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Tag Archives: John Irving

The Cider House Rules

Image credit: The Cider House Rules, 1999

When cider season rolls around, my mind usually drifts to Tobey Maguire learning the apple-picking ropes in this week’s film The Cider House Rules (Disc/Download). If you love cozy New England scenery, precocious orphans, and pro-reproductive rights messaging, then this one’s for you.

In a rare case of the movie being as good as the book it was based on, The Cider House Rules benefits greatly from a screenplay written by the author. I love a story with complex characters, moral dilemmas, and tightly woven plots, so naturally I’m a lifelong fan of John Irving’s work. He finds a way to make controversial subjects accessible and relatable, and this film is no exception. Yes, it covers some tough topics, but still manages to feel like a comfy sweater. Maybe it’s Michael Caine’s homespun Maine accent, or the sprawling ramshackle orphanage, or the shots of Charlize Theron in a wool coat hauling in lobster traps, or our newly crowned Sexiest Man Alive Paul Rudd in a dashing military uniform, but I feel like this movie gives us plenty of sugar to counteract the bitterness of life. And boy is there a lot to be bitter about in Homer’s world, and in ours.

Now, back to the cider. I personally love a dry, crisp variety as I watch the leaves fall outside, or when I put on a slow-jam Erykah Badu record. You could certainly pick a favorite brew to enjoy while you watch this film, but if you want to turn it into a cocktail, let me suggest this Rose’s Rules highball. 

Rose’s Rules

6 oz Dry Cider (I used Texas Keeper No. 1)

1 oz Ginger Liqueur

½ oz Lemon Juice

2 drops Rosewater

Apple Peel garnish

Combine ginger liqueur, lemon juice, and rosewater in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then add cider. Do a gentle roll to mix the ingredients, then strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with an apple peel twisted into a rose.

As you watch Homer Wells embark on his hero’s journey, take note of how he’s a man of principle, yet open to change. He has empathy and heart, which serves him well in any environment, from orphanages to orchards to operating rooms. A true prince of Maine; king of New England. Cheers!

The Door in the Floor

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the-door-in-the-floor

Image credit: The Door in the Floor, 2004

I’d like to give a shout-out to summer beach read season, or what I like to call, “that time of year magazines say it’s acceptable to read the books I actually read all year long.” One book that has found its way to the bottom of my beach bag multiple times is the John Irving classic A Widow for One Year, set in a Long Island seaside hamlet thick with privets and scandals. Although several Irving books have been adapted to the big screen, this one, and its film adaptation The Door in the Floor (DVD/Download), will always be my favorite.

Although this movie only covers the first half of the novel, it does this small bit exceptionally well. With Jeff Bridges as eccentric children’s book author Ted Cole, and Kim Basinger as his damaged wife Marion, the performances in this film are gut-wrenching and powerful. After losing their teenage sons in a tragic car accident, the couple struggle with being parents again to their young daughter Ruth (played by Elle Fanning). Marion starts sleeping with Eddie the intern, Ted continues sleeping with everyone, and little Ruth accepts it all with unnerving maturity. There is sand, there are waves, and there are cedar-shingled mansions. But there are also secrets, monsters, and stories best told in the dark.

For the record, Ted Cole is my hero. The man waltzes around in caftans (even on the squash court!) and a Van Gogh straw hat, just not giving a f*ck. His glass is always full, his barbs always the sharpest, and his squid-ink drawings like something out of a mental hospital. Enjoy this Ted Cole-inspired cocktail while you fantasize about afternoons dozing in an Adirondack chair, and nights drunk-peddling your bicycle home. While watching The Door in the Floor, I recommend drinking an Ink Well.

Ink Well

2 oz Dark Spiced Rum

1 oz Chambord

¾ oz Simple Syrup

¾ oz Fresh lemon juice

½ oz egg white

1 tsp activated charcoal

2-3 dashes Angostura bitters

In a cocktail shaker, add all ingredients except bitters, and give it a dry shake. Add ice, then shake vigorously until egg white is foamy. Strain into a glass, and garnish with bitters.

I have incredibly high hopes that there will one day be a film sequel covering the second half of the book, wherein young Ruth is grown up and experiences the sound of someone trying not to make a sound. Jeff Bridges- you better stick around for that one. It’s a doozy of a story. Cheers!