Lonely Planet Writer

An L.A. bartender is creating cocktails inspired by this year's Oscar nominated movies

The ultimate Oscars-watching party is not complete without a good cocktail, or so says Matt Landes, the CEO of Cocktail Academy, who prepares the drinks for the star-studded gatherings that happen around the biggest event in the movie calendar.

An American in Italy inspired by Call Me By Your Name. Image by Cocktail Academy

“We’ve been seeing a huge influx of interest in low proof, health-conscious cocktails across the industry nationally,” said Landes ahead of the Oscars. What will the stars be drinking this year? “Menus utilising tea, herbs, flavored sparkling waters and low-proof alcohol like Vermouth and Amaro,” revealed Landes, “We found this year’s Oscar contenders particularly varied and assertive, so we wanted to ensure that each cocktail had personality and was particularly striking.”

Suburban Trip from Get Out. Image by Cocktail Academy

The best cocktails, according to the experts at Cocktail Academy, are created on an understanding of the balance of flavors, dilution, and temperature. “The craft is gleaned from understanding classic cocktail structure and how to creatively pull flavors together,” explained Landes, whose company also does private cocktail sessions at people’s homes, where mixologists will teach students about the families of cocktails, and the principles on which all cocktail-making should be based. “It’s the same idea of learning the classic techniques of cooking or painting before attempting to deviate and create new cocktails. We also teach cocktail technique – just because you have the right bar tools doesn’t mean you know how to use them properly. Precision is key!” said Landes.

Mama Don’t Preach inspired by Lady Bird Image by Cocktail Academy

The drink-making experts at Cocktail Academy have seen a revival of classic cocktails since the early 2000s, helped partly by the rise of foodie-ism and the desire to dissect recipes and know where what we consuming comes from. Plus, the urge to be creative. “As we found with our Oscar cocktails, art inspires art,” said Landes, “building a cocktail and drinking the cocktail is just another form of storytelling. What better way to connect with fellow friends, artists, and creatives than over a well-crafted cocktail?”

Classified Experiment from The Shape of the Water. Image by Cocktail Academy

Read on for top recipes you can prepare at home inspired by Landes’ favourite Oscars movies:

“An American In Italy” inspired by Call Me By Your Name

“The cinematography of the film plays up a pastel-inflected palette and we wanted to create a cocktail that was reminiscent of those Italian sun-drenched colours. To give the drink a younger, fresh outlook on an Italian classic we also used a California-made amaro that is bright and nuanced”

  • 2 oz Amaro Angeleno
  • 1 oz blood Orange
  • Top with Housemade Rosemary-Sage Soda
  • Pour amaro + blood orange over ice in a collins glass.  Top with soda.  Garnish with fresh rosemary + sage.

“Suburban Trip” inspired by Get Out

“For this drink we wanted to play on opposites. The film is a dichotomy of idyllic suburban life juxtaposed with the dark world that lurks beneath. Despite being a densely-colored drink, the flavor and texture is frothy and creamy.”

  • 2 oz Martell Blue Swift
  • 3/4 oz Lemon
  • 3/4 oz Molasses
  • 1 Egg White
  • 1 tsp of Activated Charcoal
  • Coffee Grinds, to garnish
  • Combine all ingredients except coffee grinds in a shaker.  Dry shake (without ice) for 15-20 seconds until frothy/emulsified.  Add ice and shake.  Strain into a cocktail glass and sprinkle coffee grinds on top.

“Mama Don’t Preach” inspired by Lady Bird

A young, vibrant teenager with a protective mother is the premise of the film, but underneath there is a complex relationship fraught with love and adoration. The drink builds on that – the cactus fruit represents Lady Bird’s passion and outspokenness while the gin and peppermint oil complement the stringent sharpness of her catholic schooling and strained mother-daughter relationship”

  • 1 oz Gin
  • 1/2 oz Lemon
  • 1/2 oz Cactus Fruit Syrup
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Cactus piece
  • Combine all ingredients except cactus piece in shaker.  Shake and strain over ice in a wine glass.  Garnish with cactus piece.

“Classified Experiment” inspired by The Shape of Water

“Any color inspiration from a Guillermo Del Toro film is usually a vibrant blue (and occasionally red). We wanted to instill the look of a murky ocean with dynamic flavor profiles underneath the surface. The green chartreuse is vegetal and sweet while the violette is floral and rich. The result is a cocktail that is complex and unique – appropriate for the film’s whimsical plot.

  • 2 oz Green Chartreuse
  • 3/4 oz Lemon
  • 1/2 oz Simple
  • 3/4 Creme de Violet
  • Chickpea Water
  • Seaweed Crisp
  • Combine all ingredients except seaweed crisp in a shaker.  Dry shake (without ice) for 15-20 seconds until frothy/emulsified.  Add ice and shake.  Strain into a snifter or cocktail glass.  Garnish with a seaweed crisp.

“Cry For Justice” inspired by 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

“The drink is direct and strong, just like the billboards that Mildred puts up throughout town. We wanted to showcase a fresh corn syrup to pay homage to Missouri and build from that – resulting in an Americana-themed cocktail that is slightly modern, slightly Western, and full of punch”

  • 1 oz Rye
  • 1 oz Applejack
  • 1/2 oz Fresh Corn Syrup
  • 2 Dashes of Orange Bitters
  • Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass.  Add ice and stir for 15 seconds.  Strain over ice into an old fashioned glass.  Garnish with a cinnamon stick or orange