Hollywood's Golden Years of Cocktails

The earlier films immortalize the glamour of the cocktail. Sideboards with shakers are almost always part of the props. Butlers and tuxedoed waiters pass trays of Martinis. In My Man Godfrey, David Niven plays the butler who helps himself to the Martinis he serves. One of the most notables of the classics is of course, The Thin Man. William Powell plays Nick the detective who instructs his bartender, "The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you always shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a dry martini you always shake to waltz time." My absolute favorite is from 1954 where Oliver Larrabee, played by Walter Hampden in Sabrina, struggles to get the last olive out of the jar. He finally gives up and pours his martini into the jar.

Back in the day, cocktails were a part of most parties and social occasions. To imbibe in cocktails was more than the casual drink it is today. One dressed for the event. The Coconut Grove, Brown Derby, Roosevelt, Hi Ho, Embassy Club, and The Vendomme were just a few of the places to be seen. Each of these places have their own cocktails, as do some of the stars seen drinking there. The recipes can be found on the next page.

The movies have brought us many of our favorite drinkers, on and off the screen. W.C. Fields was reported to have an attic full of Gin bottles when he died. William Holden is famous for "warming up the ice cubes" which meant to mix the Martinis. Jimmy Stewart portrays a mild mannered drunk, with an invisible six foot rabbit for a best friend, in the 1950 hit, Harvey. Rat Packers, Dean Martin loved his Martinis as much as Frank Sinatra loved his Jack Daniels. 1981 gave us Dudley Moore in Arthur whose fiancee tells him, "A real woman could stop you from drinking." Arthur replies, "It'd have to be a real BIG woman".

The last take in the movies is also known as the "Martini Scene". As Bogart said in Casablanca, "Here's looking at you, kid."

Next pages > The Cocktails of the Stars > Cocktail Quotes from the Golden Age