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The Days of Wine and Roses

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Days of Wine and Roses

Image credit: The Days of Wine and Roses, 1962.

I’ve spent a lot of time watching rom-coms and writing books with that all-important Happily Ever After, but this February, I’m planning a deep dive into the tragic romance genre. I want to celebrate those tear-jerker movies that leave you gutted, but nevertheless believing in the all-consuming power of love. This week, I’m subjecting myself to a serious punch to the face by watching The Days of Wine and Roses (Disc/Download).

I’ll be honest, when I hit play on this film, I was expecting something much different than what I got. I thought Blake Edwards + Henry Mancini + Jack Lemmon = a romantic comedy with great music and fabulous party scenes. Well, I got the music, parties, and romance, but there’s nothing funny about this movie about two alcoholics struggling to get sober. Like Reefer Madness before it, and Leaving Las Vegas decades after, this is a film that will make you want to give up all your vices and just stay home with a glass of water. It strays a little too far into propaganda-territory for Alcoholics Anonymous, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a powerful film about loving someone who can’t love themselves. Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick give powerhouse performances as a doomed husband and wife who fall on and off the wagon multiple times, and when each subsequent fall is from a greater height, you start to really ache for them. You hope that their love is enough to help them through this, but eventually, it becomes clear—it might not be.

When the film begins, Lee Remick is a teetotaler, until she meets the sweet, drunken charmer Jack Lemmon and his Brandy Alexander‘s. One sip, and it’s all downhill. You could certainly enjoy that cocktail with her, but this film is also a great excuse to use rosewater. Especially when Jack Lemmon is tearing through a greenhouse looking for the bottle he stashed in a plant. It’s so moving, you can almost smell the soil, roses, and bitter stench of cheap booze. While watching The Days of Wine and Roses, I recommend this Wilted Rose Martini. (But seriously- just one, dear reader.)

Wilted Rose Martini

2 ½ oz Lemon Vodka

½ oz Elderflower Liqueur

½ oz Lemon Juice

½ oz simple syrup

3 drops Rosewater

Lemon Twist

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Wilted Rose Martini

I count my lucky stars that I’m able to have only one or two cocktails and call it a night. I know how slippery that slope is for many people, and this film gives me empathy for their struggle. The ending is ambiguous, and we don’t know if either of these people will ever stay clean. But I have hope that they do—I believe in love, and I believe that people can conquer their demons.  Maybe there’s a Happily Ever After still to come. Cheers!

Top Five Oscar Party Ideas- 2018 edition

Oscar is turning 90 this year, we’ve just witnessed an incredible year of films and I, for one, am ready to celebrate!  Here are my top five suggestions to make this year’s party the best one yet.  Cheers!

1. Gold drinkware

Flutes, highballs, stemless wine glasses- go crazy! It’s Oscar night!

 

2.  Red Felt Coasters

Give your drink the red carpet treatment.

 

3. Deviled Egg Tray

Share an egg with a friend, a la The Shape of Water.

 

4. Henry Mancini- The Classic Soundtrack Collection

You know why The Party is still the coolest movie about a party that was ever made? Henry Mancini.

 

5. Peach gummy candy

Make your guests blush with this Call Me By Your Name-inspired snack.

 

And what will I be drinking on Oscar night?  I plan on toasting Call Me By Your Name with this sparkling peach cocktail.  Saluti!

la pesca

La Pesca

1 oz Peach Liqueur

1/2 oz Orgeat syrup

2-3 dashes Grapefruit Bitters

Prosecco

Combine peach liqueur, orgeat, and bitters in a chilled flute.  Stir gently, then top with prosecco.

The Party

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Image credit The Mirisch Corp., The Party, 1968

Image credit The Mirisch Corp., The Party, 1968

I can’t believe it’s been 7 months of Cinema Sips greatness, and I have yet to discuss the ultimate cocktail movie, the one that made me want to do this blog in the first place. This week, I am beyond excited to feature one of my top favorites, and certainly my absolute favorite film to screen during any cocktail-fueled gathering– The Party (DVD). Truly, this is a great movie to have playing in the background of any party because the physical humor and gorgeous sets mean you don’t necessarily need sound to appreciate it. You would be missing out on Peter Sellers’ nuanced performance and a delicious score by Henry Mancini, but you would still have all of your party guests wondering what this fabulous movie is.

This 1968 Blake Edwards classic stars comedy genius Peter Sellers as the bumbling Hrundi V. Bakshi, an Indian actor who accidentally gets invited to a dinner party at a Hollywood producer’s home. He arrives, loses his shoe, mingles with movie stars, spills bird seed everywhere, sticks his hand in caviar, and gets a chicken caught on a woman’s tiara. And that’s just in the first half! There are a lot of sight gags involving the ultra-modern home set, such as people falling in the water feature that runs through the house, guests getting burned by the indoor fire pit, and floors and walls disappearing at the flick of a switch. It’s a ridiculously impractical home, but if I had a million dollars I would build it for myself in a second. The sets and costumes truly capture that 60’s Mod era in a way that Mad Men could only dream of. Beyond that, Peter Sellers is adorable and funny in a pre-Mr. Bean, fish-out-of-water role that only he could pull off, and his love interest played by Claudine Longet is French perfection. Zou-bisou-bisou indeed!

What makes this movie such a great fit for Cinema Sips is the plentiful alcohol that is poured and consumed on-screen for a solid hour and a half. A drunken waiter offering vodka and scotch; Peter Sellers refusing alcohol then getting wine poured all over his hand anyway; Hollywood power players sipping cocktails at the retro bar- it’s a classic cocktail lover’s paradise. Playing off the mix of cultures at this party, I’m crafting a drink with international flavors. While watching The Party, I recommend drinking a Howdy Part-en-er.

Howdy Part-en-er

1.5 oz vodka

1 oz unsweetened jasmine green tea, chilled

½ oz St. Germain Elderflower liqueur

½ oz lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in a shaker over ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass, and enjoy!

Howdy Partener

Once Hrundi gives in and actually has a drink, The Party becomes a wild, nutty ride featuring an elephant, a Russian ballet troupe, and a house full of bubbles. Perhaps you’ve thrown a party or attended one that evolved into something crazier and crazier as the night went on, ending only when the sun comes up. If not, watching this movie makes you feel like you have. I’m sure in real life I would be the neurotic hostess fretting about her hair getting wet while her house is being destroyed, but when I watch this I like to pretend I’m the loopy, drunk actress who sees imaginary things in the bottom of her cocktail glass. After a couple of these vodka-green tea concoctions, I might not be too far off. Cheers!