Wine & Food

    Richard E Grant and Paul McGann in Withnail & I

    Eight of the best boozy scenes in cinema

    28 April 2017

    With sci-fi enthusiasts geeking out about Jedi mind tricks on their way for the annual Star Wars day on this May 4th (see what they did there?), we thought we’d consider what to drink while you watch settle in for your Episodes 1 to 7 marathon. As the famous Mos Eisley saloon scene is one of our favourites in the space-bound saga, we’ve also knocked together a list of our other favourite bar and boozing scenes in cinema. You’re more than welcome to drink along at home…

    Star Wars

    Arguably the most violent bar scene in movie history, in one short spell, the Mos Eisley cantina crowd witness Obi Wan Kenobi chop an alien’s arm off with his light saber, before Han Solo does away with another alien using the old ‘under the table blaster’ shot. But the bartender disappoints with cranky customer put downs, and his bar looks poorly stocked, drinks are served in Tupperware and the only obvious nod to space is a bright red concoction (primary coloured drinks being a space standard, see also Star Trek).

    Drink: Go blue instead of red with a Corpse Reviver Number Blue, created by Jacob Briars: one part gin, one part Lillet Blanc, one part blue curacao, one part fresh lemon juice and a dash of absinthe. Shake on ice, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon zest.


    A little obvious, but a silver screen-sipping classic . Interestingly, the unemployed Humphrey Bogart walked into a lot of New York gin joints as a young man and worked up a massive bar tab. Keen to clear the debts, he once accepted a bet to chew through a martini glass to honour one. No such action in Casablanca.

    Drink: Gin. We’re working through a bottle of Adnams Copper House Gin and highly recommend it. Big on hibiscus and lavender, but not at the cost of some assertive juniper (£23.99, Distillers Direct)

    Apocalypse Now

    Often cited for its ‘bedroom scene’ where Martin Sheen is apparently genuinely steaming, we reference a more discerning moment of alcohol appreciation. Having witnessed Robert Duvall’s napalm drop, it’s little wonder Sheen’s Willard needs a drink and shortly after he secretly empties water from his canteen and refills it with Martell Cognac. Which is some fine drinking in a war zone. ‘It wasn’t just insanity and murder, there was enough of that to go around for everyone.’ Not enough brandy though, eh Willard? We can’t blame his secrecy, we weren’t there, man.

    Drink: Martell Cordon Bleu, bronzed and bold with big nuts, just like Sheen’s Willard, this complex Cognac balances ripe banana and bitter chocolate with a nutty dry oak finish. (£107, Whisky Exchange)

    Withnail & I

    One for the oenophiles, this cult masterpiece was 30 years old in April and earns its place on this drinking menu for Withnail’s infamous thirst. So legendary is his consumption – a pint of cider, two-and-a-half shots of gin, six glasses of sherry, thirteen whiskeys, four pints of ale, one shot of lighter fluid and nine-and-a-half glasses of red wine – it has launched an absurdly dangerous drinking game. Perhaps most remarkable though, as they filmed cast and crew were helping director Bruce Robinson work through his personal collection of 200 bottles, including Chateaux Margaux, Beychevelle and Petrus with vintages including 1945 (an epic year), 47, 53, 59 and 61.

    Drink: The best red on your rack.


    Watch closely and the most novice of bar enthusiasts will baulk at Cruises cack-handed attempts with a shaker. The spillage is village and it’s obvious this was never method stuff for the emerging movie dreamboat. Even so, Heywould Gould’s novel still commands respect amongst bartenders, and the cocktail kitsch in the film is a nostalgic nod to some of the drinks that didn’t survive menus beyond the 80s. It is also one of the few mainstream films to celebrate the noble role of the bartender.

    Drink: If you’re going to drink to type, the Kamakaze: equal parts vodka, triple sec and lime juice.

    The Blues Brothers

    While we fondly reminisce over Begbie’s nonchalant pint-propelling prowess in Trainspotting, the flying glassware behaviour pales when compared to the Blues Brothers. Performing at the country bar Kokomo for one night only, Jake and Elwood Blues come a cropper when they kick off their set with the Spencer Davis Group’s Gimme Some Lovin’. The audience displays its dismay by lobbing beer bottles at the band who are mercifully protected in a cage of chicken wire. Things get easier when they find a ‘good country key’ and bash out some Rawhide – applause erupts, cowboys hoot and dance on tables, Jake grabs a whip and more bottles fly, this time in appreciation. God Bless America.

    Drink: John Candy drinks an Orange Whip, which has to be attempted to be believed: two parts cream, one part vodka, one part rum, four parts fresh orange juice, blended, served over ice in a rocks glass.

    Back to the Future: Part III

    As the best lightweight to grace the screen, Doc Brown spends an entire night lamenting a lost love in a cowboy saloon while peering into a single, untouched shot of whiskey. When he finally slams it down he passes out.

    Drink: American whiskey. We’ve got a Blanton’s Gold Edition on the go, a glorious spirit that takes on all the complex bourbon flavours you’d hope for, oak, stone fruits, rich toffee and spice. One shot of it should satisfy most serious drinkers (£64.65, Whisky Exchange).

    Superman III

    The St Louis Hotel is the setting for our best bar snack moment as a twisted and superbad Superman drinks Johnnie Walker Red Label and then empties a bowl of peanuts onto the bar before flicking them at the bottles. The bottles smash as the peanuts hit them, providing us with the most impressive display of Supe’s powers.

    Drink: Johnnie Walker Red label, an established blended whisky that takes you through the sweet and savoury whisky profiles with a touch of smoke on the finish. Then see how hard you can flick peanuts (£20, Waitrose).

    The Thinking Drinkers are drinks writers and performers and will talk more about drinks in film at their next Thinking Drinker Session at the Museum of Comedy in London on May 4th. You can see them there every month, or at the Edinburgh Fringe and across the UK during their tour throughout 2017. For dates and tickets, go here.