Nominations for The Oscars were announced last week and I’ve seen all but one of the Best Picture nominees. I’m not sure if that’s awesome or pathetic. Perhaps the jury is still out regarding the awesomeness of that, but what isn’t in question is my love for cocktails, and in this case themed cocktails, which I’m by no means above.
As I found out last year, in my first year in Los Angeles, award parties, such as Oscar parties, are a thing in L.A. Naturally then, I threw my first impromptu Oscar party with themed cocktails, bracket challenges, and all. I live in Hollywood after all. So this year it only seemed appropriate that I would put together a more appropriate movie- and Oscar-inspired cocktail menu. Below you’ll find some of the most popular movie-inspired cocktails, as well as some award season cocktails I curated from other writers and bartenders.
There may not be another cocktail that’s garnered the fame and attention from movies and books like the Vesper has. Because if it’s good enough for James Bond, then it’s good enough for the rest of us. The story goes that James Bond creator Ian Fleming invented this martini, but with the help of bartenders from the Dukes Hotel in London, where the classic line “shaken, not stirred” is also said to have originated at. The drink first appears in Casino Royale, published in 1953 (and later also mentioned in the movie, as seen above), when Bond instructs the bartender to make a martini measuring three parts Gordon’s gin, one part vodka, and one-half part Kina Lillet (Lillet Blanc). He later names it Vesper, after agent Vesper Lynd. But be forewarned, this is no everyday martini, since it’s made completely out of booze.
- 3 oz. gin
- 1 oz. vodka
- .5 ounce Lillet Blanc
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
The French 75 has celebration written all over it, since the main ingredient is champagne. However, it’s found itself on the big screen for ages. However, none more important than the classic 1940s film Casablanca, where Yvonne orders a number of rounds of French 75, which ironically enough, was named after the 75-millimeter M1897, a French artillery weapon that fired off rounds on the front lines of World War I. Though often served with gin, traditional recipes call for cognac, since it is French after all. The following recipe naturally comes from Arnaud’s French 75 bar in New Orleans.
- 1.5 oz. cognac
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp. simple syrup
- 2.75 oz. champagne
Add all of the ingredients (except champagne) to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake long enough to chill and pour into a frosted champagne glass. Top with champagne and add a lemon twist.
Now fast-forward decades later to a more modern-day pop culture reference, the Cosmopolitan (or Cosmo), which no one has drank more of on screen then Carrie Bradshaw. That’s right ladies, I just made a Sex and The City reference (bring on the spammy comments). However, a couple years before Carrie was ordering it on the small and big screen, it was Dale DeGroff, known as “King Cocktail,” who was bringing the drink back in style. Adapting the Cosmopolitan from the original recipe that dates back to 1900s, DeGroff used his signature flamed orange peel garnish to bring out the Cointreau. However, DeGroff credits Madonna, and not Carrie Bradshaw, as a couple years prior to Sex and The City, Madonna was seen (and photographed by the paparazzi) throwing back Cosmopolitans at the Rainbow Room, where DeGroff was head bartender.
- 1.5 oz. vodka
- .5 oz. Cointreau
- 1 oz. cranberry juice
- .25 oz. fresh lime juice
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a flamed orange peel.
While many of the movie-inspired cocktails here are prominent from one specific movie, the Singapore Sling has popularity that’s more far reaching, featuring in a variety of different movies, including Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Tom Cruise’s Cocktail, and the cult (and disturbing) film by the same name, Singapore Sling. Though many cocktail recipes have many different stories about where they’ve originated, the Singapore Sling has largely been attributed to Ngiam Tong Boon, a bartender at the Raffles Hotel Singapore. The recipe as it stands today is based off notes from then. And yes, there really are that many ingredients.
- 2 oz. gin
- 1 oz. Cherry Heering
- .5 oz. Bénédictine
- .5 oz. Cointreau
- 2 oz. fresh pineapple juice
- .5 oz. fresh lime juice
- Few dashes of grenadine
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- Club soda
Add all ingredients (except the club soda) to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into an ice-filled glass. Top with club soda and garnish with an orange peel, cherry, and mint.
Rye in the Foxcatcher
No elaborate Hollywood story steeped in history here. The Rye in the Foxcatcher is a recent drink I had at the Four Seasons Los Angeles Hotel, which is buzzing around award season, and does an award season cocktail menu every winter based off movies from the past year. While there were a number of movie-themed cocktails on their menu, this one was far and away the best, very reminiscent of one of my favorite cocktails, the New York Sour. It’s your everyday whiskey sour but with a little wine float on top that upgrades the flavor profile.
- 2 oz. rye whiskey
- .75 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 1 oz. honey simple syrup
- Egg white of one egg
- 2 dashes of angostura bitters
- Foxen Pinot Noir
Add all of the ingredients (except the Pinot Noir) to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a ice-filled glass. Top with a Foxen Pinot Noir float. Do this by holding a spoon upside down over the glass, just above the surface of the drink, and pour in the wine slowly over the spoon so that it creates the float.
This Oscars-themed cocktail recipe comes from one of my favorite new foodie websites, Salt & Wind, founded by food expert, Aida Mollenkamp. The red carpet and bubbles go hand-in-hand this time of year and I like how Aid took that into consideration. She uses seasonal ingredients, which as Aida puts it, “as bright red as the red carpet yet balanced enough that it can pair with a variety of finger foods.” Check out more of Aida’s recipes on Salt & Wind and follow along on Twitter and Instagram for some serious eye candy.
- 2 cups cold water
- 1/2 cup unrefined cane sugar
- Peel (with pith) from 4 blood oranges
- 2 vanilla beans
- 3/4 cup blood orange juice
- 3/4 cup blood orange juice
- .5 oz. chilled spiced blood orange base
- .5 oz. Pama pomegranate liqueur
- 4 oz. bottle chilled brut Champagne or sparkling wine
- Dash orange bitters
- Blood orange twist for garnish
For the blood orange base: Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar, diced blood orange peel, vanilla, and clove until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool off and steep for 1 hour. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, discard solids, add blood orange juice and refrigerate until cold.
For one cocktail: Fill a chilled champagne flute halfway with ice water and let sit 30 seconds until chilled. Discard ice water then add 1/2 ounce each blood orange base and Pama pomegranate liqueur to the bottom of the flute. Top with 4 ounces chilled Champagne, add a dash of bitters, then garnish with a twist and serve.
You guys, it’s bubbles plus whiskey. That sound you hear are peoples’ minds being blown around the world. The notion of adding prosecco and whiskey together to call it a cocktail seems a bit like adding fruit and cake together to call it dessert. But hear me out here. Continuing with the bubbly theme, this recipe comes from Diana Novak, National Craft Spirits Educator, with what I like to call a B.A. (Bad Assery) in cocktails. She uses Bastille whiskey, which interestingly enough is a rare French whiskey (I’ve written about the virtues of French single malt whiskey, Brenne, in Drink Me Magazine). It’s aged five to seven years in a combination of Limousin oak, cherry wood, and acacia casks, making it a very smooth and drinkable whiskey, and thus great for cocktails. Take the sweetness of this whiskey and combine it with the dry qualities of prosecco and you have a balanced cocktail.
- 1.5 oz. Bastille whiskey
- .5 tsp. brown sugar
- 1 dash orange bitters
- 1 lemon peel
- 3 oz. ice-cold Lunetta Prosecco
This is one of the easier, yet most interesting cocktails from this list. Add all of the ingredients to a champagne flute and garnish with a lemon peel.
For cocktails on the lighter (and easier to make) side, This Girl Walks Into a Bar features three different vodka cocktails for an Oscar party.