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Rear Window

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Image credit: Rear Window, 1954

There’s nothing like a hot, humid night to make you want to cool off with an effortlessly chic film and icy cocktail. Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (Disc/Download) may take place during the dog days of summer, but it never fails to chill me to the bone.

With a main character loosely based on real-life celebrity/lifestyle photographer Slim Aarons, this movie seems tailor made to fit my mid-century sensibilities. But throw in a tense murder mystery, voyeurism, and Hitchcockian suspense, and this Edith Head-flavored eye candy becomes a masterpiece. I’ve always loved Jimmy Stewart in a Hitchcock film because it’s an opportunity for cinema’s favorite everyman to dig a little deeper. As we see him lock eyes with a killer across the courtyard, it becomes apparent—this Jimmy has a dark side. One that compels him to watch his neighbors with the lights off, studying their movements, becoming involved in their dramas from afar. He can joke with Thelma Ritter and flirt with his socialite girlfriend, but there’s no denying the slight element of criminality to his behavior. Watching isn’t murder, but it’s still a violation.

Speaking of Thelma Ritter, I’d like to toast this 20th Century Queen of “Telling it Like it Is”. As the nurse who tends to Jimmy’s  L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries and his broken leg, she admonishes his semi-creepy voyeur habits while simultaneously musing about body disposal and blood spatter. Murderinos unite! When the action heats up, cool down with this Peeping Tom Collins.

Peeping Tom Collins

2 oz London Dry Gin

1 oz Lemon Juice

1 oz Ginger Liqueur

1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Club Soda to top

Lemon Wheel for garnish

Build drink over ice, stirring to combine. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

With just a hint of a spicy kick from the ginger liqueur, this drink will make you aware of how hot it is outside, but grateful you have air conditioning (unlike the poor folks in this Greenwich Village apartment complex). And be sure to watch out for a scene in which three people swirl brandy for about ten minutes straight, literally hypnotizing the viewer. If this was Hitch’s brand of misdirection, consider me duped. I have no idea what happened in that scene, other than the fact that Grace Kelly likes to aerate her alcohol and wear chunky charm bracelets. Cheers!

Pillow Talk

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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)