5) Screwball & Cocktails

Even though it's been incredibly hot outside in New York, it is still a great time of year to drink delicious cocktails inside and curl up with the flickers of screwball comedies.


Movie: The Thin Man (1934) + Cocktail: Bronx = Exaltant Alcoholism

The Thin Man is one of my favorites; I make sure to watch it at least once a year. It's one of the best movies about (fun) drinking, with Nick Charles (William Powell) offering this advice for mixing cocktails: "The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to a foxtrot time, a Bronx to two-step time, but a dry martini you always shake to waltz time." Before I had ever actually tasted a cocktail, that line made the drinking universe more accessible to me: making nice drinks was all about having the right moves.

Former detective Nick and his wife Nora (Myrna Loy), easily the coolest married couple in film history, are visiting New York for the holidays when Nick is suddenly and begrudgingly pulled back into detective work to solve a case. Many more drinks follow to help Nick and Nora find the killer. I had never heard of a Bronx cocktail until I watched this movie, and now I always make one to accompany my yearly viewing.


Movie: Vivacious Lady (1938) + Cocktail: Dubonnet Cocktail = Deceptive Hysteria

What happens when a straight-laced professor and a nightclub singer secretly marry after one night? Screwball comedy antics, of course. Staid Botany professor Peter Morgan Jr. (James Stewart) goes to New York City to retrieve his wayward cousin (Keith Ellison), where he meets performer Francey (Ginger Rogers). They spend the evening wandering around the city together, and when morning comes, impulsively decide to elope. Their first marital hurdle is telling Peter's conservative family, and then finding a spot to spend their wedding night on the train home. Breaking the news to the parents and consummating their marriage each take much longer than expected, but luckily everything is swiftly cleared up by the end, back on the train. The lesser-known Dubonnet Cocktail is how I like my drinking with this movie: the clarity of the gin is a proxy for Stewart, and the bitters (a.k.a. Ginger Rogers) mixed in disrupt the coherence of the gin.


Movie: My Favorite Wife (1940) + Cocktail: Highball = Startling Polygamy

Directed by my man Leo McCarey, this polygamous slapstick film pairs Irene Dunne and Cary Grant together again as spouses. This time however, Dunne has been missing for seven years and is finally declared legally dead so Grant can marry his new lady. Of course, once he does marry again, Dunne reappears, very much alive, and still married to Grant (I suppose?). Talk about bad timing. This whole situation (or mess) is hilarious to watch unfold, but I imagine would be quite stressful for anyone personally involved. I would personally handle that stress by drinking multiple tall drinks, specifically Highballs. I have found that highballs can make me forget all of my nagging problems, and they're very quick and easy to mixm, allowing me to get back to my more precious 'drinking and forgetting' time. 


Movie: The Philadelphia Story (1940) + Cocktail: Ramos Fizz = Marital Ruckus

One of the greatest films of all time, this movie presents Katharine Hepburn with her biggest screen dilemma: choosing between Cary Grant or James Stewart. If only all of my problems were that handsome. Soon to be married Tracy Lord (Hepburn) has her nuptials complicated by the arrival of her ex-husband C.K. Dexter Haven (Grant) and a tabloid reporter (Stewart). Naturally, she finds herself torn. After spending the night before her wedding with Stewart, where he recites the most thoughtful speech on film, and right before she's supposed to walk down the aisle, she decides to run-off with her former husband. Since this movie is about a Philadelphia Maine Line, WASP wedding, I like drinking anything with gin, but I've found that the Ramos Fizz is one of the more opulent gin choices--the drink does include Orange Blossom Water, after all.


Movie: To Be or Not To Be (1942) + Cocktail: Sazerac = Comic Conflict

Who knew that evading the Nazi's could be so amusing. Or that Nazi's in general could be entertainment. Lavished with the eponymous 'Lubitsch' touch, this is one of the funniest movies ever made (I dare anyone to argue with me on that point), but it is a little bittersweet to watch it: this was Carole Lombard's last movie. Made right before her tragic death, and released afterward, it's a bit sad to watch someone so brilliant taken before their time *grabs tissues* Moving on from that tragedy, an acting troupe in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, led by husband and wife Josef Tura (Jack Benny) and Maria (Carole Lombard), use their abilities to trick the Nazi troops surrounding them, for the good of the war effort. Many other fantastic, funny moments occur. This is a must-watch film, and a Sazerac is a must-drink. Absinthe and rye whiskey are combined for a titillating experience: the whiskey warms me up, and the absinthe makes me daydream.

Side-note: I'm sure Hitler and the whole Nazi party hated that a Jew made a great movie that mocked them, which quite frankly makes me love this movie even more.


Have any of you ever seen the above movies? Or tried any of the cocktails I listed? Sound off in the comments below!