9 Iconic Cocktail & Movie Pairings

Here’s what to drink and watch tonight.

Sometimes, for a brief moment, the star of a movie or show isn’t a human actor or a dog who can play basketball. It’s a cocktail - and usually an alcoholic one.

If you’re looking for an activity that involves your couch and a cocktail shaker, we have a fun idea for you. Well, actually 9 ideas. Pick a cocktail and movie pairing, then go enjoy your interactive viewing and drinking experience.

Gibson & North by Northwest

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I’m honestly not sure why I like the movie North by Northwest so much. Maybe it’s the soundtrack, the speedy pace, or the lingering sense of dread - sort of like the camera is a voyeur - you get from pretty much any Hitchcock movie. Also, I like the way Cary Grant’s suit matches his hair. He plays the lead in this cross-country adventure film, and his go-to drink is a Gibson. When he orders one on a train sitting across from Eva Marie Saint, it arrives in an ornate glass with exactly one onion on a toothpick, and it appears to be slightly undersized, which means that Cary Grant will definitely be able to finish it before it gets warm. So shout out to the props department for this one. The Gibson in this movie looks fantastic, and you should drink one while you watch Cary Grant flee from a crop duster.

How to make a Gibson →

Sazerac & Girls Trip

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It’s disappointing to see people spreading misinformation about absinthe, and it happens more often than you think. Just look at Moulin Rouge or Get Him To The Greek. Both movies portray the bright green spirit as some kind of hallucinogenic - which isn’t actually the case. Another recent example is Girls Trip. In this (objectively enjoyable) movie, Tiffany Haddish’s character spikes everyone’s drinks with absinthe, then all of her friends start acting as if they’ve ingested LSD. I know that absinthe doesn’t work like that, but this movie still made me want to drink some. Rather than straight absinthe, however, I suggest a Sazerac. It has a trace amount of absinthe, and it was invented in New Orleans, which happens to be exactly where Girls Trip takes place.

How to make a Sazerac →

Vodka Stinger & Company

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When I hear the phrase “vodka stinger,” I think about Elaine Stritch. And other theater nerds out there probably do the same. That’s because there’s a song (“The Ladies Who Lunch”) in the musical Company which features the line: “Another vodka stinger!” Elaine Stritch performed this song in the original 1970 production of Company, and, if you’d like to see her in action, I recommend D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary about the making of the original cast album. Or, if you prefer spoofs, there’s an incredibly well-done Documentary Now! parody in which John Mulaney plays the Steven Sondheim character. I think you should watch both while drinking a vodka stinger. Once you’re done, it’s time to actually watch the musical. Check out the Tony-winning 2006 revival starring Raoul Esparza. That guy has pipes.

How to make a Vodka Stinger →

Vesper & James Bond

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You’ve probably heard the phrase “shaken, not stirred,” and you probably know where you heard it, too. This is James Bond’s catchphrase, and it’s singlehandedly responsible for countless subpar Martinis (because you really shouldn’t shake a Martini). There is, however, a Martini variation that you are supposed to shake, and it’s called a Vesper. Ian Fleming invented this drink in his very first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, and it’s what James drank before Martinis took hold. So if you want something “shaken, not stirred” while you watch 007 do a bunch of reckless things with UK taxpayer money, the Vesper is ideal. It’s cold, crisp, and extremely hard to mess up.

How to make a Vesper →

Aqua Velva & Zodiac

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Zodiac is about the hunt for a (real) serial killer in the ’70s and ’80s, and if there’s one drink that encapsulates that era for me, it’s the Aqua Velva. This is a bright blue cocktail garnished with a cherry and an umbrella, and I imagine it’s the sort of thing people drank before fancy cocktail bars were as plentiful as laundromats. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the lead in Zodiac, and his beverage of choice is - you guessed it - the Aqua Velva. One night, he’s drinking one of these cocktails when Robert Downey Jr.’s character shows up and says a few disparaging words about it. “You wouldn’t make fun of it if you tried it,” says Gyllenhaal. Shortly thereafter, the two consume a small mountain of Aqua Velvas. So I guess Jake was right.

How to make an Aqua Velva →

Old Fashioned & Mad Men / Crazy Stupid Love

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Who makes a better Old Fashioned: Jon Hamm in Mad Men or Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love? My first instinct would be to say Jon Hamm (because he strikes me as a more competent bartender), but if you actually review the scenes in which they make Old Fashioneds, Ryan’s looks a lot better. He keeps it simple and uses a nice big twist, whereas Hamm mixes his whiskey with soda water before dumping it into his glass, which is a cocktail maneuver I do not endorse. That said, Mad Men is technically better than Crazy Stupid Love, so I’ll leave this pairing up to you. Watch either, and drink an Old Fashioned.

How to make an Old Fashioned →

Whiskey Sour & Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

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Less than five minutes into Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, you see Leonardo DiCaprio’s character drinking a Whiskey Sour. The cocktail even gets a closeup - and it doesn’t look bad. Sure, it doesn’t look anything like the fancy Whiskey Sours with oversized ice cubes you find in cocktail bars today, but you have to remember that this movie is set in 1969. I’ve never been to 1969, but I imagine the Whiskey Sours looked just like the one in this movie. My one caveat is, Leo’s drink is garnished with a maraschino cherry, and I prefer an orange slice.

How to make a Whiskey Sour →

Fight Milk & It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

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The thing about Fight Milk is, it’ll make you strong like a crow. At least that’s what Charlie Day says in season 12, episode 7 of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. This whole “strong as a crow” line of reasoning doesn’t really make sense, but it’s a good marketing ploy in that it distracts you from what Fight Milk - an alcoholic beverage marketed to bodyguards - actually is. If you’re wondering, it’s milk, crow eggs, and vodka. Obviously, this sounds not-great, which is why I’ve come up with my own recipe for Fight Milk. It’s still milk-based, but now the milk is infused with cereal, and there’s a bit of peanut butter for protein as well. In other words, my Fight Milk will make you strong like a crow. Whatever that means.

How to make Fight Milk →

Mojito & Volver

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Volver is about a lot of things, such as life, death, wounds, healing, and motherhood. But it’s also, briefly, about cocktails. Mojitos make an appearance at a dinner party during which Penélope Cruz sings the titular song (not her real voice, but still a great scene), and they look absolutely delicious. That being said, the mojitos in this movie are blended, and we prefer to build them straight in the glass. Buy some mint, make a few of these drinks, and enjoy this vibrant film in which the camera glides and lingers as if it’s trying to be gentle with everyone on screen. This is some of Pedro Almodóvar’s best work, and that’s saying something.

How to make a Mojito →

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