9 Iconic Cocktails of the Movies

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Pretend you’re on a movie set with these nine iconic cocktails of the movies. From classic cocktails to modern blockbuster beverages, there’s a drink here for your next movie night.

A hand holding a gin martini in a beam of sunlight surrounded by darkness.
A martini with olives. Photo credit: Cottonbro Studio, Pexels

Movies have a way of mesmerizing and inspiring, right down to the drink choices enjoyed by our favorite characters. 

So pop some popcorn and get out the cocktail mixers — it’s movie night! And you’re in luck because we have nine of the best iconic cocktails that will make you feel like a movie star — or at the very least, a movie buff.

“Making cocktails of the movies is my favorite way to bring the film off the screen and right into real life,” said Meghan Yager, cocktail expert and blogger at Cake ‘n Knife. “You get to take a mood or a specific moment from a film and become part of it yourself, even when you are just sitting on your couch. There’s something iconic about these drinks and it’s actually the way I find some of my all-time favorite cocktails.”

Check off your list if you’ve seen these movies and tried their cocktail counterparts. We have your next movie night all figured out. 

Martini, “James Bond” Films

“Shaken, not stirred,” is the famous way Agent 007 orders his martinis. But did you know that martinis are usually stirred? When shaken vigorously, the ingredients melt the ice cubes, which dilutes the drink and gives it a cloudy appearance. Shaking also “bruises” the alcohol, detracting from the flavor of the vermouth and gin. 

No matter how you like your martinis — dry, neat, dirty, with vodka or extra olives — these cocktails of the movies are a picture-perfect drink to sip as you work through the James Bond series. 

French 75, “Casablanca”

Step back in time to Rick’s Café Américain and enjoy a French 75 champagne cocktail. This dazzling gin, lemon, and sparkling wine drink is the one Yvonne orders when she comes into the bar with her German admirer in the 1942 film. 

Served in a narrow wine glass called a champagne flute, the drink was named for a type of French artillery used in World War I, but it lives on today. It’s categorized as a contemporary classic cocktail by the International Bartenders Association.

White Russian, “The Big Lebowski”

The White Russian is well-known as the drink of choice for The Dude, which is Jeff Bridges’ main character in the 1998 film “The Big Lebowski.” 

However, the history of this creamy and boozy coffee-flavored cocktail dates back to the 1930s, when it was originally made with gin, vodka, and crème de cacao. Today, it’s made with a trifecta of coffee liqueur, vodka, and cream served over ice.

A cocktail shaker pouring whiskey through a Boston strainer into an old-fashioned cocktail.
An old-fashioned cocktail. Photo credit: Adam Jaime, Unsplash

Old-Fashioned, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”

In this 2011 romcom, Ryan Gosling’s suave character Jacob takes a newly divorced Cal, played by Steve Carell, under his wing. A professional bachelor, Jacob shows Cal how to craft and order manly drinks like the Old-Fashioned cocktail

This bourbon drink is one any home bartender should know how to make. It starts with muddling sugar with bitters, then adding whiskey, a big ice cube, and a fragrant orange peel to yield a strong and slightly sweet sipper.

Bourbon Manhattan, “Some Like It Hot”

Traditionally made with rye whiskey, the Bourbon Manhattan was popularized by the 1959 crime comedy, “Some Like It Hot.” 

Marilyn Monroe’s character Sugar Kane famously shakes up one of these whiskey cocktails in a hot water bottle on a train. Strong and sweet, the bourbon version of this iconic cocktail — complete with a cocktail cherry — is the perfect sipper for such a classic film. 

Butterbeer, “Harry Potter” Series

You don’t need a magic wand to whip up this movie drink in your own kitchen. The Harry Potter books and movies prominently feature this cozy concoction served at pubs and restaurants and enjoyed by Harry and his friends. 

On the muggle side of things, butterbeer can also be purchased to enjoy while visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme parks or the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London

For an adult version of this drink, you can make boozy butterbeer at home with butterscotch schnapps, vanilla, and cream soda with a foamy layer of sweet whipped cream on top. 

Cosmopolitan, “Sex and the City”

From food to fashion, Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw documents every trend throughout the show’s run on television and its subsequent time on the big screen, from food to fashion. But there’s one drink that remained constant: the Cosmopolitan cocktail.

This vodka cocktail with cranberry juice, lime juice, and Cointreau is served straight up in a martini glass. With one sip, you’ll feel like you’re back in the late 90s with the famous girl gang. Enjoy a cosmo while you watch “Sex and the City” reruns or dive into HBO Max’s reboot, “And Just Like That.” 

A bloody mary with a celery garnish sits on a countertop.
A Bloody Mary. Photo credit: Gilario Guevara, Pexels

Bloody Mary, “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

In this 2019 Quentin Tarantino flick, stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) and actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) regularly sit down for drinks together. Booth often enjoys the quintessential brunch drink, a savory Bloody Mary with a celery garnish. 

Though this one might seem better suited to a daytime movie marathon, this tomato juice cocktail can be enjoyed anytime. Vodka is most common, but bloodies can be made with gin, tequila, rum, and even bourbon. 

Margarita, “Practical Magic”

These classic tequila cocktails aren’t just for Taco Tuesday. Whip up a batch of freshly-blended midnight margaritas and dance around the kitchen while you pop popcorn for a witchy movie night. 

Kitchen dancing with margs is what sister witches Sally Owens (Sandra Bullock) and Gillan Owens (Nicole Kidman) do in the movie. With this 1998 film, the cocktail is chosen for you — the only thing you have left to decide on is salt or sugar on the rim. 

Have you seen all these films and tried all of these iconic cocktails? Which one tops your must-make or must-see list? Happy mixing & movie night!

Based in Charlotte, N.C., Susannah Brinkley Henry is the cocktail content creator behind the blog Feast + West. Her work has been featured in Southern Living, Oprah Daily, Buzzfeed, and more. In 2019, her website was a finalist in the Saveur Blog Awards for Best Entertaining Blog. As a professional graphic designer, photographer, writer, and recipe developer, Susannah helps home bartenders and drink enthusiasts level up their cocktail skills.  

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