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Top 5 Movie Bars (public)

In honor of Cinema Sips’ one year anniversary, I’m launching a new feature- Top 5 Lists! Inspired by John Cusack’s “Top 5” picks in High Fidelity, these lists are by no means scientific and totally based on personal opinion.

To kick things off, this week I’m highlighting my Top 5 Movie Bars that are open to the public (we’ll get to private home bars in movies another week).

To all my readers who have found me over the last 12 months, thank you so much for following this blog.  I’ll keep drinking, watching, and writing if you keep reading!

1) Hollywood Star Lanes bar, The Big Lebowski

big lebowski alley bar

White Russians, Sam Elliott, and the Dude. Bar wisdom: “Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear, well, he eats you.” Wait, what??


2) The Overlook Hotel Bar, The Shining


OK maybe this one skirts the line at being “public” since it’s pretty much just Jack Nicholson and a creepy bartender, but hey- sometimes a man needs solitude. I’m in love with the weird lighting, tin ceilings, and ghosts of guests past.


3) The Park Hyatt Tokyo Bar, Lost in Translation

lost in translation bar

It looks like they make a mean vodka tonic. And they have a delightful house band called Sausalito. And Bill Murray hangs out there. Does it get any better?


4) The Double Deuce, Roadhouse

double deuce

Two words:  Patrick.  Swayze.


5)  The Winchester, Shaun of the Dead

the winchester

While I’m sure a cocktail would be hard to come by in this beer-centric pub, I give major props for pub snacks and Queen on the jukebox. If a zombie apocalypse were to descend on my city, you’d better believe I’d be headed to a bar. Snacks, alcohol, and Freddie Mercury- what more do you need?


*Honorable mention: Rick’s Café Americain in Casablanca. My personal distaste for African desert climates and Nazis kept it out of the top 5, but those cocktails and piano music are swoon-worthy.

Lost in Translation

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'Lost in Translation' Movie Stills

This week’s selection was a bit of a challenge. In my opinion, a blog on cocktail and movie pairings wouldn’t be complete without Sofia Coppola’s 2003 masterpiece Lost in Translation. Set in Tokyo, this unexpected love story features Bill Murray in one of his finest roles, playing an American movie star sent to Japan to endorse a whiskey. While there, he meets Scarlett Johansson’s character Charlotte, a fellow American and malcontent. They share a drink at a swanky hotel bar, and spend the rest of the movie exploring Tokyo and maybe possibly falling in love.

The reason I say that this selection was challenging is because I personally am not a frequent whiskey drinker. I skew more toward gin and vodka concoctions, which for this movie seems all wrong. Bill Murray does a fantastic job of selling us on Suntory whiskey, and by the end of the film I want to drink a glass on the rocks and do goofy impersonations of the Rat Pack, just like him. So here’s what I suggest. If you like whiskey, buy this movie and a bottle of Suntory’s Hibiki blended single-malt, drink a glass or two and imagine you’re as cool as Bill Murray.

However, for the non-whiskey drinkers of the world, I’ve come up with a cocktail that I personally enjoy and that also stays true to the spirit of the film- The Whiskey Amour.

Whiskey Amour

2oz bourbon

1oz fresh grapefruit juice

1oz honey syrup (boil one part water and one part honey)

Grapefruit twist for garnish

Combine all the liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into glass, garnish with grapefruit twist.


This drink is basically a Brown Derby, but I like to sweeten it a bit by adding more honey syrup than is typically called for. In relation to the film, it works on several levels. I’m using an American whiskey as a nod to the two American protagonists. The pink hue of the grapefruit juice references the opening scene of the film, and the honey references the music over the final scene of the film. This cocktail is to be enjoyed while you’re marveling at the amazing shots of Tokyo, and yearning for Charlotte to leave her hipster husband and run into Mr. Bob Harris’ arms. Drink enough and you may be tempted to sing along during the karaoke scene. Drink too much and you’ll be singing along with Sausalito.

What this week has taught me is that sometimes life surprises you. Whether it’s a May-December romance in Tokyo or a bourbon cocktail in your living room, the best experiences are often the ones you never saw coming. Cheers!