Hollywood’s Iconic Cocktails

“Sex and the City” created a Cosmo craze. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and his “Mad Men” colleagues single-handedly brought the “cool” back to old standards from the 50s and 60s, like the Whisky Sour, the Vodka Gimlet, the Manhattan, and—of course—the Old Fashioned. In the recent Netflix hit, “The Queen’s Gambit,” Beth (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her mother make quick and constant work of numerous Gibson Martinis; that show made Gibson Martinis cool again while somehow simultaneously making chess cool again.

Hollywood (television and movies) has a great impact on our popular culture, and it’s always fun to trace the origins of some of our most enduring fads and trends back to their sources. Here are 10 Hollywood movies that featured at least one specific notable cocktail—in some cases, the movie spawned a renaissance for the drink, in others, the booze was central in some way to our understanding of the main character. Many times, the cocktail did both.

There are, of course, many films that highlight iconic cocktails, but these 10 are some of our favorites.

Casablanca: Everybody drinks all the time at Rick’s Café Americain, but we’re especially captivated by the French 75, the cocktail ordered by Yvonne (Madeline Lebeau). This elegant-looking beverage is comprised of gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and champagne. Here’s how to make it:

French 75

  • 1½ ounces gin
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • 3 ounces champagne/sparkling rosé
  • Lemon peel

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake well, then strain into the flute. Top with sparkling rosé and stir. Twist lemon peel gently over the top of the glass to express essential oils. Garnish with peel.

Daniel Craig as James Bond drinking a Vesper Martini

Casino Royale:

In this classic Bond movie, 007 (Daniel Craig) introduced audiences to the now iconic Vesper Martini, named for love interest and double-agent, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). This cocktail is notable for two reasons: It combines vodka and gin and substitutes Lillet for vermouth.

Vesper Martini

  • 2 ounces gin (94 proof)
  • ⅔ ounce vodka
  • ⅓ Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a large, thin lemon peel.

The Big Lebowski
: Who can forget “The Dude” (Jeff Bridges) slurping his tasty beverage in his bathrobe, getting cream on his ‘stash? The White Russian—never given the full respect of a “proper” cocktail—is, of course, the perfect drink for main character Jeff Lebowski.

White Russian

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. Kahlua
  • 1 oz. half & half

Mix all ingredients in a rocks glass with ice.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
: Hollywood lore has it that Hunter S. Thompson’s favorite order at the bar was a Singapore Sling with a shooter of mezcal on the side. Throughout the movie, Thompson (Johnny Depp) slurps down countless cocktails, consuming them in between a wide variety of other mind-altering substances. In the serious cocktail world, the Singapore Sling is considered to be a bit of an over-the-top drink, but, then again, it fits the main character perfectly.

Singapore Sling

  • 1 1/2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce Bénédictine Liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce cherry liqueur
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces club soda
  • Lemon slice, for garnish
  • Maraschino cherry, for garnish

Mix gin, Benedictine, cherry liqueur, lime, and simple syrup in a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a highball glass with fresh ice, top with club soda, and garnish with lemon and cherry.

Jackie Brown
: In Quentin Tarantino’s throwback salute to the early days of 1970s Hollywood, when African-American actors were just beginning to play title roles, Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) makes it clear to everyone that Screwdrivers are his cocktail of choice: “Why don’t you be a good hostess, and hook a brother up a screwdriver?”

Classic Screwdriver

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 4-6 oz. orange juice

Mix vodka and orange juice in a highball glass with ice.

: In this dark film, Robert Graysmith’s (Jake Gyllenhaal’s) geeky beverage of choice is the Aqua Velva, which—like Thompson’s Singapore Sling—is super sweet, silly strong, and sure to get you plastered. Aqua Velva, for those readers younger than 40 or so, was an electric-blue aftershave most popular in the 1960s, though it’s still made today. During its heyday, the product’s tagline was ubiquitous: “There’s something about an Aqua Velva Man.”

Aqua Velva

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz blue curaçao
  • 1 bar spoon of grenadine
  • ½ oz citrus juice
  • 1 oz club soda
  • Orange slice
  • Maraschino cherry

Shake vodka, gin, curaçao, grenadine, and citrus juice together in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a hurricane glass filled with fresh ice and top with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry on a toothpick. Cocktail umbrellas are optional.

Godfather Part II
: “How do you say ‘banana daiquiri’ in Spanish?” That’s Fredo’s (John Cazale’s) question while sitting in an outdoor Cuban café with his brother Michael (Al Pacino). The drink doesn’t play a large part in the movie, but this scene—with Fredo’s lame drink order mirroring his inability to “man up” like the rest of his family—makes for one of the film’s most memorable scenes.

Banana Daiquiri

  • 1 oz white rum
  • 1 oz dark rum
  • ¾ oz banana liqueur
  • 1 bar spoon rich demerara syrup
  • ¾ oz lime juice
  • Spoonful fresh whipped cream, optional
  • Maraschino cherries, optional

Blend ingredients with ice in a blender until smooth. Pour into a coupe, daiquiri, or poco grande glass and top with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry or two (optional).

About Schmidt
: Who drinks vodka gimlets? Well, in this film, it’s a quirky out-of-step character with a penchant for old, out-of-date things. That’s the core of Alexander Payne’s character, Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson), who navigates his world while ordering his exceptionally unhip gimlets.

Vodka Gimlet

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • .5 oz. lime cordial

Shake ingredients in a shaker over ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lime twist or peel.

Some Like It Hot
: In one of the most memorable scenes of Billy Wilder’s 1959 comedy, showgirl Sugar Cane (Marilyn Monroe) whips up a batch of Manhattans in a hot water bottle while riding in a sleeper car. Once mixed, she shares them with her fellow performer friends Josephine (Tony Curtis) and Daphne (Jack Lemmon).


  • 2 oz. bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Mix ingredients in a rocks glass (or hot water bottle) with one large cube and garnish with a cherry.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s
: Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) is a force of nature in this classic Blake Edwards movie. An aspiring socialite with a keen need to drink her way into New York City’s elite circles, Holly’s favorite high-octane cocktail—Mississippi Punch—harkens back to her supposed backwoods roots. Not only is this a punch, it PACKS a punch as well.

Mississippi Punch

  • 2 oz. cognac
  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • 1⁄2 oz.  lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 oz. dark rum

Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker and pour into a highball glass with ice. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

Inspired by all these movies, we’re going to spend the next few months experimenting with our own unique riffs on these iconic cocktails. For the recipes that require vodka, we’ll be substituting equal amounts of Batch 22. In other recipes, we’ll be using Batch instead of rum, gin, or cutting the bourbon or rye with Batch.  When they’re ready, we’ll pour our cocktails and get comfortable in front of the flatscreen so we can sip along while we watch these classic movies and be charmed by them all over again. Cheers!

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