Sunday, February 26, 2017

Best Picture Oscar Nominees: A Cocktail Guide

There are a whopping nine - NINE!!! - nominees for the 2017 Academy Award for Best Motion Picture. I thought it might be fun to vote via cocktail for your favorite movie. With that in mind, here is the list of nominated films, along with a brief summary of each, and a suggested cocktail to enjoy during the ceremony, based on your vote for the Best Picture winner.

La La Land

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Original Music Score, Best Film Editing, Best Actor (Ryan Gosling), Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, Best Actress (Emma Stone), Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Director, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Mixing

Synopsis: An aspiring actress and a jazz pianist who wants to open his own club fall in love and support each other's career aspirations, at the expense of their own relationship. This musical pays homage to a number of classic movie musicals.

Cocktail: With its wonderful jazzy score and retro feel, I had to pair this film with a jazzy and retro cocktail, the Gin Rickey, said to be a favorite of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Combine 2 oz. gin and 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice in an ice-filled highball glass; top with seltzer or soda water. Garnish with lime.

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Director, Best Sound Editing, Best Writing Adapted Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing

Synopsis: A dozen alien spacecraft land on earth and a team of experts, led by a linguist, attempt to decode their language in order to understand why they're here and what they want, before the paranoia of some of earth's governments start a war.

Cocktail: It doesn't get much more exotic than aliens, so for this film, I suggest a Caipirinha, which requires a Brazilian liquor similar to rum, called cachaca (rum is made from boiled sugarcane juice, or molasses; cachaca is made from fresh sugarcane juice). Cut half a lime into wedges and muddle in an old-fashioned glass along with 2 teaspoons of sugar (or a generous splash of simple syrup). Fill the glass with ice and add 2 oz. of cachaca. Stir and garnish with lime.

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Writing Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Dev Patel), Best Cinematography, Best Supporting Actress (Nicole Kidman), Best Original Music Score

Synopsis: A young boy in Calcutta becomes lost and is eventually adopted by an Australian family. He returns to India as a young adult looking for his birth family.

Cocktail: Naturally, an Indian cocktail is appropriate, so I chose the Tamarind Margarita, a recipe from Tabla, a "New Indian" restaurant in New York. The only exotic ingredient needed is the tamarind paste, which is available in the international section of most grocery stores. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add 1-1/2 oz. tequila, 1 oz. triple sec, and 0.2 oz. tamarind paste, and shake until paste is dissolved. Add 2 oz. fresh lime juice, 1/2 oz. orange juice, and 1/2 oz. simple syrup. Shake well and pour into a salt-rimmed double rocks glass over ice. Garnish with lime.

Hell or High Water
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Jeff Bridges), Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing

Synopsis: A ex-con and his brother scheme to save their family's Texas ranch.

Cocktail: The Texas setting calls for a "manly" Texas cocktail, so pair this film with a Texas Whiskey Revival. Obviously, Texas whiskey is best, but I won't tell if you use something else. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add 3/4 oz. whiskey, 3/4 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur. 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice, and 1/4 oz. simple syrup and shake until well chilled. Strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with candied orange peel and a cherry.

Hidden Figures
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer), Best Writing Adapted Screenplay

Synopsis: The story of the team of African-American female mathematicians, known as "human computers", who worked at NASA during the early years of the US space program and had a key role in sending John Glenn into orbit - and bringing him safely home.

Cocktail: The film is set in the early 1960s, so I have to go with one of the most classic 60s cocktails, the Manhattan. Combine 2 oz. bourbon, 1 oz. sweet vermouth, and two dashes of Angostura bitters in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake well and serve in a chilled martini glass with a maraschino cherry garnish.

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Original Music Score, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), Best Writing Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris), Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Film Editing

Synopsis: The story of a young black man growing up in a rough neighborhood in Miami and trying to find his place in the world.

Cocktail: The most classic Miami cocktail has to be the Papa Doble (also called a Hemingway Daiquiri), so this is the cocktail to pair with Moonlight. In a cocktail shaker of ice, combine 4 oz. white rum, the juice of 2 limes, the juice of half a grapefruit, and and 6 drops of maraschino liqueur. Serve in a chilled martini glass garnished with lime.

Hacksaw Ridge
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Sound Editing, Best Actor (Andrew Garfield), Best Sound Mixing, Best Director, Best Film Editing

Synopsis: An army medic in World War II refuses to kill anyone, and becomes the first man in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor without firing a single shot.

Cocktail: The World Peace Cocktail. No explanation needed as to why. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add 1-1/2 oz. gin, 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice, a splash of St. Germaine, 2 drop blue Curacao, and 2 drops orgeat syrup (or almond extract). Shake well and serve over ice in a rocks glass with a lemon twist.

Manchester by the Sea
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Casey Affleck), Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Lucas Hedges), Best Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams)

Synopsis: A man is asked to take in his teenaged nephew when the boy's father dies.

Cocktail: I lived on Cape Ann for a number of years, and I can still smell the salt air. So the Salty Dog is the natural cocktail to pair with this film. Coat the rim of a cocktail glass with kosher salt, fill with ice, and add vodka (or gin) and grapefruit juice in a 2:3 ratio


Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actor (Denzel Washington), Best Supporting Actress (Viola Davis), Best Writing Adapted Screenplay

Synopsis: A working-class African-American father tries to raise his family in the 1950s, while coming to terms with the events of his life.

Cocktail: The film is set in Pittsburgh, so I checked out the cocktail menu of The Livermore in Pittsburgh, and the Redwood Spritz jumped out at me. It doesn't give a recipe, but based on a "standard" spritz and the listed ingredients, this is my version: Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add 3 parts bourbon, 1 part sweet vermouth, and 1 part fresh lemon juice, and shake well. Serve in a chilled martini glass and garnish with a sprig or two of fresh rosemary.

The red carpet coverage has begun, so I'm off to make myself a cocktail and start commenting on the fashions! Good luck to all the nominees!

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