fun. This is a really great movie to pair with a cocktail because although Joan looks pretty uptight and clueless on the surface, the lady can certainly hold her liquor. At one point she’s camped out with Michael Douglas in front of a fire made entirely of burning marijuana, drinking what looks to be a bottle of tequila, and she doesn’t even look that phased! I’d be passed out cold. Although, with a young, sexy Michael Douglas next to me, maybe not. Yes his hair is a little long, but he’s still got that incredible American President charm.

My drink this week was inspired by one that Kathleen Turner enjoys early on in the movie. While meeting with her publisher, she drinks this creamy green concoction that I felt was an odd choice. Whatever happened to the martini lunch? However, after seeing the “treasure” at the end of the map, which looks like a bright green plastic emerald lit by a follow-spot, I understand the green drink a little more. Foreshadowing with a cocktail- brilliant! While watching Romancing the Stone, I recommend drinking a Grasshopper.


1 oz green crème de menthe

1 oz white crème de cacao

2 scoops vanilla ice cream

Whipped cream for garnish

Blend all ingredients in a blender until thick and creamy, then pour into chilled glasses. Garnish with whipped cream.


I had to laugh while watching this movie because of the connection I felt to Joan Wilder. I too am a romance novelist (see first novel Design District on Amazon) and while I don’t exactly sit at my keyboard wearing giant headphones and sobbing, I do often get wrapped up in the storytelling. It’s incredibly fun to write characters who do wild things that I would never do in real life, saying things I would never have the guts to say. I love that Joan finds the adventure that she had previously only imagined, and I also love that her success as a writer gets her out of a jam multiple times. Who knows- maybe my next book will be a hit in the jungles of Colombia too, saving me from death by firing squad. Hey, it could happen. Cheers!

L.A. Confidential

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Image Credit Warner Bros. 1997, L.A. Confidential


Gangsters and high-class hookers. 1950’s movie stars. Glamorous fashions. Russell Crowe when he was young and thin. That’s right, I’m talking about L.A. Confidential (DVD/Download). This 1997 film based on a James Ellroy novel and directed by Curtis Hanson is one of my all-time favorites, and an absolutely perfect movie to pair with a cocktail. L.A. Confidential deserves and needs your undivided attention, so put down the iphones and laptops, and make your drink before you press Play because the plot has more twists and turns than a street in the Hollywood Hills.

L.A. Confidential centers on three cops in the LAPD who find their cases intersecting in one riveting vice/homicide mash-up. Guy Pearce plays bookish detective Edmund Exley, Russell Crowe plays the heavy-handed goon/good guy Bud White, and Kevin Spacey is the fun-loving Jack Vincennes who stumbles onto a vice case that was more than he bargained for. I love the way the script weaves back and forth between their cases, until eventually they are knotted together. Kim Basinger turns in a great performance as Lynn Bracken, the hooker dolled up to look like Veronica Lake. I love movies that reference classic cinema, and it’s a lot of fun to see actresses/models cut to look like Lake, Ginger Rogers, and Rita Hayworth. Of course one of the best scenes comes at the hands of Vincennes and Exley interrogating Lana Turner and Johnny Stompanato. I laugh every time because it’s one of the rare comedic moments in this pulpy noir film (outside of any scene with Danny DeVito of course).

For my cocktail this week, I’m serving up a drink that would have been fashionable around the time this movie takes place. It was popularized by Raymond Chandler, another noir writer, though I’m making it a little differently than he would have. In The Long Goodbye, he called for simply “half gin and half Rose’s lime juice,” but I like to add a little simple syrup to my gimlet. After all, Bud White is a sweetie at heart!

White Gimlet

2 oz gin

½ oz Lime Juice

½ oz simple syrup

Lime wedge for garnish

Mix gin, lime juice, and simple syrup together in a cocktail shaker over ice. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with lime.

White Gimlet


Enjoy this drink and pretend you’re Lynn Bracken entertaining either Russell Crowe or Guy Pearce in her glamorous Art Deco bungalow, or perhaps you’d rather be sipping it at the Brown Derby. This film makes me so nostalgic for the glamour of Tinseltown, because even when they’re crawling around looking for dead bodies or roughing up a gangster at an abandoned motel, these cops still call each other by their full names and wear hats. Things were so civilized back then! So enjoy L.A.Confidential as you sip your gimlet, and try not to get so drunk that you end up whispering Rollo Tomasi in your husband’s ear for the millionth time while he tries not to become annoyed with you (not that I’m speaking from experience, *wink*). Cheers!