Cocktails In Pop Culture: Timeless Cocktails That You Must Try
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If you’re having a drink or two this holiday season, you might as well make it a classic one. And you can’t go wrong with iconic drinks made popular by TV shows and films. Don’t let the pop-culture association fool you: these are all very good cocktails and well worth the hype.  

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1.    Vodka Martini 

James Bond’s Martini had to be at the top of the list. It’s the first cocktail that comes to mind when you think of movies and cocktails. Sophisticated, suave, and effective, Agent 007 has been the epitome of effortless cool for over half a century. So is his favored drink, the vodka Martini, "Shaken, not stirred". James Bond has actually transformed the Martini. Before 007 made it big at the movies, a Martini was made with gin and was never shaken. Now, we prefer our Martinis 007 style and can’t get enough of it.  

2.    White Russian  

1998’s The Big Lebowski didn’t set the box office on fire, but the cult status it gained subsequently meant that it has influenced pop culture in numerous ways. It is quoted endlessly by people on the internet who find its slacker protagonist endearing. How else would you explain the popularity of the White Russian, a cocktail that combines vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream? I’m kidding. This is a great cocktail to try at any time of the year.     

3.    Old Fashioned 

Mad Men was the coolest thing on TV from 2007 to 2015. The name Don Draper became a symbol of the anachronistic but compelling 1960s leading man aesthetic. Bourbon/whiskey, 3 dashes of angostura bitters, a sugar cube, a citrus (usually orange) peel, and some ice—the Old Fashioned is a simple but classic cocktail that never fails.  

4.    Manhattan 

The 1959 Hollywood film Some Like It Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe, kicked off the rage for the crazy popularity of the cocktail known as the Manhattan. Interestingly, the film itself was set not in New York but in Chicago and Miami. The story involves a train where alcohol and men are not allowed, and the ladies devise their own solution—a bunch of Manhattans using a hot water bottle. The Manhattan blends whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters and was first concocted in the 1870s. It was already pretty popular by the 1950s, but the Marilyn Monroe comedy helped it achieve legendary status.  

5.    Cosmopolitan 

Sex and the City is one of the most popular, and polarizing, TV shows. And protagonist Carrie Bradshaw’s favorite drink, the Cosmopolitan, gained global fame over the six seasons of this iconic comedy series. Vodka, cranberry juice, fresh lime juice, triple sec, and some very cold ice make for a tasty cocktail.  

6.    Sweet Vermouth (on the rocks) 

The 1993 film Groundhog Day is about the protagonist, a TV weather guy, reliving the same day over and over in a city he hates. The film is now iconic, and so is the cocktail featured in it: sweet vermouth on the rocks with a twist. Yes, that’s the full name. Sweet vermouth with a tinge of lemon apparently makes for a great cocktail that takes one’s mind to...Rome? Well, at least according to Bill Murray’s weather reporter in Groundhog Day. Nonetheless, this is one you should try out if you’re looking for an unconventional taste. 

7.    Orange Whip 

The second cocktail on this list with an orange connection. The Orange Whip was popularized by the 1980 comedy film The Blues Brothers. Vodka, rum, orange juice, and cream are mixed to make this unusual cocktail. It is mixed without ice, then poured into a glass with some rocks. What you get is an orange milkshake-type cocktail that packs a punch. The popularity of the Orange Whip grew by pure chance—the actor who orders it improvised the scene during the shooting of the movie.


8.    Singapore Sling (with mezcal on the side) 

Sure, mezcal is growing in popularity in the 2020s, but it hit the big time for the first time in 1998, thanks to the Nicholas Cage movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Raoul Duke (played by Johnny Depp) narrates an incident when he was drinking a "Singapore Slings with mezcal on the side." The Singapore Sling was invented at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore sometime in the early 20th century. It is made with gin, cherry brandy, Benedictine, pineapple juice, fresh lime, bitters, and orange juice. These days, we can use Cointreau instead of orange juice. As you can see, it’s easy to drink and hits it out of the park in terms of taste and, well, everything else. Add a bit of mezcal on the side, and... woohoo! 

9.    French 75

The 1942 film Casablanca is a timeless classic. It’s given us many great lines, memorable characters, and a bittersweet romance that leaves an impression on us for a long time. The ingredients of this cocktail are as elegant as the film itself; champagne, gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. The name has a less-than-elegant origin though – a French 75-mm field gun from World War 1. But then, it does hit with the effectiveness of a round from an artillery cannon. A cocktail worthy of history and iconic status.   

10.     Redeye 

Is a pop-culture cocktail list ever complete without a cocktail from the Tom Cruise film Cocktail? Today, the 1988 film is considered a cringeworthy example of 80s movie mediocrity, but it was a big hit at the time. The cocktail Redeye became popular thanks to Bryan Brown’s performance as the cocky bartender who serves the perfect morning-after hangover cure. Chilled tomato juice, a can of beer, one raw egg, and some Tabasco sauce, and you have yourself a substitute for the Bloody Mary that will make your hangover cure a whole lotta fun.