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The Godfather

The Godfather

Image credit: The Godfather, 1972

This week is Thanksgiving, and I don’t know about y’all, but I am ready to eat, drink, and watch movies. Sure, we’ll come together with loved ones and enjoy some mashed potatoes and stuffing, but post-meal is where the real magic happens. Because that’s when you settle in with a good film. If you’re smart, you’ll choose something that celebrates, eating, drinking, and above all, la famiglia. This Thanksgiving, I’ll be watching The Godfather (DVD/Download).

I’m not going to rehash the plot of The Godfather because really, it’s been almost 50 years, and if you don’t already know that this is a movie about a large mafia crime family, heaven help you. What I will say, however, is that as a fan of late 60’s/early 70’s cinema, this film encompasses so much of what I love about the era. You have the faded Hollywood icon in the form of Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone contrasting with the brash, exciting newcomer Al Pacino as Michael Corleone.  Then there are the 1940’s period sets that still feel a bit like 70’s gritty NYC, and Francis Ford Coppola’s blend of cinema verite mixed with grandiose storytelling. You see the wine and the red sauce and the piles of wedding cake that scream ITALIAN, but also the quiet, subtle moments that pull the viewer in and make you feel the story.  Hollywood was still figuring out what it wanted to be when this film was made, and The Godfather said it loud and clear- the old studio system was dead, long live the auteur.

If you find yourself cooking for a large crowd on T-Day, you may just want to keep things simple and enjoy a nice bottle of red wine with this film (Sicilian or Southern Italian-origin would be my choice for authenticity’s sake). But if you want to go a little further, pick up a bottle of Sambuca and digest your dinner like the Corleones. While watching The Godfather, I recommend drinking The Closer.

The Closer

1 oz White Sambuca

1 oz Coffee liqueur

1 oz half-and-half

Star Anise for garnish

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker, blend well, then strain into a glass with a large ice cube.  Garnish with star anise.  

I’ve set the ambitious goal of watching ALL THREE Godfather films in one day, breaking only for more drinks and dessert. We’ll see how far I get (feel free to check in with me on Twitter @cinemasips to see if I’ve started swearing in Italian yet). I will leave you with this quote from Mario Puzo’s The Godfather: “Time erodes gratitude more quickly than it does beauty.” So take that gratitude you feel on Thanksgiving, and let it stay with you for a while. Cheers!

Rosemary’s Baby

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rosemarys baby

Image credit: Rosemary’s Baby, 1968.

Cute dresses, weird jewelry, and Ruth Gordon’s funky hats- THIS is how you get me to watch a horror film. Like a spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down, the costume and production design of Rosemary’s Baby (DVD/Download) make it palatable (dare I say, enjoyable) to a scary-movie neophyte like me. If you haven’t seen this classic film yet, stop what you’re doing and go watch it right now.  You’ll thank me later.

More than a horror film, I consider this picture to be classic suspense. Rosemary, played brilliantly by vintage-pixie Mia Farrow, is married to a handsome, feckless actor when they move into a storied New York City apartment building. Their neighbors, played by Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer, are old, very creepy, and secret occultists. Rosemary is drugged and raped by the devil while a bunch of naked senior citizens (AND HER AWFUL HUSBAND) stand by and watch, then she’s unknowingly forced to carry the spawn of Satan for 9 months. There are not enough words in the English language to fully convey how much I hate Rosemary’s husband, who makes her think he violently raped and clawed her up, instead of the devil in her dream. Because that’s somehow okay??? I’d say Rosemary needs a divorce attorney.

How, you ask, do Rosemary and her husband get pulled into this coven’s orbit? By that great social icebreaker, a cocktail party. Their strange neighbors serve up cocktails and terrible cake made of god-knows-what. Devil’s food? (Sorry, I had to). While you watch Rosemary’s Baby, I recommend drinking this Vodka Blush cocktail, straight from the Castavet’s fabulous apartment.

Vodka Blush

2 1/2 oz Vodka

½ oz Lime juice

½ oz Grenadine

Sprig of Rosemary for garnish

Mix vodka and lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until cold, then strain into a chilled flute. Slowly top with grenadine, and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

Vodka Blush

While I definitely had one tense night of sleep where I woke up expecting Ruth Gordon to be standing in a corner with too much lipstick and a lime green feather boa, this movie didn’t exactly scare the bejeezus out of me. I attribute this mainly to the relatable performance by Mia Farrow, Roman Polanski’s incredible direction, and an enviable 60’s wardrobe. I can only hope her maternity dresses will come back in style for the rest of us. Not that I’m planning on getting pregnant with the spawn of Satan, but they’re the perfect camouflage for a belly full of cocktails and queso. Cheers!

Clue

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Clue Mrs Peacock

Image credit: Clue, 1985

For over twenty-five years, I’ve been terrorized by a film. It haunted me into adolescence and adulthood, through midnight screenings and drunken Halloween parties. Just the mere mention of it caused my body to shudder and shake. When I finally got brave enough to admit my fear of Clue (DVD/Download), I was met with confused stares. “Wait,” people would say, “Are we talking about the same movie? Clue?? That really wacky murder-mystery movie from the 80’s?” Yes, that would be the one.

You see, seven-year old Liz Locke could not handle Clue. The sight of a gloved hand raising a wrench over an unsuspecting victim’s head gave me such tremendous nightmares that I had to sleep with my parents for a week. Even when they made me suck it up and deal with it, I never turned that nightlight off. EVER. When I grew up, and people tried to tell me how funny, how absurd this film is, I still resisted watching it. Why revisit past trauma? But this week, I finally decided to take the plunge. I actually rented Clue, and with trembling fingers, hit play. And you know what? I LOVED IT! I’ve decided I want to be Mrs. Peacock when I grow up, with her weird hats and cat-eye glasses. I’d be BFFs with Mr. Green, but only if he’s played by the brilliant Michael McKean. I’d attend dinner parties in a fabulous old New England mansion and scurry through secret passageways. And I would NOT slurp my soup.

Perhaps I should credit alcohol for being the main reason I now love this movie. With a cocktail (or two), just about anything can be fun. Normally I’d consider Brandy to be a serious spirit for serious films, but mixed with some maraschino and pineapple, it’s a flirty, 1950’s inspired drink fit for Mrs. Peacock. While watching Clue, I recommend drinking a Club Cocktail.

Club Cocktail

2 oz Brandy

½ oz Maraschino Liqueur

½ oz pineapple juice

2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Lemon Twist

Maraschino cherry

Mix Brandy, Marschino Liqueur, pineapple juice, and bitters in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon and maraschino cherry.

As a nod to this film’s three separate endings, try switching out the brandy with rum, or silver tequila. If you’re throwing a Halloween party, this could be a great way to mix things up. Like a choose-your-own adventure for booze. Show this film, then give the guests one of the three cocktail variations, or perhaps all three! They won’t know what hit them. Cheers to no more nightmares!

The Endless Summer

the endless summer

Image credit: The Endless Summer, 1966.

No, this week’s film is not about the Groundhog Day-esque hellscape that is Texas in August/September (although, LORD does this summer feel endless). Rather, it’s a documentary about two surfers in the 1960’s who chased the waves from California to Africa, Australia, and the South Pacific. The Endless Summer (Download) is both an explanation of surf culture, and a meditation on why it endures.

Featuring surf rock by The Sandals, a cheeky narration style, and painterly shots of beautiful beaches, The Endless Summer is instantly transporting. Watching this film, I feel like I’m experiencing the mid-60’s like never before. The hair, the cars, the music, the suits on airplanes—I love it all. For 90 minutes I’m mesmerized watching these men balance on boards that cut through the water like butter; waves rolling over them, pounding, punishing, and still they get up and do it again, all in search of that one perfect ride. When they find it, and the wave goes on forever, it’s a powerful moment. Surfing will never be the same for me.

Another thing I love about this film is that it speaks to the adventurer in all of us.  Who wouldn’t want to imagine themselves on a deserted South African beach, or sitting on Oahu watching death-defying surfers face off against the great waves of Waimea?  Obviously, when I picture myself in these scenarios, I’m enjoying a fabulous cocktail.  While watching The Endless Summer, I recommend drinking a Waimea Sunset.

Waimea Sunset

1 ½ oz Reposado Tequila

¼ oz Aperol

¼ oz Lime Juice

2 oz Grapefruit Juice

¼ oz Grenedine

2 oz club soda

Grapefruit twist

Combine Tequila, Aperol, Lime and Grapefruit juices, and Grenedine in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until chilled. Add club soda, and gently shake back and forth once to combine. Strain into a glass filled with ice, and garnish with a twist of grapefruit.

Waimea Sunset

I’ll be honest, when I think of surfers, I tend to stereotype them all as Spicoli– a long-haired burnout who talks slowly and can’t get a real job. But after watching The Endless Summer, I see how much focus and dedication it takes to participate in this sport, almost to the point of obsession. I don’t know what these guys ended up doing in their lives later on, but I like to think that they’re still out there, searching for that one perfect wave. Cheers!

The Kid Stays in the Picture

Kid Stays in the Picture

Image credit: The Kid Stays in the Picture, 2002.

As the summer of ’18 comes to a close, I’m reflecting on what a fantastic few months it was for documentaries at the multiplex (well, maybe not the multiplex, but at least that little indie cinema you keep promising yourself you’ll go to). With films like Won’t You Be My Neighbor, RBG, Three Identical Strangers, and Whitney generating considerable buzz, it’s gotten me excited about the medium again. In a world of “Fake News”, gaslighting, and malicious lies, isn’t it refreshing to see a film that seeks to tell the truth? Or at least, the truth according to someone…  As Robert Evans says in this week’s film The Kid Stays in the Picture (DVD/Download), “There are three sides to every story: Your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently.”

After watching the film, here are the things I do actually think are true:

  • Robert Evans was a so-so actor, a master salesman, and (for a time) a brilliant Hollywood producer. At age 34, he became the youngest studio head, taking over Paramount Pictures. That’s younger than I am now. The man knew how to hustle.
  • He shepherded some truly great films during his tenure, including Love Story, The Godfather, Goodbye Columbus, Harold and Maude, Rosemary’s Baby, and Chinatown. Just… wow.
  • He made a lot of mistakes in his personal life.
  • Hollywood would not be what it is today without him.

In adapting Evan’s memoir, The Kid Stays in the Picture pieces together still photography, film footage, and audio narration by Evans himself. If you love movies, you’ll love this movie. Although he personifies the “sleazy Hollywood producer” type, you can’t deny his talent. Plus, hearing him call his ex-wife Ali MacGraw “Snotnose MacGraw” is worth the rental price alone.

One thing that seemed to motivate Robert Evans was his own personal Eden, a Beverly Hills estate called Woodland. Surrounded by roses, trees, and a beautiful swimming pool, it’s the kind of fairy-tale house that just doesn’t get built anymore. If I were invited to a pool party, I know what I’d be drinking- a rose-flavored cocktail meant for an afternoon of script-reading and suntanning. While watching The Kid Stays in the Picture, I recommend drinking a Mountaintop cocktail.

Mountaintop

1 ½ oz vodka

¾ oz Campari

2 oz Grapefruit soda

2 oz Ginger Beer

½ oz Lime Juice

¼ tsp Rosewater

Build drink in a tumbler filled with ice, stirring gently to combine. Garnish with twist of lime.

Apex

The story of Robert Evans is so outrageous that I think it could only be told documentary-style. With Evan’s colorful bravado, who needs actors? I don’t know if he’s got a third/fourth/fifth? act in him, but if he does, I already know it’ll be one hell of a ride. 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!

Overboard

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overboard

Image credit: Overboard, 1987.

I’m aware that this week’s film just got a remake (ooh swapping gender roles- how novel….), but I think we all need to take a step back and appreciate how fantastic the original Overboard (DVD/Download) was and still is. Those costumes! That amazing chemistry between Goldie and Kurt! Mini-golf as an actual career ambition! Yachts in Oregon! I could go on, but first I need a drink.

Overboard is a perfect movie to watch with a cocktail because who doesn’t want to channel Goldie Hawn in a high-cut one-piece bathing suit and capelet, ordering her man servant around on the deck of a luxury yacht? You KNOW she’s a day-drinker. And even when she falls overboard, gets amnesia, is kidnapped by Kurt Russell and conned into taking care of his rambunctious children, she never loses that upper-crust sass. Sure, her heart grows bigger after falling for the aforementioned children and hunky handyman/mini-golf impresario (Russell), but she still acts like the kind of lady who would have a glass of rosé in the middle of the afternoon with zero apologies.

If you’re into the boating lifestyle, you’ve probably had a drink with limes and/or coconuts. It may be tacky and overdone, but sometimes the best things are.  While watching Overboard, I recommend drinking a Coconut Mojito.

Coconut Mojito

1 tbsp Simple Syrup

Mint Leaves

1 oz Lime Juice

1.5 oz White Rum

2 oz Coconut-flavored La Croix sparkling water

2 oz Club Soda or Topo Chico

Fresh Lime

In a highball, muddle the mint leaves with lime juice and simple syrup. Add ice, then the rum and coconut-flavored water. Stir gently to combine, then top with club soda. Garnish with a sprig of mint and lime wedge.

Coconut Mojito

This is an easy drink to make if you’re distracted by male hellions of your own, or if your butler has the day off. If you really want to make it a party, you can bust out the zebra print bathing suit and/or mullet wig. Life on a boat is so fun. Cheers!