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Good Will Hunting

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Image credit: Good Will Hunting, 1997

Image credit: Good Will Hunting, 1997

It FINALLY feels like fall outside, and I’m surrounded by apple spice/pumpkin spice everything. This time of year always makes me nostalgic for crunchy leaves underfoot and college co-eds in sweaters. I can think of no better movie to watch in autumn than Good Will Hunting (DVD/Download). So curl up with a plaid blanket, fix a drink, and prepare to be lulled in by a soothing Danny Elfman score and the timid songs of Elliott Smith. I feel like skipping class all over again!

Good Will Hunting will always be known as the film that made Matt Damon and Ben Affleck famous, as BFFs, actors, and screenwriters. It’s the Hollywood story everyone loves to hear- two childhood best friends write a script, Robin Williams decides he wants to be in it, Harvey Weinstein decides he wants to produce it, the film is made, released, it’s a big success, and the two best friends bask in Oscar glory. Of course, there’s probably a lot more to the story than that, but that PR-approved legend is just as heartwarming as the movie itself. I know this film about a young mathematical prodigy overcoming childhood trauma to find love gets criticized for being too saccharine at times (It’s Not Your Fault) but no one can deny the brilliant performance by Robin Williams as a down-to-earth psychologist, the charming Southie accents of Matt Damon and his crew of friends, or the perfect, weepy Elliott Smith soundtrack. It still kills me that “Miss Misery” lost out on the Oscar to Celine Dion and “My Heart Will Go On”. I demand a recount.

One of the best, and most oft-quoted lines of the film is when Matt Damon’s Will Hunting announces he got the number of a girl in a bar and, well, “how do you like them apples?” I’ve recently fallen in love with Argus Cidery’s Ciderkin hard apple cider, and I’ve been dying to use it in a cocktail. So while watching Good Will Hunting, I suggest drinking Them Apples.

Them Apples

1.5 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon

1 oz butterscotch schnapps

3 oz apple cider

4 oz Argus Cidery Ciderkin

Build drink over ice, stirring gently to combine.

Them Apples

It’s still fun to watch this movie and see how incredibly young Matt Damon and Ben Affleck look. They’re major blockbuster stars now (in fact I just caught Matt Damon in the stellar film The Martian over the weekend), but back then they were just a couple of kids with some Kevin Smith film credits. And of course, my heart aches for all the Robin Williams performances we’ll never get to see in the future. This one is just so damn good. So bundle up, settle in, and if you need me- sorry guys, I gotta go see about a drink. Cheers!

The Birdcage

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Image credit: United Artists, The Birdcage, 1996

Image credit: United Artists, The Birdcage, 1996

As we all know, last week the world lost one of the great comedic icons of cinema, Robin Williams. Some took the loss harder than others, but personally I was saddened to think that I wouldn’t get a chance to see what sort of role he would take on next. As an actor, he always had a way of surprising me. Just when I thought he was the zany, manic comedian whose brain worked just a bit faster than anyone else’s, he would throw a curveball in the form of a great drama like Insomnia and completely change the way I viewed him. When I heard the news last Monday, my neighbor mentioned having just watched him in The Birdcage (DVD/Download). Hearing that, a lightbulb went on over my head. YES! This was the way I would celebrate him, by watching Robin Williams in one of his greatest roles, yucking it up with Nathan Lane, while being equally heartbreaking as a man trying to defend his sexuality. Plus, with the Miami setting and drag queens galore, this movie just screams for a cocktail pairing.

The Birdcage stars Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as two homosexual lovers who run a Miami drag nightclub. Nathan Lane is the star of their revue, and Robin Williams is the director. They have also raised Robin William’s son together, and now said son is coming home as an adult with the announcement that he’s engaged. Unfortunately the girl he’s engaged to is the daughter of a staunch republican senator. Soon, the conservative family comes down to Miami to meet the future in-laws, and Williams and Lane have to pretend to be a married couple, with Nathan Lane in drag. The cast in this film is stellar, with Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest playing the senator and his wife, respectively, and Hank Azaria steals just about every scene he’s in as the flamboyant houseboy “Agador Spartacus”. Williams and Lane are so brilliant together that I find myself wanting them to actually be a married couple in real life. They spar, they bicker, but they love each other deeply. Anybody questioning marriage equality need look no further than these two characters to see why it’s worth the fight.

Fans of the Cinema Sips Facebook page already know what my cocktail pairing is, but I am now sharing the actual recipe. For The Birdcage, I wanted to find a drink that was appropriate for the tropical Miami climate, but also sweet and strong like Robin Williams’ character. Immediately, I thought of the Hemingway Daiquiri I recently enjoyed at new Austin, TX rum bar Pleasant Storage Room. It was cool and refreshing on a hot day, and not sticky like many bastardized versions of the daiquiri often are. I inwardly cringe when I see a frozen daiquiri on a menu (mainly because I know in that instance I’m probably sitting at a TGI Friday’s, and how on earth did that happen?!).  So please, do me a favor, and serve your daiquiri’s shaken, not blended or frozen, the way God and drunk writers intended.

Hemingway Daiquiri

2 oz white rum

¾ oz fresh key lime juice

½ oz fresh grapefruit juice

½ oz maraschino liqueur

Add all liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, and strain into a chilled coupe glass.

Hemingway Daiquiri

 

This is called the Hemingway Daiquiri because Ernest Hemingway is rumored to have drunk quite a lot of these in his day, starting at the El Floridita bar in Havana. I think it’s fitting for The Birdcage because I can almost picture Robin Williams mixing one of these up for his enchanting Starina, which she will drink pinky-up of course. I urge you to watch this movie, and try not to be sad that Robin Williams is no longer with us. Instead, think about how lucky we are that great films like this one will live on forever. He will always be funny, he will always be a bit heartbreaking, and he will always make me smile. Cheers!