It's Oscar time in L.A. and the city's bartenders are crafting red-carpet–ready cocktails inspired by the nominated films and the stars who acted in them.
From West Hollywood to Venice, the San Fernando Valley to the Santa Clarita Valley, here are some of our most winning Oscar-themed cocktails:
The Benedict Cucumber Batch at Tipple & Brine
Cast of ingredients: Beefeater gin, Dolin Blanc vermouth, muddled cucumber
Bartender AJ Korchak says of his drink, "“I absolutely loved The Imitation Game and thought Benedict Cumberbatch was amazing. In the movie he thought he was perfect but wasn't, so this drink is a twist on a 'perfect' martini. I made it with London dry gin because he is British, and because of his name, I had to add cucumber.” Unlike the usual martini, which traditionally tends to be on the drier side, a "perfect" martini will err on the side of sweetness, which, in this case, comes from the sweetly herbal Dolin Blanc. If you aren't into the martini idea, order the Dolin Blanc as an aperitif — it's as Oscar-worthy in a starring role as it is as a supporting player. 14633 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; tippleandbrine.com
The Director's Cut at Tunnel Bar
Cast of ingredients: Gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, grapefruit juice, float of Prosecco
Daniel Ponsky's Director's Cut doesn't single out any one nominee, but the combination of gin and bubbles echoes one of the world's most popular drinks — the French 75. Here, the grapefruit juice subs for the usual lemon juice, while elderflower liqueur stands in for the simple syrup. It's independent and a little bit unexpected, which is usually how the director's cut of a film is greeted by the studio execs. 14633 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks (in alley behind Tipple & Brine).
The Foxcatcher at Cardamom
Cast of ingredients: Pol Roger Brut Champagne NV, fair-trade goji berry liqueur and a fresh raspberry
The film Foxcatcher is about Olympic wrestling, but bartender Robert Adame couldn't help thinking about how to actually catch a fox (as in foxy lady, don'tcha know). Adame's strategy includes bubbly and a sweet, exotic liqueur (not to mention showing his sensitive side thanks to the fair-trade label) and a seductively bobbing raspberry on top. 7233 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; cardamomla.com
Moscow Whale at the Venice Whaler
Cast of ingredients: Vodka, gin, rum, tequila or bourbon (your choice), ginger citrus syrup, lemon juice, ginger beer, Angostura bitters
There are few drinks more quintessentially Hollywood than the Moscow Mule. Here, bartender Anthony Settecase has dubbed it the Moscow Whale, a nod to the Venice Whaler. Unlike a traditional Moscow Mule, which uses vodka, this version offers the imbiber a choice of spirits, making it a mule for all seasons. The addition of ginger citrus syrup adds an additional ginger kick on top of the ginger beer. Much like the film that inspired it, The Grand Budapest Hotel, this drink is greater than the sum of its parts. 10 W. Washington Blvd., Venice; venicewhaler.com.
Red Carpet 'Rita at Solita
Cast of ingredients: House margarita with a Chambord raspberry liqueur float
Colin Pflugradt married the Oscars with National Margarita Day (also on Sunday) in the Red Carpet 'Rita. Solita's traditional margarita gets tricked out with a float of Chambord liqueur, and the result is a celebrity love child born of tequila and raspberries. 24201 Valencia Blvd., Valencia (in Westfield Mall); www.solitatacos.com
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Still Julianne at Murph's
Cast of ingredients: Rum, muddled strawberry, Giffard vanilla liqueur, absinthe rinse, simple syrup, topped with club soda
Barman Daniel Ponsky's cocktail takes its inspiration from Julianne Moore's vibrant performance in Still Alice. Just like Moore's trademark fiery red hair, this drink glows with a warm red hue thanks to the duo of muddled strawberries and dark rum. 14649 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; murphsla.com
Lesley blogs at 12 Bottle Bar, tweets at @12BottleBar and is the author of the book Gin: A Global History. Her book The 12 Bottle Bar, co-written with David Solmonson, was released July 29. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.