Check out what drinks go with your all-time favorite drinking films.
In 1916, Charlie Chaplin stumbled home soused in the short film One A.M. and spent the next 30 minutes drunkenly trying to make it into his bed. Audiences loved it, and this was the drinking movie born. Here are the ones we watch when we’re sipping our favorite libations.
DRINK WHILE WATCHING: The Thin Man. You can’t make a reputable list of drinking movies without this 1934 caper from the Dashiell Hammett novel. Sleuthing spouses Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) are constantly cocked as they solve a murder mystery. The movie is full of time-tested wisdom like this from detective Nick, delivered as he shakes up some of the film’s plentiful martinis: “The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now, a manhattan you shake to fox-trot time, a bronx to two-step time. A dry martini you always shake to waltz time.”
NECESSARY EQUIPMENT: Gin, vermouth, ice, a shaker, cocktail glasses and bags of style.
OR SHAKE UP: MASH (1970). Martinis from the jerrybuilt still in Hawkeye’s tent always make us thirsty.
DRINK WHILE WATCHING: The Big Lebowski, the 1998 Coen brothers ode to slack and bowling that made the white russian cool again. The Dude (Jeff Bridges) is seldom without a glass (or a joint) as he seeks retribution for the defiling of a rug that “really tied the room together, man.” Becostumed superfans (a.k.a. achievers) gather annually for Lebowski Fest. This year it’s May 7 and 8, in Los Angeles (lebowskifest.com).
NECESSARY EQUIPMENT: Two ounces of vodka, one ounce of Kahlúa and one ounce of half and half on the rocks. Use nondairy creamer instead and it’s called a caucasian. Sip yours every time someone says “dude.”
MORE VODKA, PLEASE: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) reminds us what an underrated goddess Karen Allen is as she drinks a giant goon under the table in Nepal and out-sloshes a Frenchman in Egypt.
SAKE AND WINE
DRINK WHILE WATCHING: Drunken Master (1978), the lighthearted kung-fu classic in which incorrigible troublemaker Freddie Wong (played by a young Jackie Chan) is taken under the wing of a homeless dipsomaniac master who, after brutalizing him with a torturous training regimen, teaches him the secret style of zui quan, which is “easier to master after you’ve had a drink.” High jinks ensue. Go for the jaw-dropping slapstick martial arts (all of which are done by the actual actors), stay for the horrendous dubbing.
NECESSARY EQUIPMENT: They’re probably drinking baijiu (it’s China), but sake’s pretty close, and we like it better. Try Tenzan or Kurosawa.
PREFER A RED? Sideways (2004) and Bottle Shock (2008) prove the impossible: Movies about wine nerds can be excellent fun.
DRINK WHILE WATCHING: Casablanca (1942), the most romantic movie ever made. In a flashback to their salad days, Humphrey Bogart’s Rick serves a champagne cocktail to the woman of his dreams (Ingrid Bergman’s Ilsa) and deadpans, “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
NECESSARY EQUIPMENT: Try the 1995 Henriot Cuvée des Enchanteleurs. It’ll be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
OR UNCORK: High Society (1956), with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra vying for Grace Kelly while Louis Armstrong plays the Cole Porter soundtrack.
DRINK WHILE WATCHING: Where the Buffalo Roam (1980), a scattered mess of a film redeemed by Bill Murray’s virtuoso performance as the brilliant, if addled, Hunter S. Thompson as he half stumbles, half dances his way across the country in search of the American dream. It never gets weird enough for him. We’re grateful.
NECESSARY EQUIPMENT: Six grapefruits, a bottle of Chivas, a bottle of Wild Turkey, a hunting knife and your attorney.
OR CRACK INTO: Deadwood (2004) for the Bulleit bourbon poured in most scenes, Lost in Translation (2003) for relaxing times or The Bank Dick (1940) for the heavyweight champion of drunken actors, W.C. Fields.
DRINK WHILE WATCHING: Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia(1974), the best piano-player-turned-hit-man movie ever. Fueled by a giant jug of booze in 1970s Mexico, Warren Oates becomes a desperado with an itchy trigger finger in order to recover the head of a deceased gigolo.
NECESSARY EQUIPMENT: A bottle of great, affordable tequila. We recommend Patrón, Milagro or Cabo Wabo. Make it blanco, baby.
OR TAKE A SHOT OF: Caddyshack (1980), for its unforgettable scene of Chevy Chase and Lacey Underall doing lines and tossing back Cuervo.
DRINK WHILE WATCHING: The original college party flick, National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978). Today delta punch is a generic term for frat-house jungle juice strong enough to get everyone Blutarskied but fruity enough that girls will partake.
NECESSARY EQUIPMENT: Mix to these time-tested proportions: one part sour (lime juice), two parts sweet (simple syrup), three parts strong (rum) and four parts weak (ice and juice). Serve in a (new) trash can.
OR LADLE UP SOME: Eggnog, as Chevy Chase does before his climactic tirade in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989). Technically it’s not punch, but since it’s served in a bowl we’ll count it.
DRINK WHILE WATCHING: The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew (1983). Like Molson Golden, it’s cheap, it’s Canadian, and it goes down easy. Rick Moranis launched his film career with this bizarre tale of two boozed-up brothers who will do anything for free beer.
NECESSARY EQUIPMENT: A case of Molson. A toque.
ALSO ON TAP: Add a raw egg to your beer and you have Paul Newman’s breakfast in The Verdict (1982). Add bourbon and you’re Walter Matthau as coach “Boilermaker” in The Bad News Bears (1976).
ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING
DRINK WHILE WATCHING: The one and only Arthur (1981). Packed with A-list stars (Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, Sir John Gielgud), crackling comic dialogue and rivers of high-end booze, this is the movie that puts a happy face on alcoholism (we never even see Arthur Bach hungover) and seems to imply that not only can a man make the right choices about life-altering matters when blind drunk but that sometimes it actually helps. Plus, in one moment of clarity and pathos Arthur distills drinking as an avocation down to its core: “Not all of us who drink are poets. Some of us drink because we’re not poets.”
NECESSARY EQUIPMENT: The contents of a medium-size liquor store, a steel liver, plenty of friends, no regrets.
YOU’LL ALSO WANT TO SUCK DOWN: Old School (2003), for the force of nature that is Frank the Tank.