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La La Land

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La La Land

Image credit: La La Land, 2016

There are some things in life that you just never get over. Your first birds-and-bees talk. The cancellation of My So-Called Life after only one season. And new in 2017- the snub heard round the world, La La Land losing the Academy Award for Best Picture. Faye and Warren tried to cover for the Academy’s oversight, to no avail. It was too late. Somebody put Moonlight on that card and dashed the hopes of all the fools who dream. A year and a half later, I’m still not over it. Time to drink.

To say I love La La Land (DVD/Download) would be a gross understatement. This film encompasses everything I adore about classic movie musicals, a period of cinema when actors (not necessarily singers) were cast in these roles, and directors cared about things like mise en scene and appropriate song transitions. In using Los Angeles as a backdrop for the story of two struggling artists falling in love and struggling to make it in Hollywood, La La Land is able to take advantage of classic movie backdrops we all know and love. The Griffith Observatory; the Sunset Strip; a swanky home in the Hollywood Hills- all become touchstones within this saturated ode to moving pictures. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone make me laugh and cry with their performances, but it’s Los Angeles that makes me dream.

As a struggling jazz musician, Ryan Gosling spends a lot of time in windowless underground martini bars. Bonjour, heaven!  I love the cocktail culture that goes hand-in-hand with this music, so this week I’m using a recipe from one of my new favorite books, Booze & Vinyl by André and Tenaya Darlington.  Their cocktail accompaniment for Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, this martini-relative also pairs well with “City of Stars”.  While watching La La Land, I recommend drinking a Martinez.

Martinez

2 oz Old Tom Gin

1 oz sweet vermouth

1 tsp Maraschino liqueur

2 dashes orange bitters

Lemon twist, for garnish

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, and stir until combined.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Martinez

I think La La Land means so much to me because I really see myself in these characters.   Like them, I have dreams that have yet to be realized.  And even when that door seems like it’ll never open, and my fist gets sore from banging on it with all my strength, I still have to smile and say I’d do it all again. Because that’s what dreamers do. Cheers!

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Some Like it Hot

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Image credit MGM 1959

Image credit MGM 1959

What do you get when you cross two burly jazz musicians in drag, a blonde ukulele-playing starlet, a hot water bottle full of whiskey, and a room full of tommy-gun toting gangsters? A heck of a good time, that’s what. This week’s film selection is the 1959 Billy Wilder classic  Some Like it Hot. Set against the backdrop of the roaring 20’s, this film features Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as two Chicago jazz musicians down on their luck and on the run from the mob. They hear of a female band in need of new members, so these two bosom buddies trade in their overcoats for dresses and wigs, and hop a train to Florida. On board, they meet Marilyn Monroe’s character Sugar Kane, and the rest of Sweet Sue’s Society Syncopators. These ladies like to party, and pretty soon the drunken shenanigans are off and running.

Probably my favorite scene in the film is one that lends itself well to this week’s cocktail selection. During the train ride down to Florida, Sugar Kane gets the party started in Jack Lemmon (aka Daphne)’s bunk. He provides the whiskey, she chips some ice off an ENORMOUS block (did all trains carry polar ice down to Florida back then?), and pretty soon the rest of the Syncopators have gathered in his bunk with a bottle of Vermouth and a pretty ingenious hot water bottle/cocktail shaker-thing. Manhattans are served in Dixie cups, and someone manages to produce some Saltine crackers (I don’t think I want to know from where). It becomes kind of a naughty sorority party, with Jack Lemmon in the center as the ugliest sorority sister I have ever seen.  Zowie!

While I’m watching this scene, of course all I want is a Manhattan so I can join in the party too. While I’ve typically posted cutesy variations on classic cocktails thus far, this week I’m going with something more traditional since this is such a classic comedic film. This week’s cocktail: The Classic Manhattan.

Classic Manhattan

2 oz Bourbon Whiskey

1 oz Sweet Vermouth

2 dashes Angostura bitters

1 maraschino cherry

Combine the rye, vermouth, and bitters in a mixing glass, fill with ice, and stir until cold. Strain into a chilled glass, garnish with the cherry or orange twist.

classic-manhattan

If you’re like me, one of these is all you need for sipping during the movie. But of course it’s more fun to invite some friends over, make a big batch, and laugh at Tony Curtis’ faux-Cary Grant accent midway through the film together. This is truly a film that encourages celebrating music, friendship, cocktails and womanhood. And if you’re not a woman, well, nobody’s perfect. Cheers!