Shaken & Stirred: A Drink Called Smoke & Flowers & a Movie Called FURY ROAD

by Michael Cecconi

  • Women rule.
  • Practical effects are cool.
  • 3-D movies drool.

Yes, I have drank from this well before, and no, it won’t be the last time (I fervently hope). And I feel a bit of the prognosticator with my take on last year’s summer flicks. Though, considering it took 15 years for George Miller to make Mad Max: Fury Road , I gather I am rather behind the curve (but I ask you, what else is new?). So Tom Hardy takes over as the titular Max and is promptly and repeatedly shown to be looking out for one thing: his own survival. And while this might make him a protagonist in an Ayn Rand dystopia, it is quickly evident that without a wolfpack his lot in life will be as a blood sack for the followers of Immortan Joe. Enter the heroine. Badass, buzzcut, woman with a plan: Imperator Furiosa (I want to give George Miller an Academy Award for names alone). She yearns for more than her lot in life, she thinks of helping others, and she boldly flies in the face of the world order to impose her own.

Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road .

Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road .

The drink I want to highlight was created by Kat Kulczyk, Bar Manager at Two Sisters Bar & Books. It is on our ‘Classics’ menu and will be around forever. It is with great pleasure that I tell you that she didn’t need to mutiny and drive her war rig into the desert in order to create the glass of delicious that is the Smoke & Flowers. Our workplace ethos is more egalitarian.

Before-and-after visual effects in Mad Max: Fury Road. Credit: fxGuide/

Before-and-after visual effects in Mad Max: Fury Road. Credit: fxGuide/

Special effects. They have been around since the first half of the 20th century. And yes, they create worlds beyond our imaginings and show us things we could never possibly hope to see. But they were developed and utilized to tell a story. In Avatar , the millions of dollars spent on creating that world were to tell a (a warmed-over, Ed Zwick knock-off) story set in a wholly new, complete universe. That was all digital. Mad Max: Fury Road is mostly practical. But they are both there to tell a story. One in which the method of the effects is relatively seamless with the telling of the story. When effects work, they show us the stakes and help us invest in the characters’ lives. And when they don’t, we are pushed away, stricken self-conscious at the artifice of movies, asking ourselves why we should care (I am looking squarely at you Star Wars prequelsand Green Lantern and Catwoman … and Crystal Skulls … and King Kong… but not Blade 2 Terminator 2Tron (1982 version)… The Matrix ). All I want is to suspend disbelief, to disconnect from reality and immerse myself in a story. Genre doesn’t matter. Medium doesn’t matter. Shakespeare’s words have enraptured more people than Michael Bay’s Bayhem freneticism. The question for me is not whether CGI is good or bad, but whether the movie works. A live-action Ratatouille would disgust me, but the CGI Ratatouille beguiles.

Before-and-after visual effects in Mad Max: Fury Road. Credit: fxGuide/

Before-and-after visual effects in Mad Max: Fury Road. Credit: fxGuide/

And the takeaway from the last paragraph: Shakespeare = the best special effect.

So what is a special effect behind the bar? Industrially made liqueurs, syrups, and bitters. Now the staple liqueurs don’t bear recreating; from the simple: orange & coffee, to the complex: benedictine & chartreuse. But to work uniquely one must roll up the sleeves and get to work making something new. And that is what I like to make, promote, and drink … bespoke cocktails. And here is where the bar’s practical effects come into play. Kat put the dried hibiscus into the tequila along with Maldon’s salt. She made the simple syrup (sidebar: if I ever catch anyone buying simple syrup in a bottle we will have words) and juiced the limes. Combine these delicious ingredients with mezcal. That is what she made. Practical. Delicious. Beautiful.

Still from Jean-Luc Godard's Goodbye to Language .

Still from Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language .

SS1To 3D, or not. To 3D, be it so hurtful on the eyes, blurring of the picture, darkening of the details, and inspiration of the worst directorial choices. And it is this last that raises my hackles the most. Do I need to see a steering wheel come flying out at me? Does it forward the story? Does utilizing the perception of a three-dimensional physical space really provide for more creative ways to stage a movie scene? It is contradictory, but the heightened perception of 3D makes the illusion of the 2D all the more apparent. So, open letter to Hollywood, stop making 3D movies. Unless you are Jean-Luc fucking Godard or making a film about Pina Bausch.

And here is the rub: you can’t go out and get a drink in 3D. Height, width, depth, time … it will always be in 4D. All movies should only be 3D, but brace yourself for the onslaught of more-aptly named 4D movies. At least the glasses for the movie have improved:

Horizontal RuleSS2SMOKE & FLOWERS

  • Chilled Coupe Glass
  • 1 ½ oz Hibiscus-Salt Infused El Tesoro Plata*
  • ½ oz Del Maguey Vida
  • ½ oz Fresh Lime
  • ½ oz Simple Syrup**
  • Garnish with thin lime wheel

In tin combine tequila, mezcal, lime, simple syrup and ice. Shake and strain into chilled coupe. Garnish.

*1 cup loose hibiscus, 1 t Maldon’s Sea Salt, 1 L 100% agave plata tequila. Let steep 72 hours, then strain.

**Equal parts sugar and water (by volume), bring to a boil, let cool.

Horizontal RuleMichaelCecconiMichael likes all things drink related. Michael likes movies. And, in an odd twist of fate, Michael loves words about movies. These three facts combine to make a perfect storm of sensibility, ability, and inebriation needed to fulfill duties at EatDrinkFilms. When not rhapsodizing about film, Michael tends the bar at Two Sisters Bar & Books in San Francisco. He teaches mixology in San Francisco and New York. And lately, he’s been trying to capture the magic of what he does in a bottle so he can spread his tasty libations across the land. Please feel free to contact him at with all queries.



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