From James Bond’s shaken-not-stirred martini to The Big Lebowski’s White Russian, films are filled with iconic drinks. But what if you want to do more than simply watch ? We’ve found the best cocktails and refreshments that encapsulate some of our favourite movies over the years. There’s no need for any guilt: from Japanese cocktails to a good pint of Guinness, each of these drinks is the perfect way to get one step closer to your favourite film.
Breathless (1983) — Jim McBride
Where can we start with Jim McBride’s unfaithful remake of Jean-Luc Goddard’s classic Breathless? American as apple pie, for purists this movie is like watching someone graffiti the Mona Lisa. Richard Gere is a hot, moronic, homicidal mess carjacking across an L.A that feels more pulp fiction novel than French nouvelle vague. Ranking as one of Tarantino’s most loved movies, it has no interest in being anything other than the goofy sidekick to Goddard’s serious French caper—and it’s our favourite for it. The zesty cocktail from New Orleans was allegedly invented for a motorcyclist and is claimed by both a French and English bar…which makes it the perfect companion for McBride’s culturally confusing car movie.
Banshees of Inisherin (2022) — Martin McDonagh
Martin McDonagh wants to know just one thing: is it better to be boring or memorable? Set in an isolated Irish island during a period of civil war, the story of two men feuding over not drinking together could be a political browbeater with a less brazen director. But like a pint of Guinness, McDonagh prefers to keep his absurd film light on top and dark all the way through. Filled with gallows Irish humour and rainbow coloured beauty, if you haven’t seen Colin Farrel and Brendan Gleeson in their best double-act since In Bruges, pour yourself a glass now….
A New Leaf (1971) — Elaine May
This cinematic gem is Walter Mathau at his absolute comic peak. Written, directed and starring Elaine May, the plot has definitely been done before: a hopeless aristocrat (played by Mathau) has only weeks to marry to restore his wealth. But Elaine May plays the hopelessly geeky botanist he needs to seduce. Our cocktail choice is on the green side with lots of mint and leafy garnishing: an ideal companion for May’s botanical interests. Enjoy it, because this is one of the most refreshing double acts of the decade, with Mathau hilariously oscillating between WASP, psychopath and toddler.
Sunset Boulevard (1950) — Billy Wilder
If a particularly severe hangover is what made you give up the good stuff this year, you might find pairing a timelessly classic cocktail with another timelessly classic film a treat. Sip slowly, and watch on as a struggling writer played by William Holden falls into the embrace of a forgotten silent film star. If celebrities are doomed to be forgotten by age, nothing can match Holden’s cupid-faced cynicism in this film.
Tampopo (1985) — Juzo Itami
Film, food, and drink—they’re meant to go together. Toji Moon is a special little cocktail that celebrates the changing of seasons, and is perfectly paired with ramen. Which is perfect, because only five minutes into Itamis’s utterly insane Japanese movie, you’ll be starving: A disgruntled ramen restaurateur fights gangsters and adopts a struggling cook. The noodle soup becomes a metaphor for love, life and everything in between. Just be sure to hold your drink firmly during one particular egg sequence.
Death in the Afternoon
Withnail & I (1987) — Bruce Robinson
Feeling suitably downtrodden? Withnail & I understands your plight. Two broken actors escape from London to the countryside to avoid stress, and end up fighting off farmers, molestation and each other. The best British comedy of the 1980s, Robinson’s Withnail character was based on a real friend of his. Richard Grant, in full swing, plays it as a total alcoholic: drinking a genuine cordial of vinegar in place of lighter fluid in the opening minutes. The disgust is real, so get in the mood, and enjoy a strong absinthe paired with champagne.
Another Round (2020) — Thomas Vinterberg
So maybe you have re-developed a drinking problem. Not since The Man Without A Past has a movie quite captured the Nordic infatuation with the rush of alcohol. When four Danish friends decide to live out their days with higher than normal blood alcohol levels, Mads Mikkelson steals the spotlight in this kitsch comedy that puts the fun back into functioning alcoholism. This Swedish take on the French 75 cocktail subs out syrup for lingonberries (which hail from Scandinavia). The bonus: it’s sweet and easy to prep for large groups of drinking buddies.
Frances Ha (2012) — Greta Gerwig
Before Barbie, there was Frances Ha: a mumblecore classic that followed a 27 year-old dancer named Frances adjusting to adulthood. Awkwardness mixes in with a healthy dose of New Wave existentialism, but the film feels whimsical; or occasionally happy-sad. That feeling is an affectation of its maker: Greta Gerwig writes, directs and acts as Frances with a blend of self-awareness and love. Pretending to be an adult and swilling cheap wine while watching Gerwig’s awkward indie movie in the afternoon is the perfect way to match its unique mood.
Royal Tenenbaums (2001) — Wes Anderson
The story of one talented family dominated by a cutthroat father is Wes Anderson at his most human. It’s also a film that opens so beautifully it’s impossible not to re-watch it year after year. You’ve probably noticed that one character, Richie, drinks an awful lot of Bloody Marys. Is it symbolic? (Yes). But don’t think too much. This is a hangover cure.
Death Proof (2007) — Quention Tarantino
Two groups of women battle a maniacal stunt driver in what might be one of Tarantino’s most unabashedly enjoyable movies. The film is one half horror; one half revenge: and liberal tequila slammers feature frequently. Furiously violent, the movie also has impeccable dialogue (‘Is it my scar that frightens you?’ ‘No, it’s your car.’) Every heroine is likeable, and like tequila, has a dangerous kick. Like any great bar crawl, this one gets the adrenaline and laughs going fast. But don’t get too cocky: if you take a tequila shot every time there’s a vehicular collision, you might meet a similar fate.
Lost in Translation (2003) — Sofia Coppola
Scarlet Johanson (17! At the time of filming) is left behind in a Tokyo hotel by her boyfriend. She falls for Bill Murray, an older actor who is starring in a whiskey commercial nearby. This movie doesn’t simply radiate melancholy, it packages it, seals it up tight, then sprinkles it into your drink. On closer inspection, it’s also possible that Bill Murray’s character is drunk for the entire film. Get in the mood and remember that for relaxing times, it’s Suntori times.
A ten pack of cheap lager
Wake in Fright (1971) — Ted Kotcheff
Among Martin Scorcesse’s favourite films, Kotcheff’s dark comedy has the honour of being shown at Cannes Film Festival twice and also managing to offend Australians by being too accurate. The premise is simple: a young teacher from Sydney is stranded in a mining town in the Australian outback. The terrifying residents swallow pints in a single gulp and can’t comprehend the idea of anyone refusing a free drink. It all descends into full madness—just don’t watch if you like kangaroos.
Do The Right Thing (1989) — Spike Lee
It’s the end of Feb. The hangovers are back in swing. But before you ponder quitting for another month again, why not break the cycle? Spike Lee’s comedy about race riots in a heatwave might simmer around a Brooklyn pizzeria, but it’s also a warm-hearted study of what it’s like to be pushed over the edge. It’s sweltering in New York, but Mookie keeps it cool. More or less. It’s a brilliant, ambivalent movie, with enough optimism to tie you over the next year. Sip lightly.