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McCabe & Mrs. Miller

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Image credit: McCabe & Mrs. Miller, 1971

How do you make a Western that a pink-loving, romance-obsessed millennial female like me will actually enjoy? Easy.

  1. Fill it with gorgeous Leonard Cohen songs.
  2. Cast two of the most beautiful humans alive in 1971: Warren Beatty and Julie Christie.
  3. Make bath time fun again.
  4. Tell the costume department to invest in a really big fur coat. I’m talking massive. Make him look like a very fancy bear.

This week on Cinema Sips, I’m featuring the Robert Altman classic, McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Disc/Download). You won’t find a lot of Westerns on Cinema Sips because I’ve never been a fan of dust and dirt and long, lonely vistas; however, there’s something about McCabe & Mrs. Miller that hooks me. The modern music is certainly part of it, but I think it’s also the way ordinary realities are depicted. The characters speak like normal people, instead of holdovers from the Victorian era. They talk about real issues, like same-sex attraction, and menstruation, and what it is that humans really want on the edge of a barren frontier. It’s not sex and it’s not religion (despite the proliferation of brothels and churches); it’s comfort. In many cases, power.

I’m going to warn you, McCabe has truly heinous cocktail preferences. He enjoys a double whiskey with a raw egg, and frankly, seeing that yolk drop into the glass makes me want to vomit. Let’s make a tastier egg-white version instead, adding a little marmalade in honor of Mrs. Miller’s cockney roots. While watching McCabe & Mrs. Miller, I recommend drinking a Marmalade Whiskey Sour.

Marmalade Whiskey Sour

2 oz Bourbon

1 oz Lemon Juice

½ oz Simple Syrup

½ oz Orange Marmalade

1 egg white

Combine ingredients in a shaker without ice first. Shake vigorously for thirty seconds, then add ice. Shake for another thirty seconds until chilled and frothy. Strain into a glass filled with fresh ice.

I’ll have to remember this movie when I’m sweltering through a Texas summer because one look at the snow-covered mining town makes the room feel ten degrees cooler. But even when the snow is falling outside, and the wind is howling, it’s still fun to snuggle up under a furry blanket, pour a drink, and contemplate whether any Western hero was ever as cool as John McCabe, before or since. Certainly, he was the best-dressed. Cheers!