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5 Sure Fire Popular Hollywood Cocktail Recipes

Updated on June 10, 2021
Kenna McHugh profile image

I work in modeling and film production and like to share insights into both businesses.

Hollywood entertained the idea of drinking alcoholic drinks during prohibition.
Hollywood entertained the idea of drinking alcoholic drinks during prohibition. | Source

Cocktails in Film

Celebrating special times is what we care about the most. When something comes up faster than we care to acknowledge, movies or books like Water for Elephants capture yesteryear spirits and today.

The movies overflow with retro radiance and fascination. In Water for Elephants, Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon bring us back to the days of speakeasies and unforbidden love.

Enthralled like an interloper, you witness the scene where August and Marlena invite Jacob over for an evening of cocktails and elegance. The undercurrents portray the movie sequence as rather private and intimate because of prohibition. The scene captures the essence of the glamour during the 1930s and times to share a moment of entertainment.

Other Hollywood films have captured the same ambiance of the prohibition era. You might be familiar with them as well. Let’s explore the glamour of cocktails in prohibition-era films like Some Like it Hot, The Untouchables, and The Roaring Twenties with cocktails including The Deauville, Manhattan, Whiskey Sour, and Hurricane.

“Why the hell shouldn't I run away with the circus?”

— Sara Gruen,

Whiskey Sour

One of my favorite scenes in The Roaring Twenties is when naïve Eddie (James Cagney) orders milk at a speakeasy. A counter-part mostly would have ordered the classic Whiskey Sour. The Whiskey Sour has been around since the late 1800s and remains popular even today. If you’re so inclined, you can add a dash of egg white to the mix to transform the drink into a Boston Sour.

· 45ml Bourbon whiskey

· 30ml fresh lemon juice

· 15ml Gomme syrup

· Orange slice (garnish)

· Maraschino cherry (garnish)

Pour whiskey, lemon juice, and Gomme syrup into a shaker with ice. Shake well, and then strain into an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with maraschino cherry and orange slice, and serve on the rocks.

"I think you're a pretty decent guy. I like to talk to decent guys. They're hard to find."

— Panama Smith in "The Roaring Twenties"


In one of my favorite Billy Wilder films, Some Like It Hot, Marilyn Monroe's character, Sugar Cane, makes Manhattans in a hot water bottle. She's so natural in the scene. I can't help but believe it. Luckily, we have cocktail shakers and swizzle sticks, so we don't have to use the hot water bottle.

· 50ml whiskey

· 20ml sweet red vermouth

· Dash Angostura bitters

· Maraschino cherry (garnish)

Stir whiskey, vermouth, and bitters over ice and then pour strained into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Some Like It Hot

"It's the story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop."

— Sugar in "Some Like Hot"

The Deauville

There are no movies that refer to Deauville. Created in New Orleans in the 1930s, The Deauville is a classic brandy sour with a colorful fruit bouquet served straight up.

· 25ml brandy

· 25ml applejack or Calvados

· 25ml triple sec

· 25ml fresh lemon juice

Pour the ingredients into a shaker with ice, and shake well—strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

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Gin Fizz

Brain de Palma captured the prohibition era and the mafia's heyday brilliantly as we watch Al Capone (Robert De Niro) and some of his cohorts in The Untouchables. I am sure the mob might have thrown back a Gin Fizz or two. The best known of all the "Fizz" type cocktails, this still-popular creation has been a hit since the 20th century.

· 50ml gin

· Juice of half a lemon

· 10ml Gomme syrup

· Soda water

Pour gin, lemon juice, and Gomme syrup over ice and shake. Strain into a highball glass and top with soda water. Serve on the rocks.

"People are gonna drink - you know that I know that, we all know that, and all I do is act on that. And all this talk of bootlegging - what is bootlegging? On a boat, it's bootlegging. On Lake Shore Drive, it's hospitality. I'm a businessman!"

— Alphonse Capone, "The Untouchables"


No movie refers to the Hurricane, which is a New Orleans staple. The Hurricane originated to dispose of poor-selling rum in the 1930s and 1940s. Eventually, the cocktail became popular with sailors and remains a bestseller in the French Quarter today.

· 15ml dark rum

· 15ml white rum

· Passion fruit syrup

· Lime juice

Shake the ingredients with ice, then pour into a cocktail or tulip-shaped glass. Serve on the rocks.

“In the spring of 1988, I returned to New Orleans, and as soon as I smelled the air, I knew I was home. It was rich, almost sweet, like the scent of jasmine and roses around our old courtyard. I walked the streets, savoring that long lost perfume.”

— Anne Rice, "Interview with the Vampire"

Cocktail Party

For any special occasion, you might want to contemplate throwing a Prohibition Party. If not for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you might want to consider New Year's Eve. You can throw one at any time of the year.

You have the recipes, and all you have to do is get the ingredients, shake or stir them into cocktails.

© 2011 Kenna McHugh


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