Thirty Years of Cocktail!

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8th January 2024

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It was an iconic picture that turned everyone into wannabe bartenders and gained Tom Cruise a new legion of adoring fans. A story of how love conquers over fame and fortune, Cocktail has become one of the classics; a must-see-before-you-die film, despite being panned by critics on its release.
Despite the film focusing more on the friendship between the two barmen and the romances they encounter, the story always comes back to the bar, and the flairing behind it. Indeed, there are many moments in the film that inspired the bartending world and made it what it is today. In preparing for his role, Tom Cruise visited many prolific bars and watched the way the cocktails were made and served. It was never written in the script that the actors were supposed to throw bottles behind the bar, but after Cruise saw one young barman doing tricks with the bottles, he was insistent they do the same in the film. He would set up bartending championships in the dressing rooms so that he could practise throwing to his co-star, Bryan Brown.

The Drinks


Of course, in a film named Cocktail, there are sure to be a few drinks references. One was the Red Eye, a drink intended to cure hangovers, although with a less-than-appetising ingredients list. Made up of vodka, lager, tomato juice and a raw egg, this drink has actually been known to soothe the shakes and reduce the headaches and sickness that are classic symptoms of too much over-indulging.

Other cocktails mentioned in the film include classics such as Sex on the Beach, Singapore Sling, Alabama Slammer and Iced Tea, as well as lesser-known drinks including Pink Squirrel, Death Spasm and a Ding-a-Ling. Its possible that the Death Spasm and the Ding-a-Ling were names created to fit in with the bartending rhyme that Cruise recited.

Meanwhile, drinks like Kamikaze, Orgasm, and the Friar Tuck were given a boost, thanks to their inclusion in the film.

The Legacy


It is rare to find a bartender that hasn’t seen Cocktail – indeed it inspired a whole generation of young people to attempt the trade, realising it could take them all around the world if they were good at it. Even people who haven’t seen the film will have seen scenes or trailers, and Tom Cruise is always celebrated as the bartender that people should look up to, which is interesting, since his cocktails were never quite as well presented as they should have been! In the film, he would serve drinks with too much ice and only pour half the mixture into the glass – issues that wouldn’t bother the average drinker but are sure to grate on the more experienced bartender!

Despite its pitfalls, we love the film! Happy 30th Anniversary Cocktail!

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Bartender's top tip

Just like cooking, consider using seasonal ingredients to make your cocktails. Fresh summer fruits, herbs, and edible flowers can add a fresh twist to your drinks, while autumn and winter call for ingredients like apple cider, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Seasonal ingredients are not only at their peak of flavor but also can inspire you to create themed drinks that fit the time of year.

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