THE 7 BEST DRINKING SCENES FROM THE MOVIES
Ahead of the Oscars on February 28th, we thought we’d host our very own set of film awards (just without the celebrity attendees. And the alleged $200,000 gift bag. And the golden statues…)
Instead we celebrate the coming together of great actors, and great drinks, putting our pick of the most cinematic tipples in the spotlight…
Of course, no list of the best drinking scenes in the movies would be complete without a nod to James Bond. There isn’t a Bond movie where he doesn’t enjoy some form of alcoholic beverage – from the iconic “shaken, not stirred” martini through to the finest Dom Perignon Champagne.
Likewise, and we make no apologies for this inclusion, Cocktail is the finest (ok, yes, finest and only) bartender film ever made. Tom Cruise’s Brian Flanagan is cheesy, arrogant and not really very good, but his recital of The Last Barman Poet is so so bad, it’s actually amazing.
NUMBER 7: SEX & THE CITY
& THE COSMOPOLITAN
Another terrible, terrible movie, Sex & the City makes the list because it firmly cemented the Cosmopolitan cocktail into the classic cocktail 'Hall of Fame'. The two come hand in hand: the Cosmo mix of equal parts vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and fresh lime, symbolises not only the Sex & the City series, but that entire, sweet late 90s era in New York.
This is referenced in the 2002 film adaptation when Miranda asks why they all stopped drinking Cosmos, to which Carrie replies "because everyone else started." This final scene toasts (albeit in a rather cringe-worthy manner) to “oldies but goodies” which the Cosmo cocktail most certainly is.
NUMBER 6: WITHNAIL & I
& ALL THE WINE
Declaring we want “the finest wines available to humanity, and we want them here, and we want them now” this cult eighties classic is steeped in alcohol and even boasts its own drinking game where viewers (read: students) match Withnail drink for drink.
Bearing in mind that Withnail drinks (amongst other things) 5 glasses of wine (and 7 swigs of wine from the bottle); 5 glasses of sherry (and 2 swigs from the bottle); a pint of cider with ice (an idea Magners brought to life/copied as a stroke of marketing genius in 2005); a large gin; a gin and mixer; 4 large Scotchs, 2 small Scotchs (and 4 swigs from a Scotch bottle); and of course, Ronsonol lighter fluid (if you can call that a drink?) - we therefore strongly recommend that you really DON’T try it at home…
NUMBER 5: SOME LIKE IT HOT
& THE MANHATTAN
The impromptu party in cross-dressing comedy Some Like it Hot sees Marilyn Monroe take on DIY cocktail making at its best. Bourbon, sweet vermouth and bitters are poured into an improvised cocktail shaker (a hot water bottle) in the top bunk of an overnight train to mix up Manhattans. The only thing missing were the maraschino cherries…
NUMBER 4: OUR MAN IN HAVANA
The chessboard sequence from Our Man in Havana, where the pieces are substituted for miniature bottles of whisky and bourbon is a compelling piece of cinema.
Set in a 1950s Cuba fought over by the Cold War superpowers, the game is an excellent metaphor of the power struggle going on around the players. The rules are simple: every time a player captures a piece, he drinks it. As the two men become increasingly intoxicated, each realises the paradox he confronts: the better he plays, the drunker he gets, diminishing his chance of winning… A profound, and very clever scene.
NUMBER 3: CASABLANCA
The romantic World War II noir starring Humphrey Bogart as Rick, a broken-hearted bar owner in Morocco is packed with many an excellent drink scene. “Of all the gin joints in all the towns, in all the world...” is arguably the most famous liquor-soaked scene in Hollywood history.
Similarly, the French 75 ordered by a Nazi soldier for Rick’s discarded girlfriend Yvonne, shortly before Rick’s was shutdown, is also iconic. But it’s Humphrey Bogart’s joyful Champagne toast to Ingrid Bergman, that is then repeated on a foggy Moroccan airfield that is one of the greatest goodbye scenes ever and one of the greatest movie quotes.
NUMBER 2: THE BIG LEBOWSKI
& THE WHITE RUSSIAN
The White Russian (or Caucasian) cocktail is a key part of the Dude’s identity. In fact, it would be hard to imagine him in The Big Lebowski sipping anything else. As with the Cosmopolitan and Sex & the City, the White Russian (made with equal parts vodka, coffee liqueur and cream or milk poured over ice) owes its resurgence to this Coen Brothers’ cult classic.
In most scenes, The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges, is either mixing one up or sipping one; in total he consumes nine during the film. But the most iconic scene is when he’s manhandled into the back of a limo, careful to not spill even a drop of his precious cocktail. The line “Careful man, there’s a beverage here!” sums up the character’s priorities to a T.
NUMBER 1: ICE COLD IN ALEX
“I’m going to tell you something right now, Tom. It will be a sort of peace offering. Do you know the next drink I’m going to have? A beer, Tom. A bloody great, tall, ice-cold glass of Rheingold in that little bar off Mahoment Ali Square in Alex… and I’ll buy you one, all of you one, because I’m bloody well going to get you there.”
In this 1958 tale of survival, beer is hope. Beer is the metaphor for the ultimate reward - the light at the end of the tunnel. For this reason, the final scene, in which John Mills' character finally gets his glass of ice cold lager, wins our best movie drinking scene accolade.
The scene is a closing comment: as the four travellers drink together, they affirm their solidarity despite their differences of national loyalty, class and gender - all over a much-awaited, longed-for, ice cold drink.
Which is certainly something we can drink to.