Cocktails and movies go together like Fred and Ginger: dazzling and not just a little bit heady. In fact, as reported here in November, on-screen cocktails have been a source of sipping inspiration long before The Dude made White Russians cool again, or Humphrey and Ingrid tossed back Champagne cocktails in "Casablanca" -- immortalizing the famous line: “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
“One of my favorite cocktail references is the early scene in 'The Thin Man' [four-time Academy Award winner of 1934]," says Robert Simonson, drinks columnist for The New York Times and author of the upcoming The Old Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes and Lore (Ten Speed Press). "We meet detective Nick Charles, and he instructed the bartender at a swank joint which dance rhythm to use when shaking which drink. A Waltz for a Martini, for example.”
This year's Oscar nominees offer plenty of cocktail inspiration. "American Hustle," about con artists set in New Jersey in the late 1970s, screams out for something retro, while "Gravity," about a rookie astronaut (played by Sandra Bullock) stranded in space, calls for something out of this world.
You might want something sweet to soften the hard edges of Best Actor nominee Matthew McConaughey in the AIDS drama "Dallas Buyers Club," where it's all hard drinking in the "Wolf of Wall Street,"about the rise and fall of a New York stockbroker, played by Leondaro DiCaprio. And of course, elegance is called for when cheering on Dame Judi Dench and her quest to find her child in "Philomena."
While the stars may knock back a bit of the hard stuff to quell their Oscar nerves before stepping out on the red carpet, you shouldn’t be left out on all the glamour at home. We checked in with some of the country’s best bartenders to see what inspired sippers they’re mixing up for the 2014 Academy Awards – and how you can make them at home.
1. American Hustle
Created by Don Lee, this "American Hustle"-inspired sipper -- aptly called the Counterfeit Cola – is on the menu at New York’s Golden Cadillac, a place that pays homage to the retro 70's. The Counterfeit Cola, which is a carbonated cocktail, is served in a popular bottled form. Lee makes his own barrel-aged Galliano – the golden-hued Italian liqueur that became wildly popular in the 60s and 70s, famed for being the prime ingredient in a Harvey Wallbanger. (Can’t you just see Jennifer Lawrence nipping at a bottle hidden beneath the toaster cozy?) But you can use it in its straight form to great effect, too.
While Sandra Bullock’s ease of acting can oftentimes appear effortless, the notion of drifting in space sounds like a pretty horrible reality. But with 10 Oscar nominations under its belt, "Gravity" appears to be floating on an award season high. The bar at Newport, R.I’s 100-plus year old Vanderbilt Grace hotel created this drink to make you feel light as air while toasting to Bullock, George Clooney, and their astro-comrades.
3. Dallas Buyer’s Club
Matthew McConaughey’s transformation, both physically and as an actor with surprising chops, made the Academy take notice. Inspired by his intense role as a homophobic, HIV-infected macho rodeo guy-turned-pharmaceutical entrepreneur, Boston’s Towne Stove and Spirits – who are boasting an entire nominee list of cocktails– came up with this nod to McConaughey’s emaciated star turn.
4. The Wolf of Wall Street
Molecular Mixology’s Rob Floyd of Los Angeles came up with this tribute to the whiskey-laden, high-octane chutzpah of Scorsese’s stockbroker shenanigans.
Powerhouse actress Dame Judi Dench can grip an audience, whether she's portraying M in recent James Bond flicks or a mother who gave her child up for adoption, only to find him years later in "Philomena." Towne Stove and Spirits aptly believed that England's unofficially official national spirit would make an excellent base for this nod to the multi-talented Dench.