On Sunday, the 85th Annual Academy Awards will roll out the red carpet at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, televising all the glitz, glamour and A-List celebs to millions of homes around the world. Strangely, our invite was lost in the mail, leaving the evening free to enjoy the awards with friends over some Oscar-inspired cocktails. Below are four recipes, each with a nod to a film up for an award. Enjoy.
Firday Happy Hour: Beast It!
The shining stars of Beasts of the Southern Wild were by far two first-time actors: Quventhané Wallis, who played Hushpuppy and was 6 years old at the time of filming (she is 9 now), and Dwight Henry, who played Wink, Hushpuppy’s father. All the love is going to the adorable young girl who delivered a powerful performance well beyond her years and experience—and deservedly so: Wallis is the youngest person ever nominated for best actress in a leading role. Yet Henry’s story is just as impressive.
Before being tapped as a lead in the film, Henry was the baker and owner of New Orleans’ Buttermilk Drop Bakery and Café. On screen, he plays a gruff but loving ailing father with a drinking problem who tries to impart confidence and life lessons to his young daughter before his passing. At times, he is erratic, abusive and delinquent—a child’s services case study—but he was also warm and caring, a loving father through and through. So for this cocktail, we’re raising a glass to the baker-turned-thespian with a drink straight out of the Bathtub, courtesy of a New Orleans original, Southern Comfort. “Beast It!”
- 1 ½ oz. Southern Comfort
- 2 tsp. simple syrup
- 2 orange slices
- 2 maraschino cherries
- 2 dashes Tabasco
In a rocks glass, muddle one orange, one cherry and simple syrup. Add Southern Comfort and Tabasco; stir, fill with cracked ice. Garnish with remaining orange slice and cherry.
Image and recipe courtesy of Southern Comfort.
Saturday's Team of Rivals
Nominated for 12 Academy Awards, including all the biggies (best picture, directing and best actor), Lincoln is the preeminent heavyweight in this year’s Oscars. But coming up with a cocktail to salute this film, which portrays one of the most famous teetotalers in our country’s history, is rather difficult. Below, we offer up two sips—one a nonalcoholic drink in respect of old Honest Abe; the other a nod to his able and gregarious secretary of state, William H. Seward, who was known to imbibe now and then.
The Rail Splitter
- 2 tsp. simple syrup
- ½ oz. lemon juice
- Ginger ale
In a highball glass, add lemon juice and simple syrup. Add ginger ale (about 6 oz.) and stir lightly. Top with crushed ice.
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The Alaska Cocktail
In 1867, Seward—then secretary of state to President Andrew Johnson—was instrumental in the Alaska purchase, an outcropping of frozen land way off the northwest. Largely seen as folly to his contemporaries, Seward had the last laugh: There were gold, oil and minerals under those frozen lands. Short of heading to the Last Frontier, we’ll drink to Seward and the forty-ninth state with the Alaska Cocktail—which, consequently, has nothing to do with the state or Seward but does carry the name.
In a mixing glass filled with ice, add gin, Yellow Chartreuse and bitters. Stir until cold—glacier cold, like Alaska. Strain into a cocktail glass with a lemon twist, rubbed on the rim of the glass.
The 3:1 ration makes for a sweeter drink, especially when using a more botanical gin (see below). For a huskier sip, use a 4:1 ration (2 oz. of gin), but be carful—this makes for a strong drink, with Chartreuse weighing in at 80 proof.
*There are two trains of thought when it comes to the Alaska Cocktail and gin: dry vs. botanical. Hendrick’s is a small-batch distiller in Scotland that makes a fine base for this drink, with a unique infusion of rose petals and cucumber adding to the complexity of a rather simple cocktail. For the traditionalist, a London Dry like Beefeater is the way to go. The bitters will make up for any loss in flavor from the gin.
Sunday Funday Just Got Unchained
Say what you may about Quentin Tarantino’s films and his liberal use of gore and offensive language, but it does not change the fact that they are quite entertaining movies. His latest, Django Unchained, which is up for five Academy Awards, embraces all of the traditional Tarantino tropes. The movie features a few familiar faces, including Samuel L. Jackson and Christopher Waltz (who's up for best actor in a supporting role, which he won in 2009 for another Tarantino movie, Inglourious Basterds) as well as new ones like Leonardo DeCaprio and Jamie Foxx.
We are straying from Django’s themes for this cocktail—revenge and mayhem don’t make good bedfellows with alcohol—but touch on one commonality that flows through all of Tarantino’s films: blood. The Blood Orange Ginger Cosmo may not gel with the grisliness of the movie, but it does fit the award ceremony and its famed red carpet. Enjoy.
Blood Orange Ginger Cosmo
- 1½ oz. vodka
- 1½ oz. Grand Marnier
- 1 oz. fresh squeezed blood orange juice
- ¾ tsp. freshly grated ginger
Place ginger in a chilled cocktail glass. In a cocktail tin filled with ice, combine vodka, Grand Marnier and blood orange juice. Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a blood orange wheel.
Recipe courtesy of the blog Martha Moments.
Bonus Drink: Don't Go Chasing Volcanoes
This tour de force is up for three Academy Awards, all in acting categories, and may very well land Joaquin Phoenix the Oscar for best actor in a leading role as well as some golden trophies for costars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams.
The Master, for all intents and purposes, is a loose biopic tale of L. Ron Hubbard, science fiction writer and founder of the Church of Scientology. A drama in every sense of the meaning, there are not so many lighthearted moments to raise a glass. So in light of the film and its loose affiliation with Scientology, this cocktail is inspired by Xenu, the dictator of Galactic Confederacy. As the story goes, Xenu brought billions of his followers to Earth 75 million years ago and subsequently killed them around volcanoes. The spacy spirits of these fallen interstellar travelers—thetans—are said to afflict modern-day humanoids inhabiting the third rock from the sun.
To show a unified rejection of Xenu and his diabolic Galactic Federation as well as support for The Master, we’re offering up a tropical, volcano-themed sip, the Flaming Volcano. It's perfect for a tiki-themed Oscar party.
Serves 2 or more
- 1 oz. light rum
- 1 oz. brandy
- 1 oz. over-proof rum (Bacardi 151)
- 4 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice
- 2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 oz. almond syrup
- 2 cups crushed ice
Mix all ingredients except ice in a large bowl and stir. In a blender, add ice and blend. In a volcano bowl (a must for this drink, available at Amazon), add the booze mixture and ice. Pour an extra shot of Bacardi 151 in the volcano center and light it up. Serve with large, 15-inch straws to prevent head injury or the miscellaneous lock from catching fire.
If you would like to nominate a cocktail recipe to appear in our latest series "Weekend Cocktails," email the online editor here.
Tools of the Trade
Become a master mixologist, or at least look like one, with the tools that make the trade.
- Muddler: This little tenderizing stick is a godsend and a must for any home bar. If fruity cocktails are in your future, the muddler is the only way to unlock fruits’ flavor.
- Handheld Citrus Juicer: Nothing beats freshly squeezed juice, but it can be a pain. Invest in a handheld citrus juicer; they are cheap and do the trick tout de suite.
- Cocktail Shaker: Don’t be a chump stirring your martini like a noob; purchase a nice shaker and become a master home barkeep.
- Jigger: This little apparati will make mixing the perfect drink as easy as pie. It's equipped with 1½ oz. and ¾ oz. cups for perfectly measured pours every time.
*Pictured available at Williams-Sonoma