Oscar cocktails story

The Tampa Tribune, February 25, 2011
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Drink a toast to the Oscars

Open your liquor cabinet and grab your swizzle sticks for a liquid salute to the Academy Awards

The Tampa Tribune

It happens every year, not unlike tax returns, your mother-in-law’s birthday and your prostate exam. The Oscars, Hollywood’s annual orgy of shameless self-congratulation, hits the stage Sunday to bestow its honors upon a suspecting industry — and its honorees’ apropos-of-nothing political asides on an increasingly fatigued television audience.

In the end, it feels like little more than a predictable preamble to the posh after-show parties. Why let the big-screen bigwigs and silicone starlets have all the fun? If nothing else, the 83rd Academy Awards offers an outstanding excuse to host your own soiree.

You have to do it right, though. Tinseltown is about nothing if not glamour, so leftover beer and wings from your Super Bowl bash simply won’t do.

To help glitz up your Oscar get-together, we enlisted Dean Hurst, vice president of the Left Coast Bartenders Guild, to prepare a drink list for the occasion.

Here, we offer a cocktail recipe to go with each of the 10 nominees for Best Picture. There were no gimmes this year (e.g., a White Russian for “The Big Lebowski” or a vodka martini for any Bond film), so we were forced to exercise a little creative license. (Oh, if only Hollywood would do the same.)

So let’s go ahead and wrap this up (before they cue the music) with the silver screen’s most famous toast: “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

“True Grit”: Blood and Sand

Popularly linked with the allegedly eponymous 1922 bullfighter movie, this classic cocktail is equally appropriate for the Coen brothers’ Western about a pioneer girl in search of her father’s killer. It’s dusky, dirty and delicious.

¾ oz. Blended Scotch
¾ oz. Cherry Heering
¾ oz. Sweet Vermouth
¾ oz. Fresh orange juice
Shake and strain into a coupe glass.

“127 Hours”: Corpse Reviver No. 2

It’s a harrowing story of a mountain climber who makes an extreme sacrifice to escape certain death. He probably could’ve used a couple of these himself before doing the deed.

¾ oz. Gin
¾ oz. Yellow Chartreuse
¾ oz. Lillet Blanc
¾ oz. Fresh lemon juice
Shake and strain into a coupe glass, or martini, rinsed with absinthe.

“The Social Network”: Harvard Dropout

We put our own little twist on the classic Harvard Cocktail in a delicious homage to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Substituting a half-ounce of rye whiskey makes it (appropriately, we think) a little less sweet. If this drink was on Facebook, we’d “like” it.

1½ oz. Cognac
½ oz. Rye Whiskey
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
Shake and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry or lemon peel.

“The King’s Speech”: Silver King

Colin Firth plays King George VI, the monarch with a less-than-silver tongue in this regal drama. The Silver King, a classic cocktail made with gin, seemed like an obvious choice. A London dry gin such as Beefeater is only fitting.

2 oz. Gin
¼ oz. Simple syrup
1 Egg white
2 dashes Bitters (any will do)
“Dry shake” without ice, then with ice. Serve in a rocks glass over fresh ice.

“The Fighter”: Irish Whiskey Punch

This punch-drunk tale of “Irish” Micky Ward, a blue-collar boxer who earns a title shot, is as close as we came to a no-brainer. Mix up a bowl to make your party a knockout. (Adapted from “Punch” by David Wondrich.)

6 oz. Sugar
3 Lemons, peel only (no pith)
6 oz. Lemon juice
750 ml Red Breast or Powers Irish Whiskey
4-5 cups Water
1⁄4 Nutmeg, freshly grated

Muddle sugar and lemon peel to release oils from lemon; wait one hour. Muddle again, then add lemon juice. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add spirit; stir and taste for balance. Add water, ice and nutmeg just before serving. Ladle into a cocktail glass or holiday mug. Spirits can be mixed in different combinations (i.e. 2⁄3 cognac, 1⁄3 rum). If possible, use one large chunk of ice (try freezing it in a Tupperware bowl) to chill punch to reduce dilution.

“Black Swan”: Black Velvet

The film is about a “Swan Lake” dancer whose real life begins to mirror the duality of the ballet’s lead character. What better way to reflect that internecine psychological struggle than with the Black Velvet, which marries dark, hearty Guinness and smooth, clear champagne? It’s to die for.

1 part Guinness
1 part Champagne

Fill a champagne flute halfway with champagne. Slowly fill the remaining half with Guinness (try pouring over
the back of a spoon to layer).

“Inception”: Sake Bomb

For the movie about dreams within dreams, we chose a drink within a drink. These go down quickly, so pace yourself or else you’ll need a totem to tell if you’re still awake.

1 shot Sake
1/2 pint Japanese beer

Say “Kanpai!” as you drop the shot into the pint glass and quickly drink the whole thing!

“The Kids Are All Right”: Fruit Wine Sangria

In this story of a same-sex couple whose son and daughter seek out their biological father, the characters drank copious quantities of red wine and one owned a locavore restaurant. With that in mind, we whipped up a batch of sangria using a Keel & Curley Wild Berry Pinot from Plant City. (The following recipe should be adjusted to the sweetness level of the wine.)

1 bottle wine, preferably dry
4 to 6 oz. Curacao, Grand Marnier is best
6 to 8 oz. Fresh orange juice
Stir in pitcher. Add simple syrup and bitters to taste.

“Winter’s Bone”: White Whiskey Sour

This tense indie thriller is set in the bleak Ozark wilderness, where meth is the new moonshine. We’ll stick with the latter, thanks very much. Get yourself a mason jar of Georgia Moon Corn Whiskey and watch out for revenuers.

1-1/2 oz. White whiskey
3/4 oz. Lime Juice
3/4 oz. Simple Syrup
“Dry shake” without ice, then with ice. Serve in a tall glass over fresh ice. We put a dask of peach bitters in ours.

“Toy Story 3”: Buzz ‘n’ Woody

Named for the movie’s main characters, the base of this recipe has to be whiskey, bourbon or rye aged on wood, e.g. Woodford Reserve’s maple-aged bourbon or Bushmill’s Black Bush Irish whiskey, which is aged on oloroso sherry casks. Otherwise, it’s a riff on the classic Old Fashioned. (Recipe by guild member Bob Wagner.)

1 tsp. Bar sugar
2-3 dashes Bitters
1/2 oz. Club Soda
2 oz. Whiskey of choice
1 cherry
1 orange slice

Muddle sugar, cherry and orange slice in a rocks glass. Add a few ice cubes and half the whiskey, then stir. Add a bit more ice and the remainder of the whiskey and stir. Finish off with a splash of club soda.

Tribune reviewers eat anonymously. Rommie Johnson can be reached at (813) 259-7426.

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