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Tag Archives: Gin and Tonic

A Single Man

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Image credit: A Single Man, 2009

I don’t know what type of movie Tom Ford might have up his tailored sleeve in the future, but consider this my official RSVP. It’s rare to find a filmmaker who can so expertly merge style with substance, but with this fashion designer-turned-director at the helm, I find myself connecting with the the visuals just as much as the drama. He may have shocked and terrified me (in a good way) with Nocturnal Animals, but he truly made me feel with A Single Man (Disc/Download).

Set in my favorite era (the 1960s), this adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s fantastic novel follows Stanford English professor George Falconer (Colin Firth) over the course of a single day as he grieves his deceased lover Jim (Matthew Goode) and contemplates his own suicide. Through flashbacks, we witness George and Jim’s love story, from meeting in a crowded bar, to buying a beautiful mid-century modern home together, to adopting dogs, and all the way to that horrible call with the news that Jim has been in an automobile accident. Deprived of even the smallest dignity of attending the funeral, George’s life has suddenly lost all meaning, and even a sarcastic, gin-swilling Julianne Moore can’t pull him out of his despair. It takes a brazen student (played by Nicholas Hoult in a fuzzy mohair sweater), a midnight skinny dip in the ocean, and several important revelations to make him realize there may be more in store for him than a lifetime of sadness.

Something I particularly love about this film is its use of color. George’s life looks normal at first, until the first time he feels a strong emotion. Suddenly, it’s as if the celluloid gets dunked in a warm Instagram filter, and the hues burst from the screen. As soon as the memory, or sexual desire, or happiness fades, we go back to the original muted tones, and George’s grief is all the more obvious. I thought about joining Julianne Moore in a few Tanqueray & Tonic’s, but that just doesn’t seem bright enough. Let’s bring this drink into full color with the addition of Blood Orange. While watching A Single Man, I recommend drinking a Sunset Tonic.

Sunset Tonic

2 oz Malfy Con Arancia Gin

1 bottle Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic

Slice of blood orange

Build drink over ice, stirring gently to combine. Garnish with a slice of blood orange.

A Single Man is the kind of movie that stays with you for days after you watch it. Not only does it make you think about the ones you’ve lost, but it makes you contemplate what kind of future you’ll have now that they’re gone. Is it to be one of sadness and longing, or one of moonlight swims and dancing? What would they have wanted for you? It’s a question a lot of us will ask ourselves one day, and maybe Tom Ford just got me a little closer toward the answer. Cheers!

Jules and Jim

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Jules and Jim

Image credit: Jules and Jim, 1962.

Leave it to the French to shock me. Here I was, thinking of polyamory as a concept not fully embraced until the swingin’ ‘70s, but as Jules and Jim (Disc/Download) would suggest, throuples have been around long before Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice; long before that “groundbreaking” episode of House Hunters. Apparently, Paris was a hotbed of free love, even before the Great War.

Directed by Francois Truffaut, Jules and Jim is really about Jules and Jim and Catherine—the free-spirited girl at the center of this complicated love triangle. When we meet them, Jules and Jim are carefree writers who share good times and the occasional woman. But Catherine is something different. Jules stakes a claim early on, even though we can see there’s a strong attraction from Jim as well. She flirts, Jim pines, then Jules marries her and everyone goes off to war. Jules fights on the Austrian side, Jim for the French, and both are afraid of inadvertently killing their best friend on the battlefield. Coming home, Jules settles into an unhappy marriage with Catherine, though both realize something is missing. Eventually, Jim steps in to help right the balance. Despite turbulent times ahead, for a short while in the Black Forest, this throuple is undeniably, unexpectedly happy.

Watching this gorgeous movie at home makes me wish I were instead watching it on the big screen at one of my favorite cinemas, the Austin Film Society* . They have a special gin & tonic on their lobby menu that pairs perfectly with this angsty French love story. While watching Jules and Jim, I recommend drinking the AFS Gin & Tonic.

AFS Gin & Tonic

2 oz Dry Gin

¼ oz Lillet Rose

½ oz Lime Juice

4 oz Elderflower Tonic (I use Fever Tree)

Lime Wheel/Juniper berries for garnish

Combine Gin, Lillet, and lime juice in a shaker filled with ice. Stir to combine and chill, then strain into a glass filled with ice. Top with Elderflower tonic, garnish with lime wheel and juniper berries.

Lillet Gin & Tonic

As with most French New Wave films, lead actress Jeanne Moreau is sexy, cool, funny, and real. Jules and Jim are somewhat forgettable, but Catherine is a woman ahead of her time. This film was made in the 1960s, takes place in 1914-1920s, but feels completely relevant to the 2020s. Let’s touch toes and toast to this unconventional, enduring masterpiece. Cheers!

*If you’re a supporter of indie film, please consider donating to the Austin Film Society so we can all enjoy films and cocktails after the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us.

Stealing Beauty

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stealing beauty

Image credit: Stealing Beauty, 1996.

The votes are in, and it’s official: Stealing Beauty (Disc/Download) is the sexiest movie ever made.  Nobody is more shocked than I, that Bernardo “Pass the Butter” Bertolucci managed to make a film that speaks to the angst of being a woman rather than just a base exploitation of the female body.  As a director, he carries us on a journey of personal and sexual awakening, and believe me—it’s a trip you want to take.

Stealing Beauty features Liv Tyler as Lucy, a nineteen-year-old American vacationing at a Tuscan villa owned by family friends. She’s come to Italy to find her birth father and lose her virginity, though not necessarily in that order.  A testament to the folly of youth, Lucy thinks she wants her first time to be with predatory playboy Niccoló Donati, never realizing that his shy friend Osvaldo is the real catch.  Everyone staying at the villa seems to have an opinion on her love life, making Lucy alternately blush and/or run off into the scrub brush with no shoes.  Repeatedly. When the loss of her virginity finally happens, we’re so keyed up as viewers that it honestly does feel like a release.  The movie is alive with desire and wanting, placing us right there with her in the rolling, sun-warmed hills of Tuscany.

Because most of the villa’s inhabitants are English, and we all know how the Brits love their gin & tonics, I’ll be enjoying something that combines the flavors of Italy and England.  While watching Stealing Beauty, I recommend drinking this Tuscan G&T.

Tuscan G&T

2 ½ oz London dry gin

3 oz Italian dry red wine

½ oz simple syrup

Tonic Water

Orange and lime wheels for garnish

Combine gin, wine, and simple syrup in a shaker with ice.  Shake until chilled, then strain into a glass filled with ice.  Top with tonic water, and garnish with orange and lime.

tuscan g&t

Despite its visual and thematic sensuality, Stealing Beauty isn’t just about sex; it’s about poetry and art and death and above all, life. It’s about being shaken up, to see if you really know yourself inside and out.  And of course, it’s about finding joy, whether it’s tits out in a sculpture garden, or diving for sunken treasure in the pool. Cheers!

A Summer Place

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Image Credit Warner Bros, 1959, A Summer Place

Image Credit Warner Bros, 1959, A Summer Place

True confession: I’m a sucker for any movie with Sandra Dee in an A-line dress. I’m also a sucker for melodramatic movies of the 1950’s, the type that would have been playing at a drive-in movie theater. This week’s Cinema Sips pick, A Summer Place (DVD) fulfills both criteria. I must have caught this movie on AMC back in high school (when they actually showed classic films) and from the moment I laid eyes on Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue as two star-crossed teenage lovers, I was hooked. Throw in cardigan sweaters and preppy boat shoes, and well, we may as well just call this a perfect movie.

A Summer Place is about two teens who find themselves together on an exclusive New England resort called Pine Island for the summer. Troy Donahue plays the son of the innkeeper, and Sandra Dee is the daughter of a family that comes to stay. As it turns out, Sandra Dee’s father (played by Richard Egan) used to be involved with Troy Donahue’s mother (played by Dorothy McGuire) when he was the lifeguard there as a teenager, and even though each married other people, they never forgot each other. As you can guess, romance rekindles between the parents as it blossoms among their children. The writers of this film’s script make the ensuing adultery pretty convenient, since she’s married to an alcoholic and he’s married to a racist. OF COURSE they’d have affairs. Admittedly, it’s a soap opera, complete with wonderfully melodramatic music, kooky supporting characters, and hysterical overacting. But the scenes of ocean waves crashing against craggily rocks, afternoon sailing, and a cocktail hour where everyone dresses up make me swoon. It’s what summer should be.

This film was an easy choice for Cinema Sips because it features some great drunk scene-stealing by actor Arthur Kennedy. He tells it like it is, even when “it” happens to be that his wife is sleeping with her former lover again. He’s an alcoholic for sure, but a dignified alcoholic. None of those bar fights or crying meltdowns that movie alcoholics are traditionally known for. So in his honor, I’m mixing up a great standby WASPy summer drink- a Pine Island Gin & Tonic.

Pine Island Gin & Tonic

1.5 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin

3 oz Fever Tree tonic water

Lime wedge

Sprig of Rosemary for garnish

Build ingredients in a tumbler full of ice. Squeeze a bit of the lime juice into the glass, stir, and garnish with rosemary and lime wedge.

Pine-Island-Gin-and-Tonic

I’m adding a sprig of rosemary to this because it mirrors the pine trees surrounding the inn. And it fancies up a drink that, admittedly, is pretty simple. But in summertime, when it’s hot out, this is the drink that I make more often than anything else. It’s easy, delicious, and really hits the spot. Be sure to use the best ingredients though, because when you’ve got a simple drink, it’s abundantly clear when you’ve skimped on quality. I like to fix one of these and imagine I’m sitting at Richard Egan’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home bar, as I listen to the ocean waves crashing and watch Troy Donahue stroll down the beach in his short shorts and cardigan sweater.   Très jolie, as the French would say. Très, très jolie. Cheers!