Drinking is probably the best communal activity ever. One can learn a lot about their friends, family or even strangers when they sit down over a pint. Everyone has their favorite drink, a favorite haunt for cheap booze or maybe a favorite six pack to buy when life gets you down. Hollywood also likes to drink and likes to showcase characters who enjoy their adult beverages. Let’s break down some of the best drinking movies.
The 007 Franchise
I know this is not just one movie but seriously, James Bond drinks like a fish but not only does he drink, he drinks with style. His drink order is iconic; “Vodka martini. Shaken, not stirred” has been ordered countless times across history but the man is also a knowledgeable mixologist as evidenced by his “Vesper” drink from Casino Royale. Not only is the man fond of martinis, he is seen drinking Mint Juleps, Sake, Siamese vodka, Taiwanese wine, scotch and champagne and does he love his champagne like a middle aged hipster loves his IPA hops. He is able to distinguish champagne vintages and even has preferences over which years he would rather order. There is a sophistication to when Bond drinks and while he does drink on the job, he does not allow it to affect his performance. In spite of how much the Bonds drank across time, the drunkest was probably Daniel Craig who got blitzed in Quantum of Solace on his “Vesper” cocktail and even broke into M’s home to drunkenly confront her in Skyfall as she sarcastically asks him “Ran out of drink where you were, did they?”. It is amusing to see those sad, drunken eyes when he is told he has no home and that his clothes have been put into storage. Skyfall is easily the drunkest Bond movie, as early on in the movie shows Bond playing a terrifying drinking game that involves not disturbing a scorpion camped out on his hand while he needs to finish a glass of whiskey. It is definitely not a drinking game you would expect to see played at a bachelor party.
Debaucherous behavior is nothing new on bachelor parties but this series and its first entry in particular took that concept to a whole new level. It is a simple premise but it is executed perfectly; a group of guys go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party and wake up with no memory of the night before and are forced to piece together what happened to make sure the groom makes it to his wedding. One can make the argument that the men were roofied and not drunk but Rohypnol knocks you out and given the hilarious reel of photos that play during the credits, those guys got up to some serious shenanigans during their party. Given how this premise was repeated in multiple sequels, it is hard to believe this same group of guys would opt into literally forgettable nights of debauchery.
The Big Lebowski
The Coen Brothers are geniuses at writing their films but their most iconic character is that of Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski. Taking a White Russian seemingly everywhere he goes, The Dude gets caught up in one of the most hilarious cases of mistaken identity. This movie single handedly made the White Russian into a popular drink in the mainstream and one that even yours truly enjoys to liven up an occasion. The Dude, White Russians and The Big Lebowski have brought about all manners of imitators but few are able to measure to the style or charisma that belongs to Jeff Bridges. If you are curious about making a White Russian, take a cocktail glass full of ice, add 1 ½ ounces of vodka (make sure this premium vodka, do not skimp on quality cocktails), add 1 ½ ounces of half & half or any dairy option and top it off with 1 ounce of Kahlua. It is a fun and simple drink to play around with and enjoy many variations.
The biggest trend in drinking over the past 15 years has been craft beer. The number of breweries that have opened has grown exponentially and every state seems to have their own craft beer mecca. Well, think of this movie as a love story sprinkled with hop dust and a side car of Jeppson’s Malört. This is not a love triangle but a love square; Olivia Wilde is in a relationship with Ron Livingston but she’s really in love with her work husband played by Jake Johnson who is in a relationship with Anna Kendrick who manages to fall in love with Ron Livingston. Complicated, isn’t it? Wilde and Johnson both work in a brewery, Wilde in an administrative role and Johnson as a packaging associate but manage to interact every day and incite jealousy in their respective significant others. Drinking Buddies is one of the more underrated Chicago films as savvy viewers may recognize certain neighborhoods and even Revolution Brewing as Wilde and Johnson earn their W-2’s from the Chicago craft beer institution.
The World’s End
To be honest, I was going to slot Beerfest into this section but there is only so much ridiculousness I can watch. The World’s End from director Egar Wright is a solid entry in his career and has been making some of the most well-crafted films of the past 25 years; Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Baby Driver and Last Night in Soho are all absolute bangers but The World’s End is unique as so far, it is Wright’s only foray into science fiction. Set 30 years after their last night together which included an epic pub crawl, Gary King has not been able to live up to that night so he decides to reunite his friends and attempt to conquer the pub crawl that defeated them. Without going too deep into the weeds of the sci-fi shenanigans in The World’s End, the film explores the complexities of decades long relationships as well as the fact that not everyone is built to hold up on a pub crawl at any age.
This is probably the drinking movie to end all drinking movies. Even if you are not a fan of wine, this may get you to your nearest wine tasting. The film mostly explores the aftermath of one engaged man’s baffling decision to have one last fling before his marriage but there are hilarious scenes to go along with the heaviness of the premise. Writer/director Alexander Payne has a knack for exploring complex relationships in his other films like The Descendants, Nebraska and Downsizing but Sideways is his strongest film. Paul Giamatti proves he is one of the best character actors in Hollywood and the dialogue is some of the best to ever be put in a comedy.
Not only is it arguably the greatest film ever made, this probably features the most drinking in a single film. Not only does most of the film take place in Humphrey Bogart’s bar, almost every single character consumes some type of liquor, be it a cocktail or straight up. Rick’s drink of choice is unknown but he also refrains from drinking with his customers until his long-lost love walks into his gin joint. Brandy is consumed, German drinking songs are sung but are brilliantly drowned out by the French National Anthem and even Vichy wine is dropped into a garbage bin. Humphrey Bogart sets the groundwork for all future anti-heroes but he is also at his drunkest when he asks Sam to play “As Time Goes By” for him and even accuses Ilsa of being a whore when she hopes to speak to him.
Image Credit: Photo by Stanislav Ivanitskiy on Unsplash