Classic Hollywood Cocktails

Nick & Nora Charles
Nick & Nora Charles

Gosh, all this talk about classic Hollywood fare has me wee bit thirsty! So I thought I’d revisit our an earlier post which featured a list of to-die-for cocktails that take their name from screen icons.

(Might I recommend the Greta Garbo? It’s truly fabulous, dah-lings.)

Happy mixing!

From The Guardian’s David Parkinson:

“William Powell and Myrna Loy knocked back Knickerbockers in The Thin Man (1934). Katharine Hepburn sipped a Kir Royale in The Philadelphia Story (1940). Humph drowned his sorrows in Singapore Slings in Casablanca (1942). Hollywood cocktails have always smacked of glamour and good taste. Billy Wilder tried to prove otherwise by having Ray Milland recklessly slug back the Rusty Nails in The Lost Weekend (1945) and Tom Cruise discovered that it’s possible to get shaken and stirred while coping with happy hour in Cocktail (1988).

But the link between cinema and cocktails remains strong and this party season you may find yourself sampling such novelties as the Departini, the Atone-Mint and the Angelina Jolie. However, if you want a little class in your glass over the festive period, you might want to try these delights from the golden age of Hollywood.

The Charlie Chaplin
1 oz (28ml) apricot brandy
1 oz sloe gin
1 oz fresh lime juice

The recipe was invented at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. Vigorous shaking is recommended before the thick, sweet liquid can be strained into a chilled cocktail glass and garnished with lime peel.

The Marlene Dietrich
3 – 4 oz Canadian whisky
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 dashes of curaçao

A wedge of both lemon and orange makes the perfect topping for this zesty cocktail, which should be shaken with ice cubes and served on the rocks in a wine glass.

The Douglas Fairbanks
2 oz Plymouth gin
1 oz dry vermouth

Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled glass. A little orange peel adds dash to the finished product.

The Greta Garbo
1 oz brandy
1 oz dry vermouth
1 oz orange juice
1/4 oz grenadine
dash of crème de menthe

Garbo stuck to hard stuff in Anna Christie, but the cocktail named after her was a little more exotic.  Shake the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled highball glass.

The Jean Harlow
2 oz white rum
2 oz sweet vermouth

The Blonde Bombshell was supposedly fond of this martini created in her honour. Best served chilled, with a lemon peel garnish.

The Mary Pickford
2 oz white rum
2 oz pineapple juice
1 tsp grenadine
1 tsp maraschino liqueur

This colourful brew should be shaken with ice cubes, strained into a cocktail glass and topped with a cherry.

The Ginger Rogers
1 oz dry gin
1 oz dry vermouth
1 oz apricot brandy
4 dashes of lemon juice

Mix the ingredients well with ice and serve in a chilled cocktail glass. If sweet martini isn’t to your taste, try the alternative Ginger Rogers: a mix of champagne, ginger root and fresh lime juice.

The Roy Rogers
6 – 8 oz cola
1/4 oz grenadine

So there’s not a hint of alcohol in his cocktail, invented primarily as a boys’ equivalent to the Shirley Temple. Pour the ingredients into a tall glass filled with ice and stir well.

The Will Rogers
2 oz gin
1 oz dry vermouth
1 oz orange juice
4 dashes curacao

The Shirley Temple
6 – 8 oz ginger ale
2 oz orange juice
dash of grenadine

This is the most tinkered with Tinseltown tipple. Some versions drop the orange juice, while others replace the ginger ale with lemon-lime soda, Sprite or 7-Up. And then there are the alcoholic variations, which include the Shirley Temple Black (7-Up, kahlua and grenadine) and the Dirty Shirley (lemon-lime soda, vodka and grenadine).

The Johnny Weissmuller
1 oz gin
1 oz white rum
1 oz lemon juice
1 tsp of powdered sugar
dash of grenadine

Johnny Weissmuller agreed to a clause in his Columbia contract for the Jungle Jim series that he would be fined $5,000 for every pound he was overweight. He probably wouldn’t have much quaffed this tropical martini, then.

The Mae West
3 – 4 oz brandy
1 egg yolk
1 tsp powdered sugar

West, who didn’t drink herself, once quipped, “Any time you got nothing to do – and lots of time to do it – come on up.” And that’s good advice for this cocktail, as it takes plenty of shaking with ice cubes to completely blend the yolk.

Posted by

Film writer and social media marketing professional. 2019 Social Ambassador for the 10th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival. Previously: social media associate at Warner Archive and script writer for Turner Classic Movies. Working on a Montgomery Clift biography due late 2020.

2 thoughts on “Classic Hollywood Cocktails

  1. Thanks for posting all these drinks! I plan on trying them all 🙂

    I am curious though, I didn’t think Ginger Rogers drank. In her autobiography she said she had a soda fountain in her house instead of a bar because of her beliefs. Do you know if this was just named after her? Just curious 🙂

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