Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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February 17, 2014

Oscar coctails

Movie cocktails that leave us shaken and stirred

James Bond without his martini? "The Big Lebowski" dude without his White Russian? Unthinkable.

You won't see any "Best Supporting Drink" in this year's Academy Awards ceremonies, but cocktails play a major role in movies, serving as props, symbols and reflections of what's going on behind the scenes.

"The thing about cocktails, is they're about what's going on in time and the media and actually they create a timeline," says Cheryl Charming, a New Orleans-based bar manager who tracks the history of movie drinks on her website, MissCharming.com.

Charming's list starts all the way back in 1917 with the Charlie Chaplin film "The Adventurer," in which he makes what appears to be a whiskey and soda. Exact method: Squirting the soda in the bottle, drinking from the bottle, then using the glass as an ashtray.

Hopefully, that didn't start a trend.

But another old-time classic, the 1922 silent movie "Blood and Sand," did make an impression on the bar scene, writes cocktail historian Erica Duecy in her book, "Storied Sips." The movie helped make a star of Rudolph Valentino — also known as The Great Lover — and one of the screen's first sex symbols. Valentino played a poor boy who grew up to become one of the greatest matadors in Spain and is torn between his wife, a friend from childhood, and a wealthy widow. (There was a 1941 remake starring Tyrone Power.)

Valentino, known for his elegant good looks, leaned toward macho roles as a kind of counterbalance and the Blood and Sand cocktail, which first appears in the 1930 "Savoy Cocktail Book," is a mix of masculine-feminine. There's rugged scotch, the sand-colored spirit, mixed with a fruity cherry brandy and sweet vermouth, the "blood" side of things.

The result, writes Duecy is "more than the sum of its parts, a smoldering, luscious cocktail that seduces on the first sip."

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