Oscartails 2020: If this year's Oscar nominees were cocktails
So here are nine cocktails, each representing one of the nominees in the running for the Academy Award for Best Picture at the 2020 Oscars. Also known as “Alcohol drinks for clever films”.
Last Man Standing (1917)
1tsp Lemon Juice
1tsp Sugar Syrup
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a sugar-rimmed shot glass.
For this cocktail, I wanted to create something reminiscent of that all important title/year. So this is a riff on a Sidecar, one of the cocktails popular in England and France at the time, but with a rum base as this is most likely what many on the frontline would have been sipping on during the First World War.
Of course, to really sell the explosive war-ness of the film, I had to use a rum that was smoked for that extra land mine flavour. And, of course, in keeping with the film’s central concept, my drink here is presented as a single shot.
I Heard You Paint Houses (The Irishman)
1/2oz Lemon Juice
1/3oz Chilli Liqueur
1/3oz Sugar Syrup
3 drops Orange Bitters
Method: Muddle the watermelon in the base of the shaker, then add the other ingredients and shake with ice. Fine strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a watermelon finger.
Sometimes with these drinks, I have to really reach for some tenuous link to create a cocktail from, and sometimes the film just hands me an easy option. In this case, it’s the latter thanks to a scene in which Frank and another lackey spike a watermelon with vodka so that they can secretly have booze during a meeting with teetotaller Jimmy Hoffa.
So there’s my inspiration: vodka, watermelon, and I added some chilli liqueur to represent the acting ‘heat’ of partnering De Niro and Pacino in a film together.
An Entirely Different Kind Of Life (Marriage Story)
3oz Apple Juice
1oz Light Rum
1/2oz Lime Juice
1/2oz Triple Sec
1/4oz Sugar Syrup
1oz Aged Rum
Method: Muddle the mint leaves and then shake with the next five ingredients with ice. Strain into a rocks glass (with rocks) and then float the aged rum on top.
It’s a film about a young, creative couple Charlie and Nicole (Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson) who start divorce proceedings and find their intentions to remain friends for the sake of their son eroded away by aggressive lawyers and legal proceedings. It’s often very funny, and incredibly charming, but more than anything it’s a poignant look at the demise of a loving relationship. And it’s much more entertaining and affecting and enjoyably emotional than that description suggests.
For the drink, I didn’t have much to go on, but I wanted a layered float to represent the central them of separation in the film. So here’s an aged rum sitting atop a light rum mix to show a difference split over time.
Of course, that all sounds really well thought through, but then I used apple juice as the main mixer to represent Charlie’s insistence that they are a “New York family” while Nicole wants to move to LA. The apple juice represents the Big Apple, y’see and... I don’t know.
Also, those are ice-cold whiskey stones at the bottom of the drink, because it seemed appropriate to serve this cocktail... on the rocks.
Ford GT40 (Le Mans '66)
1oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
1/3oz Yellow Chartreuse
2 dashes Orange Bitters
Method: Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with go faster stripe orange and lemon peels.
Luckily for me, there’s already a Ford cocktail that exists, so I decided to make a slight variation on that, using Noilly Prat and Yellow Chartreuse to give a little French theme, in keeping with this film’s major race.
Rick Dalton (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood)
3/4oz Triple Sec
3/4oz Blood Orange Juice
3/4oz Lime Juice
1/4oz Sugar Syrup
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a salt-rimmed glass. Garnish with a blood orange slice.
There are a lot cocktails seen throughout the film, including Bloody Marys and Mint Juleps, but I chose to focus on the Margaritas seen being enjoyed by Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate and friends at LA’s El Coyote just before the film’s climactic moments.
I used Mezcal for the base though, as this is drunk in an earlier movie scene in the film, and then I brought in blood orange too, to represent the impending danger of the Manson Family as well as Quentin Tarantino’s penchant for cinematic violence.
So, yes, this is a Blood Orange Mezcal Margarita.
Marching On (Little Women)
1/2oz Rose Liqueur
1/4oz Dry Vermouth
Method: Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a dried rose bud.
And I undermine all of that with this drink, which is based on the two most tangible elements of Little Women that I could easily bring into a cocktail: wine and picnics.
So Metaphorical (Parasite)
1oz Creme De Peche
Method: Build the drink in the glass and garnish with peach.
For this drink, I got hold of some Soju, a Korean spirit usually made from rice, wheat or barley, which is referenced in the song A Glass Of Soju, co-written by Bong Joon-ho, and which plays over the end credits.
Elsewhere, the only obvious ingredient inspiration came from one of the characters in the film having a severe allergic reaction to peach fuzz. So I combined Soju with peach and made it tall and fizzy.
Put On A Happy Face (Joker)
3/4oz Shiraz Red Wine
3/4oz Lemon Juice
1/3oz Popcorn Syrup
Method: Dry shake the whiskey, lemon juice, syrup and egg white and then add ice and shake again. Strain into a rocks glass and then float the red wine on top, making a red 'mouth' in the foam in the process. Then add drops of butterfly pea syrup for the eyes and add a maraschino cherry clown nose.
Whatever you think of the film, Joaquin Phoenix delivers a(nother) career-defining performance here, giving his Arthur Fleck a tragic fragility and a frightening unpredictability, which makes for an interesting role even if it is one that you can't quite imagining fighting Batman.
For the drink, I toyed with the idea at first of making a 'Joaquiri', but decided I would rather make something that reflects the Joker's colours a little better. I landed on a New York Sour riff because of the film's obvious New York style version of Gotham, with some circus flavour thrown in and a plan to create the clown mask as a garnish.
Scared Rabbit (Jojo Rabbit)
1/2oz Lemon Juice
1/3oz Cherry Kirsch
1/3oz Sugar Syrup
Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with lemon.
But, of course, none of that helps me with the challenge of creating a cocktail themed around a movie set in Nazi Germany. For example, I had to ditch my first couple of garnish ideas for fear of getting reported to Instagram. So instead, I kept things safe and simple and safe, so very safe, and just made a cocktail that leans into a couple of German ingredients.
Want to see more Oscartails? You can check out last year's creations here, which probably includes some films you forgot even existed.