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Tag Archives: F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

benjamin-button

Image credit: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2008

Greetings from New Orleans! I’m off on a little sojourn in the Big Easy, taking in the sights and doing some much-needed cocktail research (very important business). To prepare for my trip I’ve been watching some New Orleans-set films, including this week’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (DVD/Download). Some star-crossed romance and beautiful Garden District scenes are just what I need to kick off this week of bon temps.

Based on the story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button stars Brad Pitt as a man who ages in reverse. Fate intervenes and brings him together periodically with his true love Daisy, played by Cate Blanchett. We know going in that this can’t be a story with a happy ending, though there are some beautiful scenes of the two lovers “meeting in the middle” of their lives. What Benjamin’s tale teaches us is that backwards or forwards, life is a long journey that we’ve just got to make the best of. Also, we learn that Brad Pitt will one day be a very adorable old man.

Part of my excitement over a trip to New Orleans is that this was the city that launched SO MANY cocktails. The Hurricane, the Ramos Gin Fizz, the Vieux Carré- I could go on and on. But for this film, I’ll be drinking perhaps the most iconic NOLA cocktail- the Sazerac.

Sazerac

Absinthe

1 sugar cube

2 ½ oz Cognac or rye whiskey

3 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters

Lemon twist

Rinse an old-fashioned glass with absinthe, discard, then fill the glass with crushed ice. Muddle the sugar cube with a few drops of water in another old-fashioned glass, and add a few large ice cubes.  Add in the cognac or rye, and bitters, and stir gently to combine.  Discard the ice in the first glass, then strain the cocktail into this prepared glass. Add a twist of lemon.

sazerac

Although the concept of reverse aging is something the beauty industry has been chasing for decades, Benjamin Button shows us how futile it all is. Eventually we all end up in diapers. Until then, I plan on making the most of every day that I find myself in the middle, and appreciating this random collision course that we call life. 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 great 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 sentences and vocabulary 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 ’20’s, 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

2oz 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 a few minutes (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!

 

Midnight in Paris

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Midnight in Paris, photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Midnight in Paris, photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

This week is something I’ve been looking forward to since I started Cinema Sips. I hate to play favorites, and obviously I’m still discovering new cocktails while I write this blog, but if I had to chose a favorite drink, it would definitely be the French ’75. Typically I’ve been starting with the movie and finding a drink that I think pairs nicely with it. But in this case, the French ’75 is so special to me that I couldn’t wait for a movie to come along that would inspire me to choose this drink. This week, I searched my DVD (and VHS and Laserdisc!) collections in order to find the best excuse possible to make a French ’75, and I finally settled on one of my favorite films of the past few years, Midnight in Paris.

I was never a huge fan of Woody Allen’s older films (sorry, not even Annie Hall) but I really love his newer works. What I love about Midnight in Paris is that although it’s a completely absurd scenario (a writer travels to Paris with his obnoxious fiance, and while walking the streets at night, finds himself in a time-warp of literary giants) I really root for the characters and want this plot to be a reality. Every night at midnight, this writer (played by Owen Wilson) is transported to his dream era- Paris in the 1920’s. It was the heyday of writers and artists and thinkers, and also a heyday for cocktail drinkers. Coincidence? I think not. He meets F. Scott Fitzgerald and his charming wife Zelda (played brilliantly by Alison Pill), along with Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Man Ray, and Salvador Dali. When I first read about the plot of this movie I thought it sounded absurd; however, Owen Wilson’s wide-eyed, giddy portrayal of the modern writer makes me feel more than excited to go on this journey with him. And while you’re going on this journey, why not enjoy a fabulous gin cocktail?

Over the years, I’ve honed my recipe of the French ’75, and now lucky readers of Cinema Sips get to reap the benefits:

Fitzgerald’s French ’75

1oz dry gin

½ fresh lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

2oz chilled champagne

1 lemon twist

Combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake until cold, then pour into martini glass. Top with champagne and lemon twist.

French-75

I chose Midnight in Paris for my French ’75 pairing first of all because of the film’s Parisian setting, but second of all because it’s widely known that F. Scott Fitzgerald was a heavy gin drinker. This is my very favorite gin cocktail, so what better way to celebrate a literary hero of mine. Also, this drink feels like a cocktail of a bygone era, and like the main character, I dream of being transported back to a time when all of these amazing artists were mingling and creating and making history. By the end of the film, Owen Wilson realizes that everybody has their own unique ideal time and place. I’m lucky that I can truthfully say I’m living in mine right now-  Austin TX circa 2013. But if I ever want to take a vacation (in my mind) to the most fabulous version of Paris, I just have to put on this movie and make sure the gin is cold and the champagne is flowing. Cheers!