Artwork: 7&7 / Saturday Night Fever, 1977 Tony Manero John Travolta © Stacey Marsh.
Somewhere in the world right now, cocktails are being mixed, shaken, and stirred, poured, sipped, or guzzled in record time. The pleasures of the mixed drink, with its delicious flavors and sneaky blends, can engulf you in a sea of pleasure—until one drink too many and the good times end. But for those who drink responsibly, the joys of liquor can be your friend.
Hollywood loves a good vice. Remember all those steamy shots of cigarettes being lit, of smoke floating seductively across the silver screen? It was a beautiful thing—’til it went out of style. While some films have romanticized heavy drugs, they’ve never really flown in the mainstream being far too hedonistic for the Puritanical strains that influence the tastes of the viewing public. But liquor has always been embraced—even through Prohibition.
Perhaps it is because the cocktail represents the individualist tradition of the United States, the ways in which we are guided from birth in the pursuit of happiness. We can be as simple to please as a six pack of beer, or we can be as complex and compelling as a Mai Tai. The singularity of the cocktail, it’s taste and its buzz, is mirrored by the characters that drink them and the image they present to the world.
Cocktails of the Movies by Will Francis and Stacey Marsh (Prestel) celebrates our love for drinking in style. The book presents a selection of some of the most memorable film characters and their choice of drinks, along with a snappy lil’ synopsis of their life in drink. Along with a great illustration that will get you in the mood, the book presents easy-to-follow recipes that you can gladly try at home, as well as a history of the drink.
From The Dude’s White Russian, which he enjoys in The Big Lebowski and the Sweet Vermouth on the Rocks with a Twist that Phil Connors cleverly orders for Rita in Groundhog Day to the Mississippi Punch that Holly Golightly serves in that swinging party in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to the French 76 Rick Blain drinks until he can forget in Casablanca, the book is a marvelous stroll down memory lane, as the band plays on.
Cocktails of the Movies will get you in the mood, not just to get your gimlet, daquiri, or dirty martini on, but to also kick back and watch some great films. The book serves up a Bronx, drank by Nick Charles in The Thin Man, which calls to mind the power of that phenomenally lush couple to serve up the joys of getting smashed just one year after Prohibition was written off the books.
As Nick explains, the drink does more than taste good; it provides everything you need to get you in the mood: “The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a dry martini you always shake to waltz time.”
While the fox-trot might be a thing of the past, there’s nothing like a good cocktail to get the party started. Bottoms up (in more ways than one)!
Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Whitewall, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Jocks and Nerds, and L’Oeil de la Photographie. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.