Starry Spirits

By Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi

Culture would not be the same without the cocktail. James Bond would hardly be sexy if he downed OJ. Mad Men showed us that real media men did not drink milk at meetings. And the Sex and The City girls did not match couture with Coca-Cola.

A drink's popularity rises when a contemporary celluloid character is knocking it back. In early 2006, The Sunday Times writer John Harlow reported , "Oscar winner knocks sales of merlot wine sideways". He was referring to the character played by Paul Giamatti, the movie's hero and wine snob, who loathed merlot and adored pinot noir. In three months after the movie's release, pinot sales surged 16 per cent in the US.

Similarly, the martini got its place in the sun with cinema's most famous spy.

Cocktails on screen are almost as old as the movies. In 1912, a scene in the first movie that Charlie Chaplin wrote and directed himself, The Idle Class, shows an unhappy husband making himself a cocktail, armed with a shaker at a bar. The film is only 32 minutes long, and this loaded scene, which gets about a minute of the movie, is better seen than explained. (Skip ahead to the last two minutes of this video here)

Cinema seems to prefer cocktails, wine, or quirky ways of drinking spirits. For every Marilyn Monroe  dunking potato chips in her Champagne in Some Like it Hot, there is a Shrek who glugs Eyeball Martinis (Shrek Forever After, human-appropriate recipe here). Just like the rest of us, but with more glamour, actors have celebrated, relaxed with, and wept into their drinks.

One of my most fun ways to spend an evening home with friends is getting a movie and fixing a batch of whatever the characters are enjoying. For a spirited starry evening, here are two classic, and two contemporary cocktails associated with films. Choose either your favorite tipple, or your most-loved character and shake up the bar. Rent the DVD and make yourself a drink.

Movie Casino Royale Drink The Vesper

The exact recipe concocted by Bond in this movie asks for 3oz Gordon's Gin, 1oz grain vodka, 1/2oz Kina Lillet aperitif to be shaken with ice in a cocktail shaker and then poured into a champagne flute. Garnish with lemon curl.

Movie Casablanca Drink Champagne cocktail

Humphrey Bogart offers this to Ingrid Bergman during their happier days.

Place a sugar cube in a champagne glass and soak with two dashes of Angostura bitters. Gently layer in 2/3oz cognac, then top up the glass with champagne. Garnish with an orange slice and a Maraschino cherry.

Movie Valentine's Day Drink Mint Julep

You don't need to be a mint-julep-chugging tobacco king to enjoy this Derby special. In Valentine's Day, Anne Hathaway who plays a secretary moonlighting as an adult-call operator says one of these will help her wind down after a difficult call.

Place five or six mint leaves in a chilled silver beaker. Add one teaspoon sugar and muddle a bit. Pack glass with cracked ice. Pour three to four ounces of Kentucky bourbon over the ice. Stir briskly until the glass frosts. Top with a sprig of mint for more aroma.

Movie Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde Drink Sangria

This drink makes the Reese Witherspoon movie funnier.

In a pitcher, dissolve 1/4 cup sugar in a cup of water. Add at least one thinly sliced orange and one thinly sliced lime, plus a full bottle of robust red wine or slightly acidic rose wine. A good amount of other finely chopped fruit - apple, strawberries, sweet grapefruit can be added too. Toss in a dozen ice cubes. Stir. Add six oz of sparkling water. When serving, ladle fruit into each glass and then pour the punch over it.