Delicious Vintage Cocktails Named in Honor of Movie Stars

by Meredith Brody

I adore the now-not-so-recent revival in exquisite cocktails.  My heart leaps when I pick up an exciting cocktail menu, often divided into two lists: classic cocktails, and innovative ones created by the resident mixologist.  I’m especially heartened by the use of fresh fruit and vegetables, whether juiced or muddled, and fragrant herbs and spices.

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 12.30.04 AM

New drinks bear new names.  I’m still partial to the classics—yes, it can be said that I’m an Old-fashioned girl!—but how can one resist the Cool Like That, an offering at Berkeley’s Café Rouge that combines St. George Reposado barrel-aged gin, Combier orange liqueur, Falernum sweet syrup, lemon, egg white and cinnamon?  Or SF’s Rickhouse‘s La Bonne Vie: Plymouth gin (yes, I do also like amber drinks, but it’s hot outside!), fresh lemon and grapefruit juice, fresh basil and bitters?  Trick Dog, in the Mission, has a line of cocktails named for astrological signs: my mind’s tastebuds cannot combine the ingredients for the Leo—Leblon cachaca, Mandarine Napoleon, condensed milk, guava, stout, served on crushed ice (I was OK until the stout showed up)—but, I’m entirely willing to try it in person.

But back to the classics.  As a unregenerate cinephile—I may not go to the mat for film over digital, but I’m passionate about big screens and the group experience—I’ve always had a weakness for drinking in the stars, i.e. making the vintage cocktails that were named for the movie stars I revere.

Everybody knows the virgin cocktail named for Shirley Temple: ginger ale, a dash of colorful grenadine, and a maraschino cherry garnish.  (Some add a splash of orange juice.)  Its Thirties-era origin has been variously ascribed to Chasen’s and the Brown Derby restaurants, both sadly now gone.  (Yes, chickens, I dined at both of them.  But never ordered a Shirley Temple.  Had the famous Chasen’s chili, among other things, and the Derby’s Cobb salad and grapefruit cake.)  Shirley herself was unamused: “The saccharine, sweet, icky drink? … all over the world, I am served that.  People think it’s funny.  I hate them.  Too sweet!”  The similar Roy Rogers substitutes coca-cola for the ginger ale and eliminates the orange juice.

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But there exists a number of other worthy alcoholic drinks with Silver Screen monikers.  A stroll through the beautiful Art Deco-illustrated pages of the venerable Savoy Cocktail Book  by famed barman Harry Craddock uncovers a number of these, most of which can (and should!) be concocted by the amateur bartender.  DO try these at home!  (The Savoy Cocktail Book  was reprinted in a beautiful facsimile edition in 1983, which features the amazing original cover image of a man in silhouette, drinking a cocktail that courses through his body like a lightning bolt.  Both the original and the facsimile can be found online.  A less-attractive edition is in print and also readily available.)

There are two very different Fairbanks Cocktails, identified by a note: “We often wondered what Doug did it on.  Now that we know we are going to try to do it ourselves.”


469px-Douglas_Fairbanks_Sr._-_Private_Life_of_Don_JuanFAIRBANKS COCKTAIL (No. 1)

1 Dash Lemon Juice
1 Dash Grenadine
1/3 Apricot Brandy
1/3 French Vermouth
1/3 Dry Gin

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass, with a cherry.



2 Dashes Crème de Noyau
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
1/3 French Vermouth
2/3 Dry Gin

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.


Where there’s Doug, of course, one expects:

220px-Mary_Pickford_cph.3c17995uMARY PICKFORD COCKTAIL

½ Bacardi Rum
½ Pineapple Juice
1 Teaspoon Grenadine
6 Drops Maraschino




This punning drink is named for a now-forgotten silent film star, Raymond Hitchcock:



The Juice of ½ Orange
1 Dash Orange Bitters
1 Slice Pineapple
1 Glass Italian Vermouth

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.


220px-Will_Rogers_1922More among you may recognize the honoree of the following, who never met a man he didn’t like:


¼ Orange Juice
¼ French Vermouth
½ Plymouth Gin
4 Dashes Curacao

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.


Craddock also provides a general cocktail for the cinephile:


½ Brandy
¼ Kola Tonic
¼ Sirop-de-citron

Shake and strain into cocktail glass.


And an homage to Hollywood’s home (no cracks about the measurement term—a “hooker” of alcohol means a slug of indeterminate amount, i.e. dealer’s choice):


The Juice of 1 Lemon
4 Hookers Whiskey
4 Teaspoonfuls Sugar
1 Egg
1 Dash Italian Vermouth

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.


Various other sources yield these:

220px-Charlie_Chaplin_portraitTHE CHARLIE CHAPLIN

1/3 Apricot Brandy
1/3 Sloe Gin
1/3 Fresh Lime Juice
Garnish with Lime Peel

(Alas, no Buster Keaton Cocktail seems to have been invented.)






225px-Harlow-publicityTHE JEAN HARLOW [suitably blonde]

½ White Rum
½ Sweet Vermouth

Shake well. Serve chilled, garnished with lemon peel.







220px-Ginger_Rogers_-_stillTHE GINGER ROGERS (No. 1)

1/3 Dry Gin
1/3 Dry Vermouth
1/3 Apricot Brandy
4 Dashes of Lemon Juice


THE GINGER ROGERS (No. 2) [seems more appropriate!]

Muddled fresh ginger root
A dash of fresh Lime Juice



8 to 12 Mint Leaves
¼ Ginger Syrup
¼ Fresh Lime Juice
½ Gin
Ginger ale
Garnish with Lime Wedge
Muddle Mint with Ginger Syrup

Fill tall glass with ice.  Add gin and lime juice.  Top with ginger ale.


The Rosalind Russell, it is claimed, was designed by the actress herself—believable because her husband, Frederick Brisson, unaffectionately known as the Lizard of Roz, was of Danish parentage and perhaps introduced her to the Scandinavian tipple aquavit.

220px-Rosalind_Russell_1956THE ROSALIND RUSSELL

2/3 Aquavit
1/3 Sweet Vermouth
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
Lemon Twist Garnish

Shake well, strain into cocktail glass.




Claims are out that Cary Grant actually invented this one, an odd combination indeed:

220px-Grant,_Cary_(Suspicion)_01_Crisco_editTHE CARY GRANT

½ Coffee Liqueur
½ Vodka
Juice of One Lime
Garnish with Lime Wheel

Stirred, not shaken!


There are more out there.  Put the name of your favorite star into Google with cocktail, and who knows what you’ll turn up.  I just found a couple of Brad Pitt cocktails: a refreshing one with mint, cucumber, and lime (all specified organic!), mixed with cucumber vodka (also organic!) and seltzer (unspecified).  And one offered by a cocktail bar in Estonia.

But I’m on my way to San Francisco’s SoMa Bar Agricole, to sample their brunchtime Mary Pickford: white rum, pineapple gum, lime, grenadine, and maraska.

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We encourage you to support your local independent bookstore but you may also use our affiliate links to purchase The Savoy Cocktail Book from IndieBound and

Meredith Brody, a graduate of both the Paris Cordon Bleu cooking school and USC film school, has been the restaurant critic for, among others, the Village VoiceLA Weekly, and SF Weekly, and has written for countless film magazines and websites including Cahiers du CinemaFilm Comment, and Indiewire. Her writings on books, theater, television, and travel have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and Interview. She also contributes an occasional column to EatDrinkFilms called “Meals with Meredith,” where she talks about food and film with filmmakers at restaurants in northern California. You can read her previous “Meals with Meredith” columns here: “A Speedy Breakfast with Jon Favreau, Writer/Director/Star of CHEF” and “Dinner with Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller, directors of THE GALAPAGOS AFFAIR: SATAN CAME TO EDEN at La Urbana in San Francisco.”

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