Whether you’re an enthusiastic part of an Oscar betting pool or don’t even plan on watching the 90th Academy Awards, the allure of a themed drink is pretty strong, and these tipples inspired by each Best Picture nominee are all worthy contenders. Mix some up, maybe put out a few movie-themed snacks to go with, and even the Hollywood haters will be happy.
Note: While some of these don’t make a lot of sense to people who haven’t seen the films, there are only the mildest of spoilers below—still, proceed with caution if you don’t like to know any details before you’ve seen a movie for yourself.
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” — Whiskey, Bitters, and Club Soda
Let’s get this one out of the way first. While it may be critically lauded (though not universally), superbly acted, and often darkly humorous, it’s just not much fun to riff on in drink form. There is a Missouri Mule (created for native state son Harry S. Truman, though he didn’t much care for it himself), but thematically, it’s not a great fit, save the name. If you’re brave enough, you could make flaming shots in honor of the main character’s explosive rage, or if you want to embrace the pitch-black humor aspect, go with an Obituary, but our vote is for something along the lines of a Stone Fence—just good old-fashioned whiskey for drowning your sorrows, bitters to reflect your emotional state after watching this movie, and club soda to dilute it all a little since Monday is a work day for most of us. The classic recipe uses cider instead of soda, which you can certainly do if you need a bit more sweetness. Get our Stone Fence recipe.
“Darkest Hour” — Churchill’s Breakfast Cocktail
Picking a drink for a biopic of Winston Churchill is pretty easy, because the man liked to drink (a lot). Whiskey was a favorite, and his children reportedly called his daily glass of Johnnie Walker Red heavily diluted with water a “Papa cocktail,” so you could very well just serve that—as strong or as weak as you’d prefer. However, he also had a proper cocktail named after him in 1939, and this more modern recipe featuring cold brew coffee and maple syrup is an even more interesting choice. It pays homage to his affinity for both morning whiskey and stogies, in the form of a charred cinnamon stick “cigar” garnish, which is so simple yet so impressive, you just might get an honorary visual effects award from your friends. Get the recipe.
“Dunkirk” — Aviation Cocktail
The other World War II movie in the bunch centers on the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk and features action in the air, water, and on land. It so happens that “Dunkirk spirit” is not only a British phrase used to describe an ineffable quality of grit, but an actual brand of gin, which you could use in any number of cocktails, from a simple gin and tonic to this classic Aviation cocktail—a nice nod to the Spitfire planes featured in the film, whatever type of gin you use. Get the recipe.
“Call Me By Your Name” — Peach Bellini
It’s Italian and it’s made from peaches. If you’ve seen the movie, this makes perfect sense. If you haven’t, well, you’ll still love drinking this, and the sparkling wine makes it appropriately festive for an awards ceremony. Since peaches aren’t in season, you may need to add a little extra sugar, and/or you can try roasting the fruit first to concentrate the flavor. Get our Peach Bellini recipe.
“Lady Bird” — Elderflower Concord Grape Cocktail
John Steinbeck’s classic novel “The Grapes of Wrath” figures into this affecting coming-of-age film, so why not pick a grape-based cocktail, like a purple Negroni or Concord martini? This elderflower Concord cocktail is fittingly bittersweet, and lovely to behold, although if you like things a little earthier and were into the charred cinnamon stick mentioned above, stir up some Clove and Cider cocktails in homage to clove cigarettes’ mention in the movie. It’s all about the freedom to choose. Speaking of, since you’re not likely to find fresh Concord grapes in February, feel free to substitute a little bottled Concord juice, and if you don’t taste enough sour or bitter in the finished drink (since you’ll be missing the muddled skins), add a touch more lemon juice or bitters as needed. Get the recipe.
“Get Out” — Froot Loops White Russian
It’s tempting to go with tea, and if you want to, you’ve got lots of options, like white tea sangria, vanilla vodka chai, and simple chamomile with honey and bourbon, but whatever you chose, you should probably shake it, not stir. If you’re willing to go a little sillier—and yet also way scarier—you’ve obviously got to serve Froot Loops shots, or this cereal milk cocktail. Straws are optional, but do be sure to leave out little bowls of Froot Loops for dunking. Get the recipe.
“Phantom Thread” — Green Tea Gimlet
Though you might not be able to tell from the trailers, there’s a great deal of food featured in this film, and in the first scene where the two main characters meet, a full breakfast is ordered, including a pot of lapsang souchong tea. The smoky black tea lends a lovely depth to many cocktails, like this whiskey lemon cordial and this smoky tea sour. But Reynolds Woodcock, ever the iconoclast, also enjoys Japanese green tea—sencha, not matcha, but they’re close enough that a matcha cocktail makes an appropriate nod to his habits, and even recalls the color of one stunning green silk coat glimpsed in the movie (and in this Vanity Fair fashion show of the film’s costumes). Get the recipe.
“The Shape of Water” — Blue Majik Woman
This one’s a mocktail (okay, a “wellness drink”), which could be good since the Oscars are on a Sunday, but who’s to say you couldn’t spike it if you wanted? It’s made with blue spirulina powder for a naturally gorgeous color, and as a bonus, it’s derived from oceanic algae, further fitting the watery theme. However, some people think it tastes a little fishy, or at least not that good without other strong flavors to mask it, so if that worries you, you could always go the more classic route and make a mixed drink with blue Curaçao. Put it in a fishbowl if you’re cheeky like that—and float the sexiest Swedish fish you can find in the middle of the drink. (Or if that’s literally a bit too much, consider blue Jello shots.) Get the recipe.
“The Post” — The Journalist
This cocktail dates back to the 1930s and is basically a perfect martini (i.e. one with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth) with a few little extras. Presumably, it’s named for journalists’ predisposition to drink a lot, but whatever the reason, it’s a no-brainer to serve in honor of this political thriller centered on newspaper people. Get the recipe.