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The Apartment

Photo Credit Mirisch Corporation, 1960

Photo Credit Mirisch Corporation, 1960

Happy New Year from Cinema Sips! What a fabulous excuse to drink a cocktail. Tonight, I’m screening one of my favorite films, Billy Wilder’s The Apartment. This picture takes place over the holiday season in Mad Men-era New York City, and ends with a climactic New Years Eve. What better way to ring in 2014 than with a sparkling cocktail and the sparkling chemistry between Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine in this wonderful classic film. Additionally, the cocktails are certainly flowing in this movie, so I can think of no better film to end 2013 on than this one.

The Apartment tells the story of Jack Lemmon’s character C.C. Baxter, a lowly employee of a large life insurance firm. In order to work his way up in the firm, he lends his apartment out to company executives and their mistresses. Things turn sour when he realizes that one of those mistresses is the woman he’s already fallen for, adorable white-gloved elevator operator Shirley MacLaine. Although there is a lot of humor in this film, there is quite a lot of darkness too. MacLaine does a wonderful job of playing the wounded “other woman”, who is both funny and devastatingly sad at the same time. Jack Lemmon is charming with his bowler hats and tennis racket-strained spaghetti, yet his character also harbors a dark suicidal past. Billy Wilder’s script is perfect as usual, filled with witty banter and charming outdated phrases. Oh to be Shirley MacLaine with her cute little white gloves and her frozen daiquiris in a basement tiki bar- I love it all.

For my cocktail tonight, I’m referencing the multitude of martinis that are drunk during the course of this film, as well as the champagne that makes the final scene so climactic. I’m adding a splash of Cassis liquor to make it a bit more festive and sweeter, and just a hint of lemon to bring out the fruitiness of the champagne. This drink is similar to a Kir Royale, only with an addition of vodka and lemon. In this film, the most shocking thing of all is not that C.C. Baxter lets numerous men and women have trysts in his bed, but rather that he lives in an absolutely HUGE apartment in New York City, for which he pays a mere $85 a month. To that end, I’m serving up the Low Rent Royale Martini tonight.

1 ½ oz vodka

½ oz Cassis liqueur

Champagne or dry sparkling wine

Lemon twist

Shake vodka and cassis liqueur together over ice, and strain into a chilled glass. Top with Champagne and lemon twist.

kir-royale-martini

I hope you enjoy this sparkling cocktail as much as I do, and with any luck The Apartment will make you laugh while simultaneously tugging at your heart strings. Whether you already have your someone special to kiss at midnight, or you’re still looking for that person, this film makes me hopeful that good things are ahead. At least drinks-wise anyway. Happy New Year, and cheers!

You’ve Got Mail

Photo credit: Warner Bros, 1998

Photo credit: Warner Bros, 1998

Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan week comes to a close with my personal favorite of their collaborations, You’ve Got Mail. Based on the wonderful Jimmy Stewart film The Shop Around the Corner, this film replaces the letters of olden days with emails and instant messaging. Back when this film was released, AOL instant messaging was new and trendy, though now it seems quaint (in the same way we look back curiously on party lines and wonder- what were they thinking?). Of course now, texting and Facebook have replaced instant messaging, but back in the day this was cutting edge dating technology. Whether or not you look at this film and laugh at that old AOL email alert declaring “You’ve Got Mail!” or yearn for the days when people could get to know each other without seeing photos and your entire life story flashed upon your Facebook page, the chemistry between Hanks and Ryan and the witty Nora Ephron script make this movie definitely worth watching.

In this film, Tom Hanks’s character Joe Fox meets cute with Meg Ryan’s character Kathleen Kelly when his large Barnes & Noble-esque book store opens in New York City and threatens to drive her small independent children’s book store out of business. They become fast enemies in person, but little do they know, they’ve already fallen for each other online after meeting in a chat room (now THERE’S a blast from the past) and exchanging emails. I’ve come to love everything about this movie- the beautiful shots of New York’s West Village, Meg Ryan’s adorable haircut, Tom Hanks’ dog Brinkley, and lines like, “I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.” It’s classic Nora Ephron, and I love watching as she both romanticizes and satirizes the life of the upper class intellectual New Yorker.

For my cocktail pairing, I’m making a festive, holiday-appropriate drink that I think captures the feistiness and sweetness of Kathleen Kelly. This is a great way to use up some of that leftover cranberry juice or cranberries from your holiday gatherings, and very easy to make (for those of you who are totally over measuring and mixing and dirtying your kitchen).

The Shopgirl Spritz

1.5 oz gin

1 oz cranberry juice

1 oz lime juice

.5 oz simple syrup

Club Soda

Fresh Cranberries for garnish

Fill a collins glass with crushed ice, pour in the gin, cranberry, and lime juices and stir well. Top with Club Soda and cranberries.

I like to imagine Kathleen Kelly would drink this while listening to Joni Mitchell and reading Pride and Prejudice for the one millionth time. Or maybe that’s just what I want to do. At any rate, if this is the last movie that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan ever make together, at least they went out on a high note. I’ll always laugh as Tom Hanks flirts with the cashier at Zabar’s, and get misty when Meg Ryan says tearfully, “I wanted it to be you so bad.” Watch it with a box of Kleenex (and a drink). Cheers!