Criterion Cocktails for the Films of Wes Anderson


The popularity of Wes Anderson‘s films is surprisingly like the popularity of neo-classic cocktails. The styles are fastidiously retro but obviously new. The elements are excellent on their own, but make the whole a success. So why don’t cocktails play a bigger role in his films? Today, we aim to change that.

Disclaimer: Unless you are Anderson pet performer Bill Murray, please do not drink and drive Swedish golf carts.

Amazingly there is no Bottle Rocket recipe; searching for one essentially leads to Molotov cocktails, not quite what we had in mind. Start off with a preciously unusual Fireworks cocktail: 4 oz of champagne, plus 1/3 oz gin and ½ Tangerine Schnapps. Or have an Applejack cocktail (1 ½ oz Applejack, ½ oz lemon juice, ¼ oz grenadine, shaken with ice and strained into a cocktail glass) and try not to forget your accomplice’s name.

“I can write a hit play,” slurs Max Fischer. “Why can’t I have a drink when I want to unwind a little?” Truer words were never spoken by a teenage prodigy. Rushmore included plenty of decent drinks, and while we wouldn’t recommend it as a drinking game, you could easily plow through standards such as the Bloody Mary (Use this recipe as a guide, but this drink is really a matter of taste. All you need is vodka or gin, Worcestershire sauce, tomato juice, salt, pepper, celery salt, ice. We recommend hot sauce.), Champagne Cocktail (a lump of sugar covered with a few dashes of bitters, in a glass of champagne, garnish with lemon peel), and Scotch and Soda if you want to try and keep up with the characters. Just stay away from the pool.

The Royal Tenenbaums has plenty to recommend it, but it also offers perhaps one of the best, most original situations to enjoy a Martini. From the script:

INT. CLOSET. NIGHT. Royal and Pagoda stand together in the board-game-filled closet drinking Martinis and smoking cigarettes. Royal has a half-eaten cheeseburger in his hand. He whispers excitedly:

ROYAL She said that?

Pagoda nods. Royal snaps his fingers.

ROYAL (CONT’D) We got the sucker on the ropes.

Then again, their relationship didn’t work out that well.

There’s really only one ideal cocktail for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. And that’s the Submarine Cocktail: 1 ½ oz gin, ½ oz red Dubonnet, ½ oz dry vermouth, and aromatic bitters (originally the no longer extant Boker’s, so use Angostura or get creative). Shake it all with ice and strain. If anyone claims this was their favorite Anderson film (or claims to see a large, mythical shark), now you know exactly what they’ve been drinking.

Tea and spirits go together as well as daddy issues and journeys to India. So there is more than one way to honor the The Darjeeling Limited. Try a Darjeeling and Pear cocktail. Not all that strong a cocktail, since it includes only Riesling, Darjeeling tea, and pears, but a worthy entree. Or try the more difficult Darjeeling cordial: 2 cups white rum, 4 tbs Darjeeling tea, 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup honey. Steep the tea in the rum for 3 1/2 hours. Stir once. In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the honey. Stir to dissolve, remove from heat and let cool. Add this mixture to the infused rum. Stir together and bottle. This is exactly the type of drink you could get away calling “medicinal,” and is best enjoyed with a side of saucy Natalie Portman.

And, to come full circle, we return to Applejack now with The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which features an animal obsessed with pilfering “Bean’s Alcoholic Cider.” There are plenty of ciders with some alcohol content, but if you really want to really enjoy apple spirits you should skip Woodchuck and go for the hard stuff, Laird’s Applejack or a bottle of calvados. What you’re looking for is not some sweet, carbonated apple drink but something much more impressive. Or as Mr. Fox puts it, “Apple juice? Apple juice? We didn’t come here for apple juice. This is some of the strongest, finest alcoholic cider money can buy — or that can even be stolen. It burns in your throat, burns in your stomach, and tastes almost exactly like pure, melted gold.”