When it comes to The Reader’s food issue, I have already licked my plate clean. Last year, I chose the best and worst in gloriously nonsensical categories, such as Best Movie With People as Food. The year prior, I put spaghetti in the bathtub with the top food-related movie moments. Therefore and thusly, it’s time to get thirsty up in this here film section!
Before I get to my top 10 movie cocktails that don’t involve Tom Cruise in a Hawaiian shirt chucking up things to make you upchuck, I have two recommendations. First, cinemasips.com is a delightful blog that humbly recommends drink recipes to pair with movies. For example, “The Smilex Surprise” combines grape vodka, grape Kool-Aid, lime juice and club soda for a perfectly purple complement to the Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman. Second, cocktailsofthemovies.com not only has drink recipes inspired by movie mentions, it also has gorgeous art prints. Nothing says “I love movies as much as I hate my liver” like art that has beautiful actors and actresses with cocktail names splashed on their faces.
Top 10 Movie Cocktails
10 – White Russian (The Big Lebowski)
Let’s just get this one out of the way, shall we? You can’t do a list like this and not put these first two entries on it. It should probably be higher up on this list but (A) Russia is a naughty land of election-interfering homophobes and (B) milk makes some people gassy.
9 – Martini (James Bond)
A list like this is kinda invalid if you don’t at least mention what is probably the most famous movie cocktail of all time. 007’s insistence that his martini be shaken and not stirred sounds cool but is actually kind of douchey, right? “Shaken” is 100% the standard. So this is like saying “I’ll take a water. In a glass, not thrown on the ground.” Thanks for clarifying, bro? Be sure to order something for your disposable plot device. Sorry, I meant “girlfriend.”
8 – Screwdriver (Jackie Brown)
Quentin Tarantino’s career has somehow survived a detailed report of the time he almost killed Uma Thurman, his repeated use of the N-word like he has KKK Tourette syndrome and the fact that he made The Hateful Eight on purpose. QT’s behaviors may leave a bad taste in one’s mouth, but watching Samuel L. Jackson’s Ordell Robbie consume his cocktail of choice in one of the actor’s most underrated and oft-forgotten performances does not.
7 – Orange Whips (Blues Brothers)
Fun fact: I had no idea what an orange whip actually was until like 10 minutes ago. All I knew of it was that watching John Candy’s detective Burton Mercer order “Three orange whips!” in Blues Brothers is hysterical for no concrete reason. Turns out, Candy improved that moment because of course he did. Drink one in honor of a fallen funny man, but be sure to pour some out and yell “This one’s for Candy!” first.
6 – French 75 (Casablanca)
Not-so-fun fact: This cocktail is the only item on this list named after an artillery gun! Featuring gin, lemon juice and champagne, this is the drink Rick (Humphrey Bogart) orders after his former lover shows up on the arm of a Nazi. I’m just saying, if it’s a drink you order to help you cope with Nazis, 2018 is about to see a resurgence of the French 75.
5 – Butterbeer (Harry Potter)
Honestly, if you had to deal with a noseless Ralph Fiennes and creepy fanboys lusting after Hermione, who they were introduced to as a literal child, you’d drink a lot too. That’s why seeing wizards slurpin’ suds in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince made more sense than the amount of quidditch that comprised the runtime.
4 – Sweet Vermouth on the Rocks with a Twist (Groundhog Day)
Technically, this is the most-ordered drink in film history, as Phil (Bill Murray) sees the same cocktail every day for no less than 8 years and no more than 10,000 years, depending on if you go by the script or nerds who calculated how long he’s stuck in a time loop.
3 – Chianti (Silence of the Lambs)
Mentioned but blissfully not shown, Anthony Hopkins became the first cannibal sommelier, pairing a particular internal organ with this now-infamous wine. To this day, if I hear someone order a chianti, I try to make myself look as unappetizing as possible around them.
2 – Cranberry Juice (The Departed)
Technically not a cocktail, but ordered in a bar in place of one, this drink leads to one of my favorite scenes in a Scorsese movie ever. Yes, it’s filled with gross toxic masculinity that presumes anything womanly is an insult, but it also shows Leonardo DiCaprio trying to look tough and a great punchline by Ray Winstone. Also, The Departed is Scorsese’s best film. Byeeee!
1 – Beer (Tons of Movies)
Just as all movie phone numbers start 555, in films you can walk up to a bartender and say “I’ll have a beer,” and they will pour you one. Nevermind that there’s obviously a full row of beers on tap and in bottles displayed behind them, a follow-up question like “What kind?” would earn an extra a SAG card and prevent future advertising sponsorships. So here’s to generic, non-label, nonspecific “beer,” the unsung hero of movie cocktails.