• 11.-13. October 2021
  • Exhibition Centre Berlin

29 June 2021, by Peter Eichhorn

What Hollywood Film Stars Drink

What is the drink that symbolises James Bond films? One thing is certain: it is not the martini. An exploration of film history in a glass. 

 

We have been waiting and waiting for a new James bond film. It will be the last one starring Daniel Craig, who enters retirement with a nice shot of rum in ‘No Time to Die’ on Jamaica. His famous code name was transferred to Lashana Lynch, but that is certainly for no more than one film. People are still trying to figure out who the next 007 will actually be. The film was originally slated to enter cinemas in October 2019, but this was delayed when a new director took over the project. The next projected date for the premiere, April 2020, fell victim to the coronavirus, and the same fate befell the hoped-for release dates in November 2020 and March 2021 as well. Now they are hoping to launch the film by 8 October 2021 – unless, that is, MGM’s new owner Amazon suddenly decides to release the film through a streaming service. Who wouldn't want to drink to this occasion? James Bond would, obviously, but so too would the author behind the whole series, Ian Fleming.

 

Drinking habits of agents and villains

The authors of the book ‘Shaken. Drinking with James Bond & Ian Fleming’ actually studied the books to find out more about the drinking habits of the agents and villains. Anyone who thinks that a martini – shaken, not stirred – came out in first place is mistaken. The results of their painstaking research: champagne was drunk 121 times. Whisky came in second, at 77. Vodka and gin were neck and neck at 37 and 33 respectively, followed by rum, which appeared in 11 glasses. Beer is not mentioned in these novels at all, and it was not to be seen until 2012, when Bond opted for a product from the film's advertising partner Heineken in the ‘Skyfall’ film.

 

Yes, the 2021 film year is going to be an unusual one. It was not until April that the Oscars, the Golden Globes and the Berlinale’s Golden Bears were presented. There are more cinema awards scheduled for autumn.

The Golden Raspberry Foundation presented their dreaded ‘Golden Raspberry’ awards for 2021 for year’s worst cinematic ‘achievements’, and ‘365 Days’ and ‘The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle’ were the biggest winners. There was even a special prize for the worst calendar year of all time: 2020.

 

Cinema and cocktails – proven classics

A stroll through cinema history offers an excellent illustration of just how closely the silver shaker is tied to the silver screen.

When Greta Garbo spoke her first line in a talkie, ‘Anna Christie’, it was “Gimme a whiskey, ginger ale on the side, and don't be stingy, baby.” In 1939, ‘Gone With the Wind’ made Planter’s Punch popular once again, while ‘Casablanca’ (1942) offers cinema buffs a film that takes place almost entirely in a bar. It was in ‘Rick’s Café Américain’ that Richard ‘Rick’ Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) uttered the famous lament: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” When Major Heinrich Strasser asks Rick: “What is your nationality?”, he responds “I'm a drunkard”, prompting Police Captain Louis Renault to grin and say: “That makes Rick a citizen of the world.”

 

“All right. Will you bring me five more Martinis, Leo?”

Even today, the ability of Nick and Nora to knock back drinks in “The Thin Man” detective series never cease to amaze. There is a striking scene where Nora sits down for a drink, and when the waiter brings their glasses she asks her husband: “How many drinks have you had?” His response: “This will make six Martinis.” Nora: “All right. Will you bring me five more Martinis, Leo?”

Ambitious drinkers can learn quite a bit from these films. Bartenders as well. As Nick explains to the barman: “Now a Manhattan you shake to foxtrot time, a Bronx to two-step time, but a dry martini you always shake to waltz time.”

 

Bartending as a show

A Manhattan has probably never been prepared in a sexier manner than it was in 1959 in ‘Some Like It Hot’, when a flask falls out of the Sugar ‘Kane’ Kowalczyk’s (Marilyn Monroe) garter. The film begins in Prohibition-era Chicago in 1929 where two musicians played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon become eye-witnesses to a mafia massacre and are then hunted down by ‘Spats’ Colombo and his gang. Disguised as women, they end up joining Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators, an all-female band. During their sleeper-car journey to Florida, these thirsty ladies end up getting together in compartment 7. In no time, half a bottle of whiskey and some vermouth are found, and a hot water bottle is repurposed as a shaker. Thanks to the assistance of a cymbal and jazz brush, they manage to break up the ice for their drinks, only to discover that there are no maraschino cherries to be found. An important instruction can be heard from off camera: “Hey, easy on the vermouth!”

 

 

Drama and drinks – the latest twists

In the modern era, stranger concoctions are being drunk. In 1971, the Korova Milk Bar enjoyed a moment in the spotlight in ‘A Clockwork Orange’. It is here that Alex DeLarge and his gang of ‘droogs’ sipped their special ‘Moloko Plus’ drinks, presumably a sort of absinthe-milk highball.

 

Today, the 1998 film ‘Cocktail’ has the strange air of a historical re-enactment when the bartenders around Tom Cruise throw their shakers in the air and serve guests their drinks with silly umbrellas. More serious moments are accompanied by a Brandy Flip. What impact might this film have had on people's image of a bartender’s job? Regardless of the answer, this is one of the most illustrious winners of a Golden Raspberry to ever appear in a VCR.

 

The Dude’s favourite drink

The White Russian owes its comeback to the ‘Big Lebowski’. Directly in the film's opening scene, the Dude meets the audience for the first time as he shuffles through the supermarket in his unique combination of bathrobe, sunglasses and sandals, gathering the ingredients for his favourite drink. It is while pursuing his second hobby, bowling, that Lebowski orders this drink that is also referred to as the ‘Caucasian’.

 

The ‘Sex and the City’ series ended up being the unexpected vehicle for the comeback of a drink that dates back to the 1930s. In the cinematic version in 2008, this group of women gets back together for the occasion of Samantha’s (Kim Cattrall) birthday. Enjoying a Cosmopolitan, Samantha asked: “Why did we ever stop drinking these?” Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) responded: “Because everyone else started!”

 

An so we continue drinking our way through the (cinema) year 2021, toasting Oscars and Golden Raspberries and looking forward to 007, perhaps while enjoying a ‘Vesper’. And in doing so, we never lose sight of that philosophical statement in ‘Thunderball’: “I’d rather die of drink than of thirst.”