Everyone has a favourite drink that they like to order at the bar. Yours might be a Gin & Tonic, Vodka Cranberry or White Wine Spritzer. Cocktails, of course, are a bit more interesting than a simple pint of beer or a glass of wine, which is perhaps why a signature drink is often used by film directors to add depth to a protagonist whose favourite tipple it is.
There are literally hundreds of drinks that key film characters have ordered through the years of film history, and many cocktails have seen their popularity surge as a result of the movie in which they featured.
If this is a subject you want to go research in more depth, you should read this Illustrated Guide to Cinematic Mixology. As a little taster, we’ve collated 5 examples of iconic cocktails from the movies.
Let’s start with what must surely be the most famous cocktail in the world of feature films. Everyone knows that James Bond always orders a Vodka Martini – shaken, not stirred, obviously. It’s not an especially difficult cocktail to make.
Throw a few ice cubes into a cocktail shaker and add a generous measure of good quality vodka along with a teaspoon of dry vermouth. Shake it until it is cold, then pour into a cocktail glass. To garnish, peel a strip of zest from a lemon and twist it, then drop it into the drink. All you need now is a vintage Aston Martin and a Licence to Kill!
Interestingly, in Casino Royale, Bond went back to his first love (as per Ian Fleming’s book) and ordered a classic Vesper: ‘Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet.’
The epitome of feminine sassiness, the Cosmo will forever remind us of the 1990s hit Sex And The City. The story sees main character Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, and her group of girlfriends sip their way through countless cocktails in bars across the five boroughs of New York City.
The drink is a feminine but not too girly mixture of equal measure of vodka, orange liqueur (e.g. Cointreau or Triple Sec) and cranberry juice, with a dash of fresh lime juice. Put all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake well, then strain into a classic, chilled Martini glass and decorate with a flamed orange twist. Originally, citrus vodka was used to make a true Cosmopolitan.
The Coen Brothers’ cult film The Big Lebowski (1998) features Jeff Bridges as The Dude (aka ‘His Dudeness, Duder or El Duderino’) whose staple slacker drink is a White Russian, sometimes called a Caucasian Cocktail. The recipe calls for 2 oz vodka, 1 oz coffee liqueur (Kahlua or Tia Maria) and 1 oz light cream or milk, served in an old fashioned glass over ice. Not that The Dude is too precious about precise measurements, or indeed about the dairy ingredient used – at one point in the film, he uses a powdered non-dairy creamer!
Named after an anti-Bolshevik group from the times of the Russian Civil War, the White Russian was popular in the late 1970s after which it was largely forgotten about until The Dude rekindled interest in it.
Billy Wilder’s classic 1959 slapstick cross-dressing comedy caper Some Like It Hot stars Marilyn Monroe as Sugar Kane, lead vocalist in an all-female jazz band. Together with fellow musicians Joe/Josephine (Tony Curtis) and Jerry/Daphne (Jack Lemmon), there’s a memorable scene where they mix Manhattan Cocktails in a hot water bottle on a train.
More traditionally, a Manhattan is made with bourbon or rye whiskey (2 oz) and sweet vermouth (1 oz) and 2 dashes of Angostura bitters, stirred together in a mixing glass for 30 seconds with ice, or shaken in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a Martini glass and garnish with a Maraschino cherry on top and serve.