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The Darjeeling Limited

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the darjeeling limited

Image credit: The Darjeeling Limited, 2007

Trains are pretty fascinating if you stop to think about it. Depending on which seat you choose, you have the ability to look forward or backward in time, contemplating how the past will influence the future, and how your present is just a brief stopping point on the journey to somewhere else. In this week’s film The Darjeeling Limited (Disc/Download), three brothers do just that on a sleeper car through India. Grab your savoury snacks and teapot- it’s time to dig deep.

Perfectly placed within the Wes Anderson film canon, The Darjeeling Limited features familiar elements like vintage luggage, perfectly tailored suits in various states of dishevelment, a place for everything/everything in its place, and a lot of paterfamilias drama. As three brothers (Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Adrien Brody) grapple with their father’s death and their mother’s abandonment, they reexamine their relationships with one another to figure out where they went off the rails (pun intended). The Darjeeling Limited train is pretty much the only way I would ever travel through India, and only if it was designed by Wes Anderson. I thought I was partial to the 20th Century Limited in North by Northwest, but the Darjeeling Limited has a quirky exoticism to it I can’t resist. Plus- SAVOURY SNACKS!

During the summer, I would definitely watch this film with a sweet lime gimlet (recipe here).  But during the winter, a toddy feels more appropriate.  With exotic spices and flavors, this drink will make you feel transported to the sunny, hot climate of India.  While watching The Darjeeling Limited, I recommend drinking a Darjeeling Toddy.

Darjeeling Toddy

1 bag Darjeeling tea

1 cup boiling water

1 oz dark spiced rum

1 oz cognac

1 Tbsp honey

1 small piece dried ginger

2 tsp lemon juice

1 lemon wedge

Combine water, rum, and cognac in a saucepan, and drop in tea bag and ginger to steep. After about 5 minutes, discard tea bag and ginger, then stir in honey. Strain mixture into a mug, and add the lemon juice. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

darjeeling toddy

There’s such a romance to trains that it’s easy to see why they’re still featured in cinema, even when they’re no longer a part of most people’s itineraries.  In an era of depressing air travel and trying to get somewhere as fast as possible, it’s nice to watch people slowing down to experience the journey itself. Cheers!

Inherent Vice

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Inherent Vice

Image credit: Inherent Vice, 2014

I’ve received several requests on Cinema Sips to feature The Big Lebowski, to which I always say, what’s the point? We can all quote it endlessly and drink White Russians without my advocating it. To satisfy the stoner-noir fans out there, I’d rather talk about a movie that is a little more bizarre, and a little less well-known. Like Lebowski, Inherent Vice (DVD/Download) is a movie that demands repeat viewing, almost as much as it demands viewing with a cocktail.

Adapted from the novel by Thomas Pynchon, Paul Thomas Anderson’s hilarious take on the 1970’s Los Angeles underworld was a bit of a mystery upon its release. Critics didn’t seem to know whether to love it or hate it. The consensus was- nobody really got it. Do I fully understand all the twists and turns of a plot centered on a Gordita Beach private investigator, played by Joaquin Phoenix in all his mutton-chop glory? No. Do I care? No. The movie is just cool as hell. Featuring Martin Short as a purple-velour suited dentist, Owen Wilson as a heroin-addicted jazz musician, and Reese Witherspoon playing, well Reese Witherspoon, with all this crazy I just can’t look away. Yes the plot meanders, but it’s so well-acted and so funny, that you just get sucked into the lunacy of it all.

I’m not going to say that the movie needs alcohol or marijuana to be more enjoyable, but it certainly helps. If you happen to live in a non-progressive state (like I do), and can’t get legal access to weed, then certainly the next best thing is a strong cocktail. I’ve come up with this zombie-beach bum hybrid to maximize your viewing pleasure. While watching Inherent Vice, I recommend drinking a Golden Fang.

Golden Fang

1 oz lime juice

1 oz pineapple juice

1 oz orange juice

1.5 oz dark rum

1 part apricot brandy

1.5 oz light rum

Splash of lemon-lime soda

Maraschino cherry and citrus fruit for garnish

Build drink over ice in a highball glass, stirring gently to combine. Garnish with a cherry and citrus fruit slice.

Golden Fang

Because of Anderson’s superb directorial skill, Inherent Vice succeeds in immersing the viewer in the world of 1970s LA counterculture. Full of Manson paranoia and unfortunate facial hair, it was certainly a city on the edge. If you’re looking for an escape this week, there’s no better place than Gordita Beach. Cheers!

The Royal Tenenbaums

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Image Credit Touchtone Pictures 2001, The Royal Tenenbaums

Image Credit Touchtone Pictures 2001, The Royal Tenenbaums

A recent screening of The Grand Budapest Hotel has inspired me this week to revisit my favorite Wes Anderson film, The Royal Tenenbaums (DVD/Download). Of course I love any film by this director who has such a keen eye for style, but my personal favorite is still this 2001 ode to dysfunctional families and Nico. It’s quirky, it’s stylish, and it’s heartfelt (I dare anyone not to feel saddened to their core as Elliott Smith’s ‘Needle in the Hay’ frames a character’s suicide attempt), but it’s also delightfully funny in other moments. With The Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson has created a world that seems so real that I feel like I could just put on a Lacoste polo dress and aviator sunglasses and step right in.

This film tells the story of the wealthy Tenenbaum family and the struggle of the patriarch Royal to bring them back together. Gene Hackman does a phenomenal job of playing the hilarious and conniving Royal, and Anjelica Huston brings an unexpected softness to the part of his estranged wife Etheline. Their three children are played by Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, and Ben Stiller, and all three are former child prodigies who have grown up to be adult messes. Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Owen Wilson round out the cast, along with the sadly now-deceased Kumar Pallana (or Pagoda as I’ll always think of him). Of course the sets and costumes are phenomenal, like a 1970’s dollhouse come to life. There are the typical Wes Anderson quirks, like a pet hawk named Mordecai, and Dalmatian mice, and of course the soundtrack is perfect in every way. A mix of The Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, Paul Simon, and a plucky orchestral score, the music of The Royal Tenenbaums always makes me feel like I’ve just raided the record collection of a very cool relative.

For my cocktail pairing, I wanted to find something that seemed classic yet eccentric, sort of like the characters in this film. I scoured my bar to come up with a list of ingredients that would be off-putting on their own, yet when brought together would make a wonderful union. I call this week’s concoction the Tenenbaum Toast.

 

1 ½ oz Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka
½ oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
½ oz Key Lime Juice
1 oz Club Soda
1 tsp Grenadine

Fill a champagne flute or small glass (the more unusual the better!) with crushed ice. Combine first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into prepared glass and top with club soda and grenadine. Dalmatian straw optional.

 

tenenbaum's-toast
The pink color of this drink is meant to match that beautiful “Wes Anderson Pink” (as I like to call it) that covers the walls of the Tenenbaum house, as well as much of The Grand Budapest Hotel. I like to think that Margot Tenenbaum would enjoy one of these in the bathtub with her clandestine vintage cigarettes, as her old television teeters perilously close to the water. So as Wes Anderson is showered with accolades for his latest film, I urge you to take the time to re-discover one of his older works with a strange and wonderful cocktail. If you want to go all out, layer on the eye liner and watch with a bored expression. Cheers!

Midnight in Paris

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Midnight in Paris, photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Midnight in Paris, photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

This week is something I’ve been looking forward to since I started Cinema Sips. I hate to play favorites, and obviously I’m still discovering new cocktails while I write this blog, but if I had to chose a favorite drink, it would definitely be the French ’75. Typically I’ve been starting with the movie and finding a drink that I think pairs nicely with it. But in this case, the French ’75 is so special to me that I couldn’t wait for a movie to come along that would inspire me to choose this drink. This week, I searched my DVD (and VHS and Laserdisc!) collections in order to find the best excuse possible to make a French ’75, and I finally settled on one of my favorite films of the past few years, Midnight in Paris.

I was never a huge fan of Woody Allen’s older films (sorry, not even Annie Hall) but I really love his newer works. What I love about Midnight in Paris is that although it’s a completely absurd scenario (a writer travels to Paris with his obnoxious fiance, and while walking the streets at night, finds himself in a time-warp of literary giants) I really root for the characters and want this plot to be a reality. Every night at midnight, this writer (played by Owen Wilson) is transported to his dream era- Paris in the 1920’s. It was the heyday of writers and artists and thinkers, and also a heyday for cocktail drinkers. Coincidence? I think not. He meets F. Scott Fitzgerald and his charming wife Zelda (played brilliantly by Alison Pill), along with Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Man Ray, and Salvador Dali. When I first read about the plot of this movie I thought it sounded absurd; however, Owen Wilson’s wide-eyed, giddy portrayal of the modern writer makes me feel more than excited to go on this journey with him. And while you’re going on this journey, why not enjoy a fabulous gin cocktail?

Over the years, I’ve honed my recipe of the French ’75, and now lucky readers of Cinema Sips get to reap the benefits:

Fitzgerald’s French ’75

1oz dry gin

½ fresh lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

2oz chilled champagne

1 lemon twist

Combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake until cold, then pour into martini glass. Top with champagne and lemon twist.

French-75

I chose Midnight in Paris for my French ’75 pairing first of all because of the film’s Parisian setting, but second of all because it’s widely known that F. Scott Fitzgerald was a heavy gin drinker. This is my very favorite gin cocktail, so what better way to celebrate a literary hero of mine. Also, this drink feels like a cocktail of a bygone era, and like the main character, I dream of being transported back to a time when all of these amazing artists were mingling and creating and making history. By the end of the film, Owen Wilson realizes that everybody has their own unique ideal time and place. I’m lucky that I can truthfully say I’m living in mine right now-  Austin TX circa 2013. But if I ever want to take a vacation (in my mind) to the most fabulous version of Paris, I just have to put on this movie and make sure the gin is cold and the champagne is flowing. Cheers!