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Farewell to the Summer Light

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Farewell to the Summer Light

Image credit: Farewell to the Summer Light, 1968.

For fans of Wong Kar-wai and Richard Linklater, I present to you the 1968 gem, Farewell to the Summer Light (avail. on YouTube). A love story featuring two Japanese expats walking and talking about nothing and everything, this movie hits me right where it matters. Watch it, but be warned- this one will stay with you.

Beautifully shot in Lisbon, Paris, Madrid, Scandinavia, and Rome, Yoshishige Yoshida’s film is a tapestry of European cities. Kawamura is searching for a mythical church when he meets Naoko, a married furniture/art buyer, still traumatized by the loss of her family to the Nagasaki atomic bomb. Kawamura and Naoko relate to one another initially through their heritage and the displaced feeling of being foreigners in a Western world, but eventually, their friendly wandering turns into attraction. In a constant push/pull, we feel the disappointment each time they leave one another, then the heart-lifting triumph when they find each other in a new city. It’s a love grounded in fate, but stymied by circumstance.

This gorgeous film deserves an equally lovely cocktail pairing with Japanese and European influences. While watching Farewell to the Summer Light, I recommend drinking this Low Tide cocktail.

Low Tide

1 ½ oz Sake

3-4 oz Dry Cava

½ oz Lime Juice

½ oz Mint Simple Syrup

Lime Twist

Combine Sake, Lime Juice, and Simple syrup in a shaker over ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a or flute. Top with Cava, and garnish with a twist of lime.

Low Tide

I’ll admit, my 1960s international film tastes have largely skewed toward the French and Italian, but Farewell to the Summer Light makes me want to learn more about what was happening in Japanese cinema. When Naoko and Kawamura kiss in front of a cathedral built on the beaches of Normandy, you realize what their love truly is—a beautiful sandcastle not meant to last. There’s such poetry in the way it’s shot; a desperation that practically tears through the screen. I may still look the same on the outside, but inside I’ll be carrying that scene with me forever. Cheers!

The World of Henry Orient

The World of Henry Orient

Image credit: The World of Henry Orient, 1964.

YA literature of the 1950’s and ‘60’s knew what girls wanted. I think of it as the three F’s:  Friendship, Freedom, and Fun. Some of my favorite authors of the time period, including Jane Trahey (The Trouble With Angels), Mary Rogers (Freaky Friday), and Beverly Cleary (Ramona books) covered the three F’s so well that their books and movie adaptations will always be timeless.  Such is the case with this week’s film, based on the novel by Nora Johnson, The World of Henry Orient (Disc/Download).

In many ways, this movie displays a fairy-tale version of Manhattan.  Two teenage girls roam freely through Central Park, leaping over sidewalk trash cans, having grand and glorious adventures under the shadow of skyscrapers and brownstones without fear of being raped, murdered, or mugged. Marian and Viv are like charming characters from a Wes Anderson film (down to the fur coat worn by disaffected Viv); more concerned with meeting heartthrob pianist Henry Orient (played by Peter Sellers) than they are with their parents’ divorces.  In fact, it’s only when Viv’s adulterous mother (played by a sexxxxxxy Angela Lansbury) has an affair with Orient that the adult world starts to seep into their halcyon afternoons.  They’re suddenly forced to grow up, to realize that the people who are supposed to protect them aren’t doing such a good job of it.  Maybe all a girl can really count on is her BFF. And, a cuddly Tom Bosley.

The Peter Sellers character Henry Orient is a strange bird.  He spends most of his time having affairs and playing piano very, very badly. His name gives rise to some Asian-influenced style choices by the girls, including one scene with conical hats, and his apartment is very red and very lacquered.  He also sounds like he hails from either Italy or New Jersey, depending on the scene and the sentence.  Truly, a man of mystery.  While watching The World of Henry Orient, I suggest drinking this Red Lotus cocktail

Red Lotus

1.5 oz Vodka

1.5 oz Hana Lychee Sake

1.5 oz Cranberry juice

1.5 oz Lime Juice

.5 oz Grenadine

Combine ingredients in a shaker filled with ice, shake until chilled, then strain into a martini glass. 

Red Lotus

There’s something about these vintage teen girl stories which resonates even stronger with me than the YA literature we know today. In discovering The World of Henry Orient as an adult, I’ve found a tale that feels like a cool wind whipping through the leaves of Central Park. It allows me to imagine an innocent place where precocious girls giggle, whisper, and “adventure” long after the sun has set, experiencing the heady rush of true freedom. Cheers!