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John Wick

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John Wick

Image credit: John Wick, 2014

I did the unthinkable recently when I sat down to watch all three John Wick movies, back-to-back. Six hours of Keanu Reeves, guns, and dogs. Of course I was drunk for this. If you’ve been on the fence about watching this franchise, I’m here to tell you… it’s not that bad.

I resisted these movies for a long time because I didn’t think I could watch a constant stream of bullets flying, bodies falling down like dominoes, and the visual illustration that human lives are expendable. The thing that finally sold me was Keanu. He’s the epitome of Hollywood action star, with his brooding looks and expensive suits. The plots get wilder with each installment, but at their essence they’re all about revenge. Whether it’s John Wick getting revenge on the people who killed his dog and stole his beloved car, or other people getting revenge for the ones Wick has killed, nobody can let anything go. It’s all very black-and-white, which makes the bold cinematography even more impressive. These gunfights could have taken place in an empty parking lot and people still would have watched. But by setting them in a hall of mirrors, or a glass box full of other glass boxes, I want to watch.

As I’ve said, there is a very unfortunate doggie death setting the whole chain of events in motion. It’s brutal. But Keanu does a truly heroic thing at the end of the first film by adopting a shelter dog. Sure, he kind of abandons it in the next two films, but I suppose waiting in a taxi or hotel is preferable to waiting around in a cage at the pound. While watching John Wick, I recommend drinking this Rescue Dog cocktail.

Rescue Dog

1.5 oz Grapefruit Vodka (I like Frankly Organic Vodka)

.5 oz Aperol

.5 oz Lime Juice

3 dashes Grapefruit Bitters

2 oz Sparkling Wine

Combine Vodka, Aperol, and lime juice, and bitters in a shaker with ice.  Shake until chilled, then strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with sparkling wine and stir gently.

As far as I can tell, John is not a big drinker. But he does spend an awful lot of time in dark nightclubs, so the cocktail culture is definitely there. I encourage you to watch these with a drink (or several), and remember- adopt don’t shop. Cheers!

Pillow Talk

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Image Credit: Universal Pictures 1959

Image Credit: Universal Pictures 1959

This is one of those weeks where the drink I want to make is the main influence for my movie selection. Today, I really wanted to use the new Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka that I bought myself as a Christmas present, plus I had a great mock-tail recipe I wanted to convert into a cocktail. Because the drink is pink-hued and sweetened with honey, I immediately thought of Pillow Talk. This is one of my all-time favorite films, and it made me a lifelong lover of all things Doris Day. I love her Manhattan apartment with its pink walls and pink countertops, her fun little hats, and the way she’s a smart, sophisticated, career-oriented woman during a time period when that was not really the norm. Doris Day did a number of working-gal romantic comedies during the late 1950’s-early 1960’s, but this one is by far the best.

In Pillow Talk, Doris Day plays Jan Morrow, an interior decorator who shares a party line with Rock Hudson’s character Brad Allen. For those youngsters who aren’t familiar, a party line was a phone line you shared with a total stranger. Brad Allen is a playboy musician who spends most of his time romancing women over the phone, and Jan can’t get any business calls through. They argue with each other over the phone, but then by chance Brad sees Jan in real life, falls head over heels, and disguises himself as Rex Stetson, the Texas-twang-voiced cowboy with a penchant for dip recipes and calling women “ma’am”. Jan falls for him, not knowing his true identity, and well, you can probably figure out the rest. I love Day’s intelligent pluckiness, and the chemistry between her and Rock Hudson is electric. Tony Randall also turns in a hilarious performance as Jan’s lovesick client (a pre-Niles Crane study in effeminate straight male characters) and let’s not forget Thelma Ritter as Jan’s boozy maid Alma.

For my drink, I’ll be using Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka, which is a great mixer, or just fine on its own with a little lime over ice. I came across a wonderful non-alcoholic mixed drink on TheKitchn blog which I posted on the Cinema Sips Facebook page a week ago, and it got such a good response that I felt inspired to use it here. I’m keeping most of the recipe the same, but tossing in a shot of grapefruit vodka to up the ante. Note, this recipe produces enough syrup for several servings of this drink, so either invite friends to drink with you, or refrigerate the leftovers. In celebration of Rex Stetson’s charming colloquial sayings, I call this one the Honey Lamb.

Honey Lamb

Zest of 1 large pink grapefruit

1 cup freshly-squeezed pink grapefruit juice

¾ cup mild-flavored honey

1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger

Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka

Carbonated water (I used grapefruit-flavored water)

Combine the grapefruit zest, juice, honey, and ginger in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring to dissolve the honey.

Remove from heat and let cool. Strain the syrup through a sieve into a clean container and discard the solids.

Put 2 tablespoons of the grapefruit syrup into a collins glass filled with ice. Add a shot of grapefruit vodka. Top with carbonated water and stir lightly.

Honey Lamb

Feel free to invite some of your non-imbibing friends to your viewing party and just leave out the vodka. I promise, even people that aren’t really into classic cinema will love this film. Doris Day’s fashions alone are enough to make me swoon, and that’s even before dreamy Rock Hudson makes his appearance on screen. Just for fun, I suggest taking a drink every time he plays the “You Are My Inspiration” song. Warning- if your drink does contain vodka, you may want to take a lesson from Alma and stay out of fast-moving elevators tomorrow. Cheers!

(Note:  The cute straws in my drinks can be found here)