Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Oscar Cocktails 2013: Planning Your Oscar Party

Top (L to R): Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild; Middle (L to R): Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi; Bottom (L to R): Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
The Oscars are just three days away! I hope you've enjoyed my series of cocktails inspired by this year's nominees for the Academy Award for Best Picture. It's a collection of drinks as diverse as the movies they are based on.

I came up with these drinks over the course of the last few weeks. Making them all in one night for an Oscar Party could be time-intensive and costly, given the list of ingredients--38 in all across the 9 drinks--and varied techniques for custom syrups and even a little molecular gastronomy behind the "milk foam" in the Beasts of the Southern Wild.

If you're ambitious enough to make all the drinks as is, by all means go for it, but this guide is an attempt to help downsize the work and ingredients a bit while still offering a selection of awesome drinks. The first table lists all the ingredients the drinks call for.

Oscar Cocktails 2013: Table of All Ingredients
Drink Spirit Liqueur/other liquor Syrup Other ingredient Garnish
Amour Gin Pear liqueur, Champagne (Sparkling wine)
Lemon juice Lemon twist
Argo Canadian whisky Sweet vermouth Cardamom Orange juice Orange peel
Beasts of the Southern Wild Rye whiskey Walnut liqueur Roasted corn Milk, milk foam Nutmeg
Django Unchained Bourbon
Peppercorn Mint, club soda Mint sprig
Les Misérables London dry gin St. Germain, ginger liqueur, Lillet Blanc
Lemon twist
Life of Pi Light rum Blue curaçao Simple Lime juice, fine sea salt Orange twist
Lincoln Smoked whiskey
Maple Peychaud's bitters
Silver Linings Playbook Silver tequila Absinthe
Lime juice, Angostura bitters, ginger beer Lime wheel
Zero Dark Thirty Vodka Green Chartreuse, coffee liqueur

Skyfall Scotch Lillet Blanc, ginger liqueur

Lemon twist

The second table lists the equipment, my judgement of each drink's difficulty and ideas for substitutions that consolidate ingredients across the drinks and cut down on the more challenging techniques.

For example, four of the cocktails call for whiskey, but each uses a different type: rye (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Canadian (Argo), bourbon (Django Unchained) and smoked (Lincoln). Although there are reasons for those choices, one good whiskey (bourbon or rye perhaps) could suffice for making all four drinks. And although the custom syrups give the drinks unique character, simple syrup could be used instead. And I won't fault you for using whipped cream instead of the milk foam.

Oscar Cocktails 2013: Table of Difficulty, Equipment and Simplifying substitutions
Drink Difficulty Glass Equipment Simplifying substitutions
Amour Easy (pour, shake and mix) Champagne flute Shaker Substitute a liqueur used in another drink, like St. Germain or ginger liqueur; use a less expensive sparkling wine than Champagne, such as prosecco.
Argo Medium (make syrup, pour and shake) Rocks Shaker, sphere ice mold Substitute simple syrup, use a different whiskey, use regular ice, omit bitters or use the same for the Lincoln.
Beasts of the Southern Wild Hard (make syrup, milk foam requires time and special equipment) Coupe Shaker, baking sheet, saucepan, cream siphon Substitute simple syrup (do not substitute regular corn syrup), use a different whiskey, substitute whipped cream for the milk foam.
Django Unchained Medium (make syrup, muddle, pour and shake) Highball Shaker, saucepan, muddler Substitute simple syrup (perhaps with a couple shakes of hot sauce), use a different whiskey.
Les Misérables Easy (pour and shake) Martini Shaker Substitute dry vermouth for Lillet Blanc, use different liqueurs from other drinks, such as Green Chartreuse or pear liqueur.
Life of Pi Medium (salt rim, pour and shake) Coupe Shaker, small plate Omit the salt rim.
Lincoln Easy (pour and shake) Coupe Shaker Use a different whiskey, use the same bitters as the Argo.
Silver Linings Playbook Easy (pour and shake) Rocks Shaker Substitute a liqueur used in another drink for the absinthe, such as Green Chartreuse or ginger liqueur (will make it really gingery). 
Zero Dark Thirty Hard (requires careful layering of ingredients) Tall shot Spoon Substitute rum (from the Life of Pi) for the vodka. If layering fails it will still taste the same.
Skyfall Easy (pour and shake) Martini Shaker You could substitute whiskey for the scotch, although that really defeats the purpose of the drink.

Have fun, enjoy, drink responsibly and let me know if you make the drinks and what you think of them. Vote for your favorite Oscar Cocktail on Facebook.


  1. How helpful! So for our Oscar party, are you serving the real or simple versions of each drink?

  2. Probably the real ones, since I have all the ingredients on hand (except some of the syrups). I have a feeling well be drinking Argos tomorrow night.