Sure, you can host an Oscar party and wager a couple of bucks against your friends trying to pick the winner of Best Live Action Short Film. Or you can hit a downtown bar and pick the Best Picture winners via a delicious cocktail.
One of the benefits of being part of the media elite (or something) is getting messages about things like Bambara's Oscar-themed drink contest at the restaurant's bar known as The Vault. The joint's resident mixologist, Austin Craig, has assigned one specialty cocktail for each of the Best Picture nominees, and every drink ordered through the awards on Feb. 26 will count as a vote for that film.
Granted, it's not exactly a scientific poll, but it makes at least as much sense as an elephant picking a Super Bowl winner by eating pumpkins, right? Being a professional, I wandered to The Vault for a media tasting Thursday night and did my damnedest to sample my way through the nominees.
Here's the breakdown:
War Horse (Woodford Reserve, Triple Sec, splash of Sprite, fresh-squeezed lemonade). I haven't seen the movie, since Steven Spielberg projects are typically so sentimental and sugary-sweet that they cause cavities. The drink, though, was damned tasty -- not too much lemon. I could see sipping one of these during the Kentucky Derby in May.
The Artist (Appleton Estate rum, grenadine, cranberry juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, a float of Bacardi 8 rum). This was a big, fruity and colorful drink, and extremely sweet.
Midnight in Paris (Wild Turkey, Cointreau, dash bitters, muddled cherries, orange garnish). I jumped on this drink first because I'm a Wild Turkey fan, and it's pretty much a smooth Old-Fashioned with some extra flavor. That said, I bet Woody Allen doesn't drink Turkey. Maybe Owen Wilson does, though.
Moneyball (Tuaca orange liquor, orange juice, cranberry juice, fresh lime). Served in a martini glass and decidedly light on the alcohol, I'm not sure what this rather girly drink has to do with Brad Pitt's baseball flick. It could have used a dash of tobacco juice.
The Descendants (Hendrick's Gin, Smirnoff vodka, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur, orange zest). This drink, another served in a martini glass, is way ahead in the voting so far (the George Clooney effect, I'm guessing), and while I was skeptical of any drink mixing gin and vodka, the elderflower made it work.
The Tree of Life (Skyy vodka, Peach Schnapps, dry vermouth, orange juice). I didn't try this drink, because I regretted trying to understand the film, thereby wasting more than two hours of my life that could have been spent drinking Wild Turkey and/or watching something else.
The Help (Evan Williams bourbon, Canon ginger liqueur, dash bitters). I love a bourbon drink, and even though I don't love ginger, this one doesn't overwhelm you with the ginger flavor. A worthy competitor.
Hugo (Malibu rum, orange liqueur, pineapple juice, sprinkled coconut). Another one I did not sample. Look at those ingredients! Did a high school girl come up with this thing?
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Stoli blueberry vodka, Chateau Pomari, lemonade, Sprite, fresh lime). I haven't heard many good things about this film, and I was pretty skeptical of the drink, too. Surprisingly, the blueberry isn't overpowering, and it turned out to be quite a tasty little cocktail.