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Giant

Giant

Image credit: Giant, 1956

They say everything is bigger in Texas. Well, when it comes to cinema, perhaps they’re right. A prime example would be this week’s film Giant (DVD/Download). True Texans, and yes even Yankee transplants like me, can appreciate this epic film about land, greed, pride, and passion. With a run time of 3 hours and 20 minutes, there’s nothing small about Giant. With Thanksgiving looming, it’s the perfect time to settle in with a classic film about gluttony and family dysfunction.

Starring Rock Hudson as a west Texas rancher and Elizabeth Taylor as his Yankee bride, the timeline of Giant spans decades as it tells the story of the Reata ranch and its unhappy inhabitants. As a progressive northerner, Taylor is a fish out of water in the wild frontier of rural Texas. She loves her husband, and grows to love the barren open environment of her new home, but gets easily frustrated by the prejudice and intolerance she frequently witnesses. Her ally (a very HOT James Dean) saunters across the screen all brooding and beautiful, and together these two outcasts form an unlikely friendship. Their scenes together are simply magic, and one can truly sense the mutual respect that these two people shared in real life as well. Of course, Elizabeth Taylor’s chemistry with Rock Hudson is pretty incredible too, and the scene of Hudson gazing longingly at his estranged wife from across a crowded wedding, with love and adoration written all over his face, is one of the most romantic moments I’ve witnessed on the big screen. Seriously, all the feels.

With a movie about Texas cattle, dusty plains, and bit hats, one has to indulge in a little bourbon. OK, maybe a lot of bourbon. After all, you’ve got over 3 hours to sip- make it a double. While watching Giant, I recommend drinking a Reata Sweet Tea (bonus points for using Texas ingredients!).

Reata Sweet Tea

1 ½ oz Treaty Oak Red Handed Bourbon

1 oz Firefly Sweet Tea Bourbon

6 oz Texas Honey Cider

½ oz Lemon Juice

2 dashes Orange Bitters

Pour all ingredients over ice in a highball glass, stirring gently to combine.

Reata Sweet Tea

I’ve lived in Texas for more than a decade, but in many ways I can still identify with Elizabeth Taylor’s outsider character. I see a lot of injustices in my state, and tend to shake my fists pretty hard at our government, but I also have a deep appreciation for the land and the people I’ve met here. I’m proud to say I’m a Texan, despite not being a native one. You see, Texas is a state of mind, and yes- it is giant. Cheers y’all!

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Pillow Talk

Posted on
Image Credit: Universal Pictures 1959

Image Credit: Universal Pictures 1959

This is one of those weeks where the drink I want to make is the main influence for my movie selection. Today, I really wanted to use the new Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka that I bought myself as a Christmas present, plus I had a great mock-tail recipe I wanted to convert into a cocktail. Because the drink is pink-hued and sweetened with honey, I immediately thought of Pillow Talk. This is one of my all-time favorite films, and it made me a lifelong lover of all things Doris Day. I love her Manhattan apartment with its pink walls and pink countertops, her fun little hats, and the way she’s a smart, sophisticated, career-oriented woman during a time period when that was not really the norm. Doris Day did a number of working-gal romantic comedies during the late 1950’s-early 1960’s, but this one is by far the best.

In Pillow Talk, Doris Day plays Jan Morrow, an interior decorator who shares a party line with Rock Hudson’s character Brad Allen. For those youngsters who aren’t familiar, a party line was a phone line you shared with a total stranger. Brad Allen is a playboy musician who spends most of his time romancing women over the phone, and Jan can’t get any business calls through. They argue with each other over the phone, but then by chance Brad sees Jan in real life, falls head over heels, and disguises himself as Rex Stetson, the Texas-twang-voiced cowboy with a penchant for dip recipes and calling women “ma’am”. Jan falls for him, not knowing his true identity, and well, you can probably figure out the rest. I love Day’s intelligent pluckiness, and the chemistry between her and Rock Hudson is electric. Tony Randall also turns in a hilarious performance as Jan’s lovesick client (a pre-Niles Crane study in effeminate straight male characters) and let’s not forget Thelma Ritter as Jan’s boozy maid Alma.

For my drink, I’ll be using Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka, which is a great mixer, or just fine on its own with a little lime over ice. I came across a wonderful non-alcoholic mixed drink on TheKitchn blog which I posted on the Cinema Sips Facebook page a week ago, and it got such a good response that I felt inspired to use it here. I’m keeping most of the recipe the same, but tossing in a shot of grapefruit vodka to up the ante. Note, this recipe produces enough syrup for several servings of this drink, so either invite friends to drink with you, or refrigerate the leftovers. In celebration of Rex Stetson’s charming colloquial sayings, I call this one the Honey Lamb.

Honey Lamb

Zest of 1 large pink grapefruit

1 cup freshly-squeezed pink grapefruit juice

¾ cup mild-flavored honey

1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger

Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka

Carbonated water (I used grapefruit-flavored water)

Combine the grapefruit zest, juice, honey, and ginger in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring to dissolve the honey.

Remove from heat and let cool. Strain the syrup through a sieve into a clean container and discard the solids.

Put 2 tablespoons of the grapefruit syrup into a collins glass filled with ice. Add a shot of grapefruit vodka. Top with carbonated water and stir lightly.

Honey Lamb

Feel free to invite some of your non-imbibing friends to your viewing party and just leave out the vodka. I promise, even people that aren’t really into classic cinema will love this film. Doris Day’s fashions alone are enough to make me swoon, and that’s even before dreamy Rock Hudson makes his appearance on screen. Just for fun, I suggest taking a drink every time he plays the “You Are My Inspiration” song. Warning- if your drink does contain vodka, you may want to take a lesson from Alma and stay out of fast-moving elevators tomorrow. Cheers!

(Note:  The cute straws in my drinks can be found here)