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Tag Archives: Kevin Spacey

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!

 

L.A. Confidential

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la-confidential-1997-russell-crowe-kim-basinger-pic-1

Image Credit Warner Bros. 1997, L.A. Confidential

 

Gangsters and high-class hookers. 1950’s movie stars. Glamorous fashions. Russell Crowe when he was young and thin. That’s right, I’m talking about L.A .Confidential (DVD/Download). This 1997 film based on a James Ellroy novel and directed by Curtis Hanson is one of my all-time favorites, and an absolutely perfect movie to pair with a cocktail. I remember when this film came out, and after seeing it for the first time, I knew I had just experienced movie greatness, but I was still thoroughly confused. L.A. Confidential deserves and needs your undivided attention, so put down the iphones and laptops, and make your cocktail before you press play because the plot has more twists and turns than a street in the Hollywood Hills.

L.A. Confidential centers on three cops in the LAPD who find their cases intersecting in one riveting vice/homicide mash-up. Guy Pearce plays bookish detective Edmund Exley, Russell Crowe plays the heavy-handed goon/good guy Bud White, and Kevin Spacey is the fun-loving Jack Vincennes who stumbles onto a vice case that was more than he bargained for. I love the way the script weaves back and forth between their cases, until eventually they are knotted together. I often rave about this film, saying that it is sheer perfection- the acting, the screenplay, the music, the costumes, the sets, everything. Even Kim Basinger turns in a great performance as Lynn Bracken, the hooker dolled up to look like Veronica Lake. I love movies that reference classic cinema, and it’s a great deal of fun to play along as we see hookers cut to look like Lake, Ginger Rogers, and Rita Hayworth. Of course one of the best scenes comes at the hands of Vincennes and Exley interrogating Lana Turner and Johnny Stompanato. I laugh every time because it’s one of the rare comedic moments in this pulpy noir film (outside of any scene with Danny DeVito of course).

For my cocktail this week, I’m serving up a drink that would have been fashionable around the time this movie takes place. It was popularized by Raymond Chandler, another noir writer, though I’m making it a little differently than he would have. In The Long Goodbye, he called for simply “half gin and half Rose’s lime juice,” but I like to add a little simple syrup to my gimlet. After all, Bud White is a sweetie at heart!

White Gimlet

2 oz gin

½ oz Lime Juice

½ oz simple syrup

Lime wedge for garnish

Mix gin, lime juice, and simple syrup together in a cocktail shaker over ice. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with lime.

White Gimlet

 

Enjoy this drink and pretend you’re Lynn Bracken entertaining either Russell Crowe or Guy Pearce in her glamorous Art Deco bungalow, or perhaps you’d rather be sipping it at the Brown Derby. This film makes me so nostalgic for the glamour of Tinseltown, because even when they’re crawling around looking for dead bodies or roughing up a gangster at an abandoned motel, these cops still call each other by their full names and wear hats. It was civilized back then! So enjoy L.A.Confidential as you sip your gimlet, and try not to get so drunk that you end up whispering Rollo Tomasi in your husband’s ear for the millionth time while he tries not to become annoyed with you (not that I’m speaking from experience, *wink*). Cheers!