Oscartails 2020: If this year's Oscar nominees were cocktails

Here's that thing that I've done two years previously so I guess it's an annual tradition now? Like a birthday or an anniversary, or World Diabetes Day.

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)

1/2oz Smoked Rum
1/4oz Cointreau
1tsp Lemon Juice
1tsp Sugar Syrup

Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a sugar-rimmed shot glass.
First up we have Sam Mendes’ epic World War I movie 1917, chronicling two British soldiers’ important mission as they travel miles across Northern France to warn an advancing regiment that they are walking into a German ambush. And it’s all presented as though - for the most part, at least - it has been filmed in a single take.

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)

8 cubes of Watermelon
2oz Vodka
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.
This one is for Martin Scorsese’s 3.5-hour Netflix epic The Irishman, which uses de-aging technology (and its extensive runtime) to explore the full life of mob hitman Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) in relation to his friendship with union leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). It’s an often tense, occasionally bloody, but otherwise quiet study of a man navigating personal and professional loyalties and conflicts, and it stars only the very best of IMDB.

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)

8-10 Mint Leaves
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.
This is one I created for Marriage Story, written and directed by Noah Baumbach and available to watch now on Netflix.

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)

2oz Old Tom Gin
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.
Next up is this one for Le Mans ‘66 (a.k.a. Ford v Ferrari). Directed by James Mangold, the film stars Christian Bale and Matt Damon as a racing partnership tasked with building a Ford race car that can defeat long-time winners Ferrari at the 24-hour Le Mans race in France. It’s a gripping, inspiring and entertaining sporting underdog story about men pushing down on pedals to make their vroom-vrooms go faster.

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)

1.5oz Mezcal
3/4oz Triple Sec
3/4oz Blood Orange Juice
3/4oz Lime Juice
1/4oz Campari
1/4oz Sugar Syrup

Method: Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a salt-rimmed glass. Garnish with a blood orange slice.
Here's one for Tarantino’s movie of revisionist Hollywood history starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. It’s a story about fading stardom at a point when the golden age of movie-making is on the brink of change... oh, and then there’s the matter of Charles Manson and his cult looming nearby too.

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)

2oz Dry Gin
1/2oz Rose Liqueur
1/2oz Chardonnay
1/4oz Dry Vermouth

Method: Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a dried rose bud.
This is for Greta Gerwig’s brilliant adaptation of the classic book Little Women. An incredible cast bring the March sisters to life in a film that explores themes of family and female independence during the early 1860s.

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 Soju
1oz Creme De Peche
Soda Water

Method: Build the drink in the glass and garnish with peach.
South Korean thriller Parasite by filmmaker Bong Joon-ho is a wickedly dark comedy drama, which has seen a huge amount of success on the awards circuit already. The story features a poor, working class family manipulating their way into the lives of a wealthy family... and then things take a sudden turn halfway through.

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)

1.5oz Bulleit Rye Whiskey
3/4oz Shiraz Red Wine
3/4oz Lemon Juice
1/3oz Popcorn Syrup
Egg White

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.
This origin story of the Clown Prince Of Crime is easily the most talked about film on the whole list this year, proving divisive among critics, pretty much universally loved by fans and probably secretly resented by every professional clown who is finding it harder and harder to get work these days.

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)

1oz Jagermeister
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.
Last one now - well done for making it this far. Taika Waititi's comedy drama about a Hitler Youth discovering that his mum is hiding a young Jewish girl from the authorities. Initially it seems like this is a quirky slapstick-style film with Waititi playing a wacky Adolf himself, but the film soon makes way for some serious emotional beats and a seriously impressive performance from Scarlett Johansson.

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.

Tags: Oscartails, Movie cocktails, Films, How to, Recipes

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