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The Perfect Mate: What to drink at the movies?

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August 13, 2012 by Steven

There are many reasons why Austin is one of the greatest cities on Earth, but near the top of that voluminous list of awesome has to be The Alamo Drafthouse. They have been credited with many things, but in my mind they remain the foremost innovator of bringing the world of drinking and movie watching together. But with the endless choices of beverages available, how does one decide?

Pairing movies with drinks is no different than pairing wine with food. The only difference is you’re looking for complimentary attitudes, not just flavors or noses or legs or whatever the hell wine drinkers talk about. You want to make sure your beverage doesn’t conflict with the film. There are very real consequences picking the wrong drink. Are you so uncouth as to slam Jägerbombs during The Notebook? You savage! Are you sipping a fine vintage Cabernet while watching The Expendables?Sylvester Stallone might shoot you through the screen.

A good indicator is genre. Certain genres are best enjoyed with certain beverages in hand:

Action, Comedy, and Romantic Comedy: Beer

The goal of most films is to engage you, to make you burst out with raw emotions like raucous laughter, thrilled screams, or awe in how all those massive explosions in no way advanced the plot. You want a beverage that is simple and refreshing, that you can drink the way you eat popcorn and likely in the same volume.

NOTE ON BEER: Most big blockbusters these days are running longer and longer. Believe me, I’ve been there: “Wow, that’s a long running time. I’d better get a pitcher!”  Beer does 2 things to the human body: makes your mind weak and your bladder full. If you’re watching the new four-and-half hour Christopher Nolan film, you might want to curb your drinking for no reason other than being able sit through the whole thing.

Romance and Drama: Wine

True romances, not romantic comedies, are generally slow-paced films and deserve a slow-paced beverage. Wine can be sipped and savored, and you’ll have plenty of time to ponder the complexities of this particular vintage while whats-her-name is sitting on her bed crying for the ninth time. Drama works very much the same way. If you see a slow, panning shot of a battlefield or of Ireland, chances are you’ll have a good few minutes before anything interesting is going to happen.

Movies with Character-Specific Cocktails: Cocktails

Cocktails in movies are quite a gamble, just because it’s easier to lose track of the smaller quantity of liquid. However, watching your limit is your waiter’s job (or if you’re watching movies at home, it’s the job of your spouse/roommate/cat,) and there are some movies that you just have to have the signature drink. Etiquette demands that you drink a White Russian while watching The Big Lebowski, just as one must drink a French 75 when watching Casablanca. Keep in mind though, just because you’ve matched James Bond drink-for-drink during a marathon does not make you James Bond. You will not fit a tux under your swimsuit, and I doubt your female co-workers will appreciate their new nickname.

Cartoons and kids movies (with children present): Soda

Set a good example, and this way you’ll have a clear head to talk about the movie with the kids when you’re done. Most kids movies these days have pretty clear messages, and if you pay attention you’ll be able to appreciate the morals contained in the film. You don’t always need alcohol to have a good time, and that is a very positive message in itself.

Cartoons and kids movies (without children present): Tequila

What? You’d watch Spooky Buddies sober?

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