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High Fidelity

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High Fidelity

Image credit: High Fidelity, 2000

True story- the one and only time I’ve ever been carded and turned away from a movie was High Fidelity (DVD/Download) in April 2000. I was 16 years old, a recent transplant to Central Pennsylvania, and stunned to find myself smack dab in the Bible Belt. For months afterward, I waited impatiently to see what erotic, taboo tales awaited me in the R-rated and undoubtedly-risque High Fidelity.  Imagine my surprise and outrage that not only was there nothing “R” about it, but also that I was unnecessarily delayed from seeing what would become one of my all-time favorite films.

My Top 5 lists on Cinema Sips are a direct homage to this comedic gem, so in lieu of a proper plot description I think it’s more appropriate to list off my Top 5 High Fidelity Scenes:

  1. When John Cusack plays the new Beta Band LP in his niche Chicago record shop, causing all the customers fall under its spell. Perfect music moment.
  1. Lisa Bonet sings “Baby I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton. I too, always hated that song. And now I too, kinda like it.
  1. Jack Black berating a customer for wanting to buy a copy of Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You”. In answer to his subquestion, it is definitely better to burn out than to fade away.
  1. The making of a Top 5 List of songs about death. This is absolutely a conversation I want to be a part of.
  1. Barry Jive and the Uptown Five singing “Let’s Get it On”. And just like that, Jack Black the Movie Star was born.

Although the Nick Hornby novel this film was based on is set in London, I love the decision to set the movie adaptation in Chicago. The city itself becomes like another character in the film, so to that end we should definitely celebrate this midwestern metropolis with its namesake drink. While watching High Fidelity, I recommend drinking a classic Chicago Cocktail.

Chicago Cocktail

2 oz Brandy

Dash of Triple Sec

Dash of Bitters

1 oz Champagne

Stir Brandy, Triple Sec, and Bitters together in a shaker filled with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe, and top with champagne.

If you happen to find yourself celebrating Record Store Day later this month, don’t be too put off by the employees at your local vinyl shop. They actually do know a lot about music, so let them make suggestions. They may not be able to give relationship advice, but if you’re looking to find a band that picks up where Echo and the Bunnymen left off, they’ve got your back. Cheers!

Say Anything

say anything

Image credit: Say Anything, 1989

 

This past week I had the pleasure of celebrating Valentine’s Day a little early at my local drive-in movie theater with a screening of Say Anything (DVD/Download). Without being tacky, I’ll just say that this movie is best watched from the backseat. It’s not really a movie that celebrates cocktails in any way, but it DOES feature one of the greatest romantic leads in cinematic history, Lloyd Dobbler.

What can be said about Lloyd Dobbler that hasn’t already been shouted from the rooftops by every teenage girl? As Lloyd, John Cusack is a guy so great that he could only ever exist in the movies. I feel almost bad for him that he’s lovesick over Diane Court “whoa”, a smart, pretty girl who will never truly appreciate what she has (he gave her his heart and she gave him a pen.  I rest my case).  This is a guy who will stand outside your house with a boombox blasting Peter Gabriel, with no hint of embarrassment. This is a guy who will not comment on the fact that you are WAY overdressed for a high school keg party, then end the night by being a dependable designated driver.  Who is this guy? He’s Lloyd Dobbler. And goddamn it he doesn’t want to sell, buy, or process anything.

Lurking over the love story of Lloyd and Diane (besides her father’s IRS troubles) is brainy Diane’s eventual move to England on a scholastic fellowship. Lloyd, being a well-travelled army brat, offers to give her tips- English tips (whatever that means). I’m assuming those tips would include the knowledge that Pimm’s No. 1 is an amazing British liquor export and should be drunk whenever possible. Plus, for a Valentine’s Day cocktail, you can’t get much more festive than this one. While watching Say Anything, I recommend drinking a Pimm’s Royale.

Pimm’s Royale

1.5 oz Pimm’s No. 1

4 oz pink champagne

Strawberry for garnish

Pour Pimms into a champagne flute, then top with champagne. Garnish with a strawberry.

Pimms Royale

Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, Say Anything features amazingly astute dialogue, great music, and above all, teen angst. To me, it’s his greatest achievement as a filmmaker, and Lloyd his greatest character. Sometimes, it just takes the simple courage to pick up a phone and call the girl up. Lloyd gives us all hope. Cheers!

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

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Image credit:  Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Warner Bros, 1997

Image credit: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Warner Bros, 1997

I got inspired this week when my brother-in-law sent me a clipping on southern cocktails from Garden & Gun magazine. Yes, you read that right, such a magazine actually exists. I could think of no better film to celebrate guns, gardens, southern society, and cocktails, than Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (DVD/Download). This was one of my favorite movies of the 1990’s, and it still holds up well today. It paints Savannah as a mythical place full of people who drink at all hours of the day, sassy drag queens, and gun-toting antiques dealers. I’d say I’m eager to catch a plane there, but who am I kidding- I live in Austin! We’re practically twin cities.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is based on the bestselling non-fiction book of the same name by John Berendt. In it, he chronicles the trial of a wealthy member of Savannah society who is accused of murdering his gay lover. Kevin Spacey plays the antiques dealer/bon vivant on trial, and Jude Law has a few brief scenes as his victim/lover. This film was a great place for Kevin Spacey to hone his eventual House of Cards accent, which he does to perfection. Not so great in the accent dept. is Jude Law, who does a sort of cockney/southern hybrid, but I’m willing to overlook it because he’s young and gorgeous (albeit in a redneck-psycho sort of way). The true star of this film (and the book) is of course The Lady Chablis. Can I just say, this is maybe the best drag name I’ve ever heard. I love that the character was played by the real life Chablis Deveau because really, who else could possibly do this part justice? She steals every scene she’s in, delivering one-liners that keep me laughing for days. And I love John Cusack as the fish out of water reporter who stumbles into this world of, as he puts it, “Gone With the Wind on mescaline.” Gardens and guns- Savannah in a nutshell.

As I have said, this film is excellent with a cocktail pairing because most of the characters treat drinking like a competitive sport. As one person says, “If you’re thirsty, a drink will cure it. If you’re not, a drink will prevent it. Prevention is better than a cure.” My favorite cocktail of those featured in the magazine article is definitely the Antebellum Julep, conceived by bartender Alba Huerta. I’m not a frequent bourbon drinker, but I do like a cold, minty concoction on an unbearably hot day. This drink solves both of those problems at once with a refreshing combination of rum, cognac, and LOTS of ice. When watching this film, I recommend drinking an Antebellum Julep.

8-10 mint leaves, roughly torn

2 tsp simple syrup

2 oz cognac

1/2 oz dark rum

Mint Sprig

Powdered Sugar

In a cup (a metal julep cup is great if you have it, but I’m going even more southern and using a mason jar), muddle mint leaves and simple syrup. Pour in cognac, to rinse off muddler; remove muddler. Fill the cup ¾ full with crushed ice and stir with a bar spoon. Add a small dome of crushed ice, and pour the rum over the top. Garnish with a mint sprig and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Antebellem Julep

This drink is so refreshing that it might be my summer go-to when the temperature spikes above 100. It’ll always make me think of Spanish moss, long languorous afternoons that stretch into warm, humid nights, and genteel southerners with secrets for miles. As you watch Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, concern yourself less with whether or not Kevin Spacey is guilty, and more with the eccentric group of people that populate Savannah. In this instance, the truth is definitely stranger than fiction. Cheers!