Drink like Mad Men
We watch the films that drink to cocktails’ health.
Maybe you won’t admit it, but it’s true – you are in love with Don Draper, the serial womaniser with the killer side parting, played by Jon Hamm in AMC’s hit TV series Mad Men.
It’s not just love – you want to be him, because that lucky man has it all. He is gifted, creative, gorgeous and mysterious. And he does it all so smoothly, despite going rough on cigarettes and scotch.
And it’s not just scotch either – he downs bourbon, rye and the occasional cocktail (and that’s just at the office), thus embodying the decadence, elegance and glamour of the 1950s and 60s.
Inspired by those thrilling decades, and even by the years in between the two World Wars, Mad Men nods at the kind of films where cocktail cabinets, tinkling ice and mixing drinks were not just part of the set but the epitome and rhythm of the high life. In the 1934 film The Thin Man, Nick Charles, played by William Powell, advices the barman on the fine art of shaking: “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.”
Then in The Seven Year Itch, as Marilyn Monroe dunks potato crisps in champagne, Tom Ewell tells her that, “I’m perfectly capable of fixing my own breakfast. As a matter of fact, I had two peanut butter sandwiches and two whisky sours.”
And who can forget Dean Martin’s memorable line in The Rat Pack: “The whole world is drunk and we’re just the cocktail of the moment.”
As an ode to that line, let’s open the drinks cabinet and see who drank what in which film.
Drinks flow in High Society, as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly drink champagne, Martinis and sherry through the whole film. Crosby also fixes a Stinger for Grace Kelly. This is an easy drink to mix – shake brandy, white crème de menthe and ice together and strain into a cocktail glass.
In Some Like It Hot, Marilyn Monroe pours whisky and sweet vermouth in a hot water bottle – although rudimentary, that’s effectively a Manhattan. To round it up, add a dash of Angostura bitters and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
We couldn’t not mention James Bond, the man who shook a thousand vodka martinis. It all started with the 1962 film Dr No, when Bond drinks two medium dry vodka martinis, shaken with lemon peel. Bond is a man who appreciates and respects a good drink – in Goldfinger, Bond, played by Sean Connery, says that, “There are some things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ‘53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit.” Respect.
7 & 7
Saturday Night Fever kicked off the disco decade – but not only. John Travolta also made the 7 & 7 cocktail popular on the dancefloor. Both sevens refer to the main ingredients of the drink – Seagram’s Seven Crown and 7-Up. You can also garnish with a lemon wedge, but that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll suddenly be blessed with killer dancing moves.
It doesn’t sound like a gangster’s drink, but that’s exactly what Fredo Corleone, played by John Cazale, drank in Godfather Part II. But then, both drink and mafia man are complex – a mix of sweet (banana), acidic (lime) and complex (rum). The drink also suited Michelle Pfeiffer, who drank a banana daiquiri in the 1996 film Up Close and Personal.
To make a banana daiquiri, blend rum, triple sec, one banana, lime juice and sugar together and serve in a champagne flute.
Mix tequila, Cointreau, lime, and lemon juice and you have the freshest of drinks. Ask Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights and Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding. And don’t forget the ritual of rubbing the rim with fresh lime and then dipping the rim into a saucer of sea salt.
So kitsch and yet so cool – just like Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski. Mix vodka, Kahlua and heavy cream and you can savour the big man’s drink. For a sexier version, try Halle Berry’s version of a White Russian in Catwoman.
The girls of Sex and the City put the Cosmopolitan back on the cocktail map. Mix vodka, Cointreau, lime juice, cranberry juice and a twist of lime zest for garnish and you’re a star.