The type of beverage your favorite on-screen characters drink can reveal more about their personality, motives, and quirks than you might realize. “For the most part, drinks are used as a shorthand to very simply convey a few basic details about a character,” explains Will Sloan of The Important Cinema Club. Of course, there’s no exact science behind this – but it is worth taking a closer look at (if for no other reason than pure entertainment value). Today we’re breaking down 11 signature drinks and what they say about the movie characters known for drinking them. And if you share a preference for any of these signature drinks, you might learn a thing or two about yourself, too!
With that in mind, let’s explore what some of the most iconic signature drinks in cinema convey about the characters (and audience members) who drink them.
Everyone knows James Bond drinks martinis. More specifically, he drinks vodka martinis – shaken, not stirred. While the cocktail itself is a nod to Bond’s impeccable taste and sophistication, his specification that it be shaken makes it clear he’s a man who knows what he wants. And, almost always, Bond gets what Bond wants.
In the movie world, drinking a martini is a sign of class. For Bond and other would-be action heroes, it’s the cocktail equivalent of flashy yet sophisticated Aston Martin. If you drink martinis like Bond, then you’re probably the action hero type – but in a classy and sophisticated way. You prize your brains as much as your brawn. Oh, and you probably get around! More importantly, you’re always ready to answer the call whenever an international spy ring needs infiltrating – you just haven’t gotten that call quite yet.
2. Sweet Vermouth on the Rocks with a Twist
Stuck reliving the same day over and over again, you could say Groundhog Day’s Phil Connors has some extra time on his hands. Naturally, he spends much of it trying, and failing, to impress his love interest, Rita. Once he realizes her favorite drink is Sweet Vermouth on the rocks with a twist, he slowly starts to figure her out. He begins to order it and claims it reminds him of Rome – which, of course, is exactly what Rita is thinking (as she’s said in previous versions of this day). While Phil uses this drink to manipulate Rita into believing they’re the perfect match, it was Rita’s drink first.
So, if you like Sweet Vermouth on the rocks with a twist, chances are you’re a nice, quiet gal who doesn’t take crap from anyone. You’re not looking to be swept off your feet and it takes more than a clever pickup line to get a second glance from you. Your high standards motivate the people around you to become their best selves – even if it takes them years of practice to get it right.
3. White Russian
Let’s just get two things straight about White Russians:
• They are delicious. (Well, as long as you like coffee liqueur and don’t mind your vodka with cream.)
• Anyone who’s seen the Big Lebowski knows this drink belongs to the Dude.
The image of Jeff Bridges with a White Russian in hand is one of the most iconic from any cult classic. He consumes these things like they’re water throughout the film – sometimes with cream, sometimes with half-and-half, and once with a dairy-free creamer.
If you’re known for drinking White Russians, too, you’re probably a super laid back, non-conformist, bowling fanatic. You don’t have much patience for authority and have no problem doing things your own way. You really don’t care what anyone else thinks (or you might opt for a classy Martini or Old Fashioned instead) – and that’s part of what makes you awesome! You do you, man.
There’s a famous scene is the 1959 classic Some Like It Hot in which Marilyn Monroe’s character, Sugar Kane, improvises a Manhattan cocktail in a hot water bottle. Not only does this reflect her fun, playful, and rebellious nature (they weren’t supposed to be drinking on the train, after all), but it also highlights her resourcefulness. Sugar is charismatic, confident, and able to get just about anyone to go along with her ideas. Despite all this, she remains naïve about Jack Lemmon’s character’s intentions.
Those of you who share Sugar’s love of Manhattans are likely flirtatious and free-spirited, though perhaps a bit more sheltered than you realize. You have great taste and are always looking for an excuse to party.
5. Singapore Sling
The chaotic, substance-fueled ride that is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas offers another example of how alcohol can be used to define character traits. Raoul Duke and his attorney-turned-partner-in-crime, Dr. Gonzo, consume countless cocktails, drinks, and drugs throughout the movie. Their drinking habits feed into their reckless personas, impulsive shenanigans, and general disillusionment with both the American dream and the counterculture movement.
Reflecting on the symbolism of booze in film, Will Sloan explains, “Raoul Duke has a Singapore Sling? That means he's a reckless with his body and his liver.”
If you, too, find yourself throwing back a Singapore Sling from time to time, you might be self-destructive, unreliable, and prone to making poor decisions. That, or you’re a perfectly well-adjusted member of society with a wild streak.
6. French 75
This champagne-based cocktail is one of many mixed drinks featured in Casablanca. Yvonne orders a French 75 when she visits the bar with a Nazi officer, likely unaware of the historical significance behind its name.
“The mention of the French 75 is kind of an Easter egg, right? They don't sit there and explain that it was named from the 75mm shells in WWI. But the significance is that it is with a German officer,” explains Kent Garrison, co-host of the podcast Mad About Movies. “Honestly, any kind of drink would have worked in this setting. The attention to detail to make it a French 75 solidifies that everything in Casablanca is on purpose, meticulously thought out and executed to perfection.”
If you drink French 75s, you not only prefer champagne with an extra kick, you’re also a spurned lover, a patriot, and have a certain je ne sais quoi.
7. Red Eye
Cocktail, the 80s-flick starring Tom Cruise as talented bartender Brian Flanagan, not only features the Red Eye, but is said to have invented this version of it. A mix of vodka, tomato juice, and beer topped off with a raw egg, this doozy of a drink appears twice in the film. After a particularly heavy night of drinking, Brian uses it to cure his hangover. This concoction is the drink of choice for those who are too hungover to enjoy their typical signature drink and is willing to try just about anything to recover.
If you’ve ever slammed back a Red Eye, there’s no doubt that you like to party. You enjoy a wide range of cocktails (you’ve probably tried everything else on this list) and have been known to overindulge on occasion. And if you’ve got an affinity for bartending, you can shake up a mean cocktail – whether you’re hungover or not.
A perfect blend of elegance and masculinity, a good Scotch always hits the spot. We’ve seen many characters sip Scotch on screen throughout the years, but perhaps the most memorable is Anchorman’s Ron Burgundy. When he’s not bringing us the news, playing the jazz flute, or trying to woo his love interest, Ron is drinking Scotch. (But really, he’s often drinking Scotch while he does those things, too.)
If you’re also a self-proclaimed Scotch lover, you’re a fella or lady who knows what they like. You’ve got great style and tons of confidence, even if you’re not totally self-aware. Furthermore, you’re seriously passionate about the things you hold near and dear – which include the news, poetry, your dog, and, of course, Scotch.
9. Old Fashioned
As one of the first mixed drinks to be called a cocktail, the Old Fashioned is an enduring symbol of class that can make almost anyone look cool. “Is there any drink more solid than an Old Fashioned? It’s just a classic, timeless beverage,” muses Kent Garrison. “You don’t have to worry about embarrassing yourself by ordering an Old Fashioned on a date. It’s manly.”
The heated scene between Hannah (Emma Stone) and Jacob (Ryan Gosling) in Crazy, Stupid Love seems to support Kent’s theory. After expertly preparing the cocktail at his super fancy crib, Jacob reveals that he frequently recreates the famous jumping scene from Dirty Dancing to woo the ladies. “Nothing caps off a night like a good old fashioned with bae,” Garrison adds.
If your drink of choice is an Old Fashioned, you’re probably one part romance, one part narcissist, and two parts seduction. You know mixing up one of these babies is a surefire way to impress a date, elevate your status, and adopt a smidge of Jacob’s old-fashioned charm. Of course, your mileage may vary, especially since Gosling’s character looks like he’s photoshopped.
Is there any drink that shouts “New York 90s Glam!” more than a pink Cosmopolitan? Carrie Bradshaw and her Sex and the City gal pals contributed to the rise of this pretty little beverage when the series aired in the 1990s and once again in the 2008 film.
It’s easy to see why it became so popular: it looks great on screen, the women looked great drinking it, and everyone wanted a group of BFFs just like Carrie had. If you regularly order Cosmopolitans on girls’ nights out, you might be a rich white woman stuck in the 90s – or just someone who likes feeling fancy on a Saturday night.
Whether that’s totally accurate or not, you’re certainly not drinking on a budget and you’re not trying to impress anyone – you’re just looking to have a good time!
Chianti can be an elegant wine selection under the right circumstances. Say, if you’re sampling gourmet cheese and fresh figs in the Tuscan countryside (a girl can dream!). Unfortunately, Hannibal Lecter has managed to permanently taint the perception of this otherwise fine wine. Hearing the infamous cannibal say that he ate someone’s liver “with some fava beans and a nice Chianti” is hardly appetizing.
“I was always a little disturbed by Hannibal's choice of Chianti wine,” says Kent Garrison. “Not only is he a cannibal, but he's a pretentious cannibal. Double whammy.” We hate to say it, but if you regularly indulge in Chianti, you might be a cannibal or, worse, a wine snob.