Spend A Night At Rick's Bar: How To Pair Classic Cocktails With Classic Movies

There are some nights, particularly in the winter months, when you just can't muster the energy to go out. The walk to the cinema seems too far, the idea of fighting for a position at the bar seems daunting. The alternative is to stay in and watch terrible television shows and order take-out — an activity I am pretty sure everyone is very familiar with. But let me suggest the idea of watching a classic movie with a hero who knows how to drink well. From Bond's vesper martini (which is just one of dozens he consumed throughout his career as a secret agent) to the French 75's sipped at Rick's Bar in Casablanca, Hollywood has created some of the most famous drinking moments. Here are a few more.

The Thin Man and the Gin Martini

After Prohibition, a new age of cocktail culture emerged from the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood hills. Fueled by the extravagance of the stars of Hollywood's golden age and a new attitude towards drinking, a cocktail revolution was created. One film in particular celebrated this moment. Almost immediately after Prohibition was repealed The Thin Man hit the silver screen and audiences delighted in watching Nick & Nora drink copious martinis that were shaken to rhythm...

"The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you always shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a dry martini you always shake to waltz time." From The Thin Man.

The Gin Martini

3 oz Fords Gin

A dash of dry vermouth

A dash of orange bitters

Shake to your favorite tune, strain into a "Nick and Nora" Glass and garnish with a lemon twist

Casablanca and the French 75

Humphrey Bogart plays Rick Blaine, the coolest bar owner in classic film history (sorry, Tom Cruise). At Ricks Café Americain, guests drank champagne in a multitude of ways, including in this cocktail.

French 75

1 ½ oz Plymouth gin

½ oz fresh lemon

2 barspoons simple syrup

Shake well with ice. Strain into ice-filled highball glass. Top with champagne.

It's A Wonderful Life and Mulled Wine

The perfect movie when you need a feel good moment on a cold day. Mulled wine, which is ordered by Clarence the Angel, is a good thing to drink as you watch. "Hey buddy, we serve real drinks here to real men and we don't need some character coming in here trying to class up the joint." This is the bartender's response when George (James Stewart) orders a double bourbon and Clarence the Angel orders a Flaming Rum Punch, which he then switches to mulled wine heavy on the cinnamon.

Mulled Wine

1 bottle of half decent red wine

5 spoons of honey

5 cardamom pods

1 cinnamon stick

Ground nutmeg & ginger

Lemon & orange slices

2 teaspoons of Grand Marnier

The peel of one orange embedded with cloves

Simmer in a sauce pan for 20 minutes and serve.

All About Eve and the Gibson Martini

Bette Davis sips on a Gibson cocktail and says the famous line, "Fasten your seat belts. It's gonna be a bumpy night." It's a classic drinking quote from the classic movie. All About Eve was released in 1950 and nominated for 12 Oscars. An all-time classic.

Gibson Martini

2 oz. Beefeater Gin

½ oz. Dry Vermouth

Stir gin and vermouth with ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a pearl onion.

The Big Lebowski and the White Russian

This Coen Brothers film is a cult classic, with the iconic Dude played by Jeff Bridges. The Dude has a signature drink, which he drinks all the way through the movie (nine times to be precise), which is paired with great quotes like "Careful, man, there's a beverage here." The White Russian cocktail is a 1950's throwback that you should place on your list of guilty pleasures if you like it. It actually makes a half-decent digestive because of the coffee flavor and cream.

The White Russian

1 ½ oz Russian vodka

¾ oz Kahlua Especial

¾ oz Light cream

Build ingredients over ice into a rocks glass, pouring the cream last so it sits on top of the Kahlua and Vodka. Garnish with a cherry.

Withnail and I and wine (or gin, sherry, whisky....)

Withnail and I is considered a cult movie in the UK, but I find that not as many people know this film in the States. It contains one of my favorite movie quotes of all time, one that I have used many times: "I want the finest wines known to humanity and I want them now." Richard E. Grant plays the lead character, Withnail, and the film follows two unemployed actors on a mission to seek solace in as much drink as possible. Their consumption throughout the story is legendary, even in the U.K., which is saying something in itself. It has also taken the role of drinking game for students who try and follow the actors drink-for-drin throughout the course of the film's 107-minute run time.

Previous Simon Ford columns: