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Dirty Dancing

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Image credit Dirty Dancing 1987

Image credit Dirty Dancing 1987

This week on Cinema Sips, I’m featuring a great summertime classic movie that pairs oh so well with a seasonal fruity cocktail. Dirty Dancing (DVD/Download) was a movie that I was forbidden to watch as a child, so of course my desire to see it grew to epic proportions until I finally watched it at a friend’s house around age fourteen and thought, “That’s IT??” I’d seen more scandal on All My Children on pretty much a daily basis by then, so what my mother’s reasoning was for keeping me in the dark, I still don’t know. But I will say, once I got over the disappointment that my world was not indeed rocked by this movie, I wanted to watch it again and again for the magic that is Patrick Swayze.

Dirty Dancing is the coming-of-age story of a young woman, Baby Houseman, who goes to a resort in the Catskills with her family over the summer, and falls in love with her dance instructor. Jennifer Grey was cast as Baby (despite that nose and badly permed hair), and Patrick Swayze plays bad-boy dancer Johnny Castle (what a name!!!). He teaches her the merengue; she teaches him that rich people are capable of kindness. They make love in his cabin and wear the latest 80’s fashions (despite this film taking place during 1963). Pretty much everybody in this movie is forgettable, with the exception of Mr. Swayze. He’s sexy, funny, vulnerable, and man- can he move! I love it when tough guys can also dance, and in his case, sing too. “She’s Like the Wind” is SOOOOOO 80’s, so again, why is it in this 60’s set film? Who knows. Dirty Dancing veers so close to being a terrible movie we love to make fun of, and of course I do mock parts of it relentlessly, but when it comes down to it, I could watch Baby and Johnny in the lake every day and still swoon every time.

My drink this week is inspired by Baby’s famous line when she first meets Johnny. “I carried a watermelon.” Yes Baby, you successfully brought fruit to a sexy dance party. Well done. I enjoyed this particular cocktail at San Antonio’s Hotel Havana last summer, and I was really excited to find a recipe for it in my favorite cocktail bible, Tipsy Texan. While watching Dirty Dancing, I recommend drinking a Watermelon Sandia.

Watermelon Sandia

2 oz Vodka

¾ oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur

1 ½ oz watermelon water (see note)

¾ oz fresh lime juice

¼ oz simple syrup

Watermelon wedge for garnish


Combine all the ingredients, except the watermelon wedge, in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the watermelon wedge.

Note: I made my watermelon water by muddling chunks of watermelon into a strainer placed over a small bowl. The solids will collect in the strainer, and the water will flow into the bowl.


Nothing says summertime like watermelon and a passionate fling, though of course we all hope that Johnny and Baby live happily ever after (until he most likely gets drafted and sent to Vietnam). My favorite part is when Johnny punches through the window in his car, causing Baby to shriek “You’re Wild!!” about 5 miles down the road. To which my husband always shouts, “He just made that poor girl sit on broken glass!” So crank up the air conditioning, sip your Sandia, and remember- nobody puts Baby in a corner. Cheers!




Image Credit Walt Diwney Pictures, 1992

Image Credit Walt Disney Pictures, 1992

Page-boy caps. Attractive and well-choreographed boys singing and dancing on the streets of New York. Crutchy. That’s right, this week’s Cinema Sips headliner is…… Newsies (!!!!!!). I’ve been obsessed with this movie ever since it premiered on The Disney Channel in the early-90’s. I had no idea what a labor union was, but if it involved singing catchy tunes and Christian Bale as a hot teenager in a kicky scarf, by all means sign me up. This week, while coming down from my Valentine’s sugar buzz, I decided I needed a boost in the form of this totally entertaining movie musical.

Newsies (DVD/Download) was a pretty big flop when it premiered in theaters, but since then, it has gained the cult status it so richly deserves. Newsies tells the story of the newsboy’s strike of 1899, wherein the lowly newsboys battled the mighty Pulitzer and Hearst by organizing a union and striking for increased pay and better working conditions. Of course, this being Disney, there are some wonderful songs and brilliantly choreographed dance scenes interspersed among the drama, along with some truly terrible New York accents. Heavyweight actors Robert Duvall and Bill Pullman round out the cast, but it’s Christian Bale who really shines here. This film may be an embarrassing “what was I thinking?!” moment for him now that he’s SERIOUS ACTOR Christian Bale, but I don’t care. I’ll always love him most as Jack Kelly, the cowboy of Manhattan, sellin’ papes and breakin’ hearts.

I found inspiration for my drink this week in a wonderful book I was given, Tipsy Texan by David Alan. I wanted to do something inspired by my favorite song from the movie, Santa Fe. Unsure of how green chilies might translate into the beverage arena, I opted instead to try something using the Mexican liquor Mezcal . This is similar to tequila (in fact tequila is a type of mezcal) but it has a smokier flavor. I like to imagine that Jack Kelly would have eventually turned 18 and taken his dumpy girlfriend Sarah out west, picking up a bottle of this in a border town along the way. In a nod to the age group of most of the protagonists, I’m mixing the Mezcal with good old fashioned Coca-Cola, something I’m sure the Newsies drank their share of back then. When watching Newsies, I recommend drinking a Barro Negro.

Barro Negro (From Tipsy Texan: Spirits and Cocktails from the Lone Star State)

1 ½ oz Mezcal

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

2 orange wedges

3 oz Coca-Cola (Mexican Coke if you can find it).

Pour Mezcal and bitters over ice in a glass. Squeeze the juice from the orange wedges into the glass, then drop them in. Top with Coca-Cola.


As you watch Newsies and sip your drink, feel free to laugh at all the digs at Brooklyn, which wasn’t always the hipster-mecca it is now. Back in 1899, Brooklyn was apparently a scary place full of teenagers with sling shots. Also, I can’t stop laughing when Christian Bale does his interpretive dance midway through singing Santa Fe. I say interpretive because I think he’s interpreting riding a horse with jazz hands, but it’s difficult to tell. This movie is just a classic. A classic what, I’m not sure, but definitely a classic. So drink up, dream of Santa Fe, and remember- “Headlines don’t sell papes- Newsies sell papes.” Cheers!