Episode 070 - Iconic Movie Cocktails

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What’s shakin, cocktail fans?

Welcome back to another episode of The Modern Bar Cart Podcast!

This time around, we’re examining the role of cocktails in some of the most iconic 20th century films. Specifically, we discuss Casablanca (French 75), The Big Lebowski (White Russian), and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Singapore Sling).

Our guide through the movie world is Eric Holtzman, a DC-based movie buff and friend of the podcast. He is a wealth of knowledge on both movies and cocktails.

Casablanca

The film Casablanca (1942) is revered as one of the cinematic gems produced by classic Hollywood. Starring Humphrey Bogart (Rick Blaine) and Ingrid Bergman (Ilsa Lund), it portrays the reunion of two past lovers cast against the sociopolitical tension of a world about to erupt in war. Casablanca, a Moroccan port city, is the home of Rick’s Cafe, where the majority of the film takes place.

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The featured cocktail in this movie is the French 75, which was invented in Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. Its name is a reference to the French 75mm field guns that were a staple artillery piece in World War I.

French 75 Recipe

To make a French 75 cocktail, you’ll need:

  • 1 oz Gin

  • 1 oz Simple Syrup

  • 3/4 oz Lemon Juice

  • 3 oz Champagne

  • Lemon Twist

Stir up the Gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice over ice, strain into a Champagne flute, then top up with Champagne and enjoy.

The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski (1998) is an iconic stoner flick starring Jeff Bridges as “The Dude,” alongside his friends Walter (John Goodman) and Donnie (Steve Buschemi), portrays a farcical attempt to resolve a bizarre and violent mistaken identity crisis. Bridges’ chararcter shares a name with a LA millionaire who is involved in some questionable exploits, and he is unwillingly swept up in a plot that involves, inappropriate urination, kidnapping, East German thugs, and a whole lot of recreational drug usage.

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The cocktail that steals the show in this film is the White Russian. “The Dude” is constantly pouring them for himself (sloppily, without measuring) throughout the movie, and as a result it becomes a master signifier for the whole movie, alongside The Dude’s urine-soaked Persian rug.

White Russian Recipe

To make a White Russian cocktail, you’ll need:

Combine all ingredient in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake thoroughly, then pour the entire cocktail (with ice) into a rocks glass and enjoy. Pretty much any chocolate or coffee liqueur can be used effectively in place of Kahlua in this recipe.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) is an adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s quasi-biographical novel of the same name. If The Big Lebowski is a drug-fueled romp, then this film is completely off the charts—an acid trip of epic proportions.

 A Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, where it was invented.

A Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, where it was invented.

Johnny Depp plays the main character (Raoul Duke), alongside Benicio Del Toro (Dr. Gonzo) and Tobey Maguire (a hitchhiker). The movie begins in a convertible en route to cover a race in Las Vegas. Later on, a flashback reveals that the entire escapade was kicked off while Duke and Gonzo were enjoying Singapore Slings (with mezcal on the side) at a patio bar in LA.

The Singapore Sling

To make a Singapore Sling, you’ll need:

  • 1 oz. London dry gin

  • 1 oz. Bols Cherry brandy or Cherry Heering

  • 1 oz. Bénédictine

  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice

  • 2 oz. soda water

  • 1 dash Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake well, pour the drink (with ice) into a highball glass, and garnish with fruit and/or mint.

This is a complex cocktail, and there is almost no agreement on its proper formulation. In this way, it presages certain iconic tiki drinks (like the Mai Tai). It was invented at the Raffle’s Hotel in Singapre in the early 20th century. Other common ingredients in different formulations of the Singapore Sling often include Pineapple juice, curacao, and grenadine.