Showing posts with label Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Food. Show all posts

Monday, May 22, 2023

Noir Bar by Eddie Muller

Noir Bar
Cocktails Inspired by the World of Film Noir
by Eddie Muller
TCM and Running Press
Hardcover ISBN: 9780762480623
May 2023
248 pages

“Noir Bar offers a booze-based excursion through America’s most popular film genre, pairing easy-to-master recipes with the kind of behind-the-scenes anecdotes I like to include in my film intros and books.... This book is designed to be a drinking companion for anyone taking a deep dive into the glamorous and gritty world of noir.” — Eddie Muller

Cocktails and film noir make for a perfect pair in TCM host Eddie Muller's latest book: Noir Bar. Presented in alphabetical order, Noir Bar features 50 different films, each with a cocktail recipe to accompany it. Muller's curation of titles is as exciting as the cocktails he picks for each. The recipes were carefully selected by Muller—who is both the Czar of Noir and an experienced mixologist—to tie into the movie. The connection between noir and cocktail can be as simple as a reference to the title, protagonist or one of the actors. Some are thematic based on elements of the story. And there are numerous Eddie Muller originals. As someone who loves both film noir and cocktails, I had fun reading how Muller ties the cocktail to the movie and his reasoning behind each choice.

Here are some of my favorite film noir and cocktail pairings:

  • The Blue Gardenia (1953) The Pearl Diver — This is a hat tip to the Tiki cocktail that Raymond Burr's character buys for Anne Baxter in order to get her intoxicated. Not many cocktails in the book have a direct connection
  • D.O.A. (1949)The Last Word — The name is a reference to the protagonist's plight to get the "last word" on his murder. The cocktail recipe ingredients put together look reminiscent of the luminous poison from the film.
  • Hell’s Half Acre (1954)Mai Tai — This film noir takes place in and was filmed on location in Hawaii. As someone who has enjoyed many a Mai Tai in Oahu, I appreciated Muller's tips on how to make a quality Mai Tai at home.
  • Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Johnny & Earle — Named after Robert Ryan and Harry Belafonte’s characters, this Eddie Muller original is probably the most clever cocktails in the whole book. He writes: “My mixology strategy here is obvious and symbolic—like the end of the movie. Two base spirits that rarely engage with each other are unexpectedly combined: Jamaican dark rum… and Southern Comfort… In the spirit of the story, my formula calls for fifty-fifty use of the two spirits…The bitters and the Allspice Dram smooth things out between two headstrong leads.”
  • Pickup on South Street (1953)Bloody Mary — Eddie Muller prides himself on his signature recipe and this cocktail happens to be director Samuel Fuller's drink of choice.
  • Suspense (1946) Belita — This frozen cocktail is named after the film's star Belita and is a hat tip to her career as an ice skater.

And of course I had to make the Out of the Past (1947) Paloma. In the book Muller writes, 

"this [is a] humble concoction of tequila, lime, and grapefruit soda... Mitchum, of course, would have waved off grapefruit soda in his tequila. Granted. This one's for Jane [Greer]." 

I've had Palomas in the past but have never made one at home. I'm not terribly experienced when it comes to crafting cocktails. I appreciated Noir Bar's front matter which includes Muller's introductions on spirits, garnishes and tools to have on hand as well as a guide to basic cocktail making techniques. And for those of you who love to look up old cocktail recipes and are often dismayed by how many of them contain egg whites, fear not because this book only has one such recipe!

The mix of titles include some of the most famous entries into the film noir canon as well as some obscure titles I've never heard of—and everything in between. Two of my favorites, Double Indemnity (1944) and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), were missing but that didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book.

Each film noir has a 4-6 page entry complete with a brief foray into the film's history, an explanation of the cocktail pairing, a recipe and some images from the film. Some of the cocktails are presented with a stylized photograph that has a sort of hazy 1980s neo-noir vibe to it that gave me a twinge of nostalgia. The book is a nice compact size but because of its binding and dark matte gloss pages, I do suggest placing it in a cookbook holder for reading and reference purposes if you can. I would not recommend this for someone who abstains from alcohol because the book leans heavily on the cocktail related content. They are not sections you can just skip.

Interior spread courtesy of Running Press. Champagne Cocktail to accompany Sunset Blvd. (1951).

Noir Bar is the perfect companion for film noir enthusiasts who enjoy a well-made cocktail.

Don't forget to drink responsibly!

Thank you to Running Press for sending me a copy of Noir Bar to review!

Monday, January 9, 2017

TCM Movie Night Menus

Movie Night Menus
Dinner and Drink Recipes Inspired by Films We Love
Tenaya and Andre Darlington
TCM - Running Press
9780762460939 - 224 pages
December 2016

Amazon - Barnes and Noble - Powells

"For a title to make it into these pages, it needed to have rousing food and drink scenes."

It’s not enough for me to just enjoy classic movies. I incorporate them into my every day life. For me, being a lover of classic film is not a hobby. It’s a lifestyle.

This is why I’m glad the brother-sister team Tenaya and Andre Darlington have released their newest collaboration: Movie Night Menus: Dinner and Drink Recipes Inspired by Films We Love. As someone who loves to cook and enjoys a great cocktail, the idea of pairing both of these things with classic films was just a recipe for success. Once I heard about Movie Night Menus I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. It’s published by Running Press who partners with Turner Classic Movies on a dedicated imprint of books for classic film enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

The Darlingtons are experienced food writers with sophisticated tastes for food, cocktails and entertaining.  Inspired by the movies and their love for fine dining, they built menus around 30 different classic films ranging from 1930 to 1987. Each film is spotlighted with an introduction that gives some background on the film, helpful for those who haven't watched it yet, as well as movie quotes and promotional stills. Every movie gets one cocktail and one or two food recipes. Some of the menus are full meals and others are meant for grazing throughout the movie. The recipes are inspired by food and drink featured in the film but also by other factors including style, era and setting. In addition to the recipes there are trivia bits and advice on how to decorate or set the table for entertaining.

The writing in this book is as delicious as the food. I even enjoyed reading the recipes and picked up a few tricks. Some of the recipes serve double duty and can be made for more than one film. The authors are very particular not only about ingredients, especially with the cocktails, but method as well. I cook a lot and can appreciate how good technique enhances the quality of the final product.

I've already made a few drinks from the book and last night I made the meal assigned to Casablanca (1942). See below. It consisted of Roasted Eggplant Tagine, a Moroccan dish, and a French 75, a gin and champagne cocktail. I added some grilled yogurt marinated chicken for some protein, plated it up, built the cocktails and we sat down to watch Casablanca. The meal was divine and I discovered a favorite new cocktail. My only quibble was that the recipe never called for roasted the eggplant. Carlos hates eggplant but ate the meal with much gusto. We clinked our highball glasses when Paul Henreid heads to the bar to order a champagne cocktail.

Casablanca (1942) meal

French 75 cocktail

Eggplant Tagine

It was so much fun to build a meal around a film. In my previous attempts I made meals exactly how they were depicted on screen. I made complete dinners for They Died With Their Boots On (1941) and Fortune Cookie (1966). Sometimes older recipes or food choices lend themselves to contemporary palates. The Darlingtons adapted several drinks and dishes for more modern tastes and use substitutes when certain liquors are no longer on the market.

There are so many recipes I want to try and only a few I'll skip. I'm not sure why but in the 1930s they really loved adding raw eggs to cocktails. Besides the occasional Pisco Sour, these are a pass for me. I really adored the pastry and fun ice cream champagne cocktail assigned to Breakfast at Tiffany's (1960). And I love how the authors had fun with films like Rope (1948) which includes recipes for Parmigiano Rope Twists, Camembert in a Coffin and the Art of a Choke, a cocktail made with an artichoke digestif. Other movies include: The Divorcee (1930), Grand Hotel (1932), Female (1933), The Thin Man (1934), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Adam's Rib (1950), Giant (1956), The Apartment (1960), Dr. No (1962), The Graduate (1967), The Sting (1973), and so on ending with Moonstruck (1987).

I wish every recipe came with a photo but alas it wasn't the case. Fair warning to those of you who don't drink, this book is heavy on the booze. I much prefer cocktails to wine or beer so this was perfect for me. The entertaining tips were fun to read but I'm not sure if I'll actually put them into practice. Knowledgeable classic film buffs will pretty much know everything that's included in the intro and trivia bits which are more for newcomers.

This is such a fun book to read. Don't give in to the urge to just flip through to look at the pictures. Savor each and every page.

Tonight TCM will be airing some of the movies featured in the book and the authors will be taking over TCM's twitter during the marathon. If you're a classic movie fan with fine taste in food and an appreciation for a good cocktail, Movie Night Menus is a must-read.

Thank you to Running Press for sending me a copy of this book to review!

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