Movie Night Menus

Dinner and Drink Recipes Inspired by the Films We Love


By Tenaya Darlington

By André Darlington

By Turner Classic Movies

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Looking for a great idea for date night or to entertain friends? Why not cue up Casablanca with some French 75s and a Moroccan-themed spread? Turner Classic Movies: Movie Night Menus spotlights thirty crowd-pleasing films from the 1930s through the ’80s, paired with signatures drinks and dishes that appear in, or are inspired by, each film’s setting and stars. Filled with entertaining tips and background on each film, dish, and cocktail, the book offers a unique culinary tour of movie history, including menus inspired by The Thin Man, The Philadelphia Story, Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot, American Graffiti, Moonstruck, and many more.

Fully illustrated with luscious food photography and evocative film stills, Movie Night Menus provides the perfect accompaniments and conversation pieces to round out a fun-filled evening.




“Good movies make you care, make you believe in possibilities again.”


HELLO, GORGEOUS. Sit down and have a drink with us. We’ve been expecting you. After all, what’s more enticing than a cocktail and a movie, with a meal to match the mood?

We began pairing drinks and movies a few years ago, just as we were polishing the pages of a manuscript about classic and modern mixed drinks for our first book together, The New Cocktail Hour. In the process of our (ahem) research, we ran across dozens of recipes named after early Hollywood stars, like Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. They piqued our curiosity, and so, naturally, we broke out our shakers, fixed ourselves a pair of ethereal drinks in frosty coupes, and sat down to watch America’s first star couple. Although we have always loved film—as siblings, we watched many movies together—we did not have a strong grasp of early Hollywood, or the extent of its extravagant cocktail culture.

What we saw in the flickering faces on screen was so enthralling, we began searching for more excuses to mix spirits and movies. We devoured The Thin Man series with its regal parties and delighted in smoky-voiced Greta Garbo, whose first words on film were a “give me a viskey.” That’s how the book in your hands came to be; as we discovered cocktails named after actors or films—or mentioned in scenes—we hosted our own dinner-and-a-movie nights with drinks. Little did we know that we’d find so many films featuring classic cocktails and such inspired home entertaining, from the fashion-fabulous soirees peppered throughout the films of the 1930s and ’40s, to the sensual nightcap served in The Graduate (1967) and the celebratory Champagne Cocktail prepared in Moonstruck (1987).

This book highlights some of the greatest dining and drinking scenes to appear on screen from the 1930s to the mid-1980s. We watched hundreds of films in order to curate this list, and there were many we were sorry to leave out. For a title to make it into these pages, it needed to have rousing food and drink scenes. And we had to love it—we had to imagine ourselves making it the centerpiece of an entire meal to share with friends. From there, we created a menu inspired by each movie.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to fix a well-balanced Manhattan or Martini, we’ll show you how. In the meantime, invite your besties over for a special evening—or pick a movie night menu for your next family bash. Look for our lists of Special Occasion movies (page 239) in back, along with tips on great date-night films that are perfect for two. Then, settle in for glamour, great laughs, and some of the most glorious drinks and snacks of your lives. May you enjoy many starry-eyed evenings.

How to Throw a Movie Party

When we host, we love to drop a cocktail into people’s hands as soon as they take off their coats. Then we’ll set out some snacks, start a movie, and let dinner bubble on the stove or sizzle on the grill. Depending on the film, we’ll serve a meal on the coffee table while everyone’s watching, or we’ll press pause and send our guests to the table for a candle-lit interlude.

In this book, we offer lots of ideas about how to make these evenings special, from table settings to suggested wines. Relax, take it easy, and let these meals flow naturally. The most important thing is that you enjoy yourself and the films. The menus are fairly simple, and none of them require hideous amounts of prep. For each menu, you’ll find:

    Movie notes that offer background on each film

    Recipes for dishes that are prepared in or are inspired by the film

    “While You’re Watching” sidebars (think: fun trivia or hidden details)

    “Set the Scene” tips to help you round out a theme party

Whether you’re a movie buff or just beginning to delve into American cinema, we hope you’ll find the organization of this book useful. We kept the movies in chronological order, after much debate, because we love to study the evolution of culture. By sipping and screening your way through these pages, you can observe fascinating changes in fashion, home décor, social customs, career choices, entertaining, music, modes of travel, politics, and personal style.

Whatever your interests, we invite you to seek out your own patterns in these thirty films. Cheers, and happy viewing!

Shake and Stir Like a Star

Fixing a cocktail doesn’t require a lot of fancy equipment. You can start with a mason jar for shaking and stirring, or up your game with a Boston shaker—the professional bartender’s tool. It comes with two parts: a 16-ounce mixing glass or pint glass, plus a 24-ounce shaker tin. It’s simpler in design than the iconic three-piece shaker, which can be difficult to pull apart when it gets cold. If you have a beloved vintage shaker, though, by all means use it.

Here are some tips to help you make beautiful cocktails:

    Start with fresh ice. Old ice can pick up the taste of your freezer and result in off flavors. Use filtered water and try making ice in silicone ice trays—they’re the cocktailer’s best friend. The ice pops out easily, and you can fashion large cubes or small. Those impressive large cubes of ice? They have a real purpose: they melt slowly, resulting in a less watery drink. (We love to use them for Manhattans.)

    Use quality ingredients. Freshly squeezed citrus tastes better than bottled juices. Batch your juices a few hours before the party if you’re entertaining a crowd.

    Stir spirits-only drinks. Manhattans and Martinis? Don’t shake ’em, no matter what you see on screen! Stir them—melting the ice a bit and blending the spirits gently. A 20- to 30-second stir is just about right for yielding a dilution ratio that is ¼ water. This will ensure that your drink is ice cold and well balanced in flavor. To stir a drink, you can pour the spirits into the bottom half of your shaker and stir with a long bar spoon. Then, strain the cocktail into a prepared glass.

    Shake any drink with citrus, cream, eggs, and/or muddled ingredients. Shaking a drink helps these ingredients meld with spirits. When using whole egg or egg white (see note on page 10), you first “dry shake” the ingredients to emulsify them, then add ice and shake a second time. The goal is for your cocktail to reach the same temperature as the ice—generally 12 to 15 seconds of shaking.

    Chill (or warm) your glassware. Pouring a well-stirred martini into a chilled coupe or martini glass not only looks glamorous, but it keeps your drink cold longer. For drinks served on the rocks, a chilled glass helps prevent the ice from melting quickly and rendering the drink watery. Pop your glasses into the freezer for about 15 minutes and you’ll have frosty glasses. Obviously, if you’re making a hot drink, you’ll want to use a warm glass—best achieved by filling a mug with boiled water.

    Don’t skip the garnishes. A stunning cocktail garnish is an aesthetic creation—the feather on a hat. A well-prepared garnish—some freshly grated nutmeg, a citrus twist, or a sprig of fresh herbs—not only enhances the look of the drink, it’s also the first aroma that rises from the glass. If a drink calls for a twist of citrus peel—a common garnish in this book—you’ll want to use a paring knife or Y-peeler to remove a swath of the rind (2 to 3 inches long), avoiding as much white pith as possible. When you twist the peel over the drink, you express citrus oil, creating a lovely mist. Run the squeezed peel around the lip of the glass, then drop the peel into the drink or rest the peel on the edge.

Congratulations! You are now ready to prepare a great cocktail.


On Eggs and Egg Cocktails

You’ll find several egg-based cocktails in this book, and they are wonderful—rich and frothy, a sensation among early drink lovers who encountered flips, nogs, and fizzes at the finest saloons during the Golden Age of cocktails (1860s to Prohibition). We’re required to tell you that because of the slight risk of salmonella, raw eggs should not be served to the very young, the ill or elderly, or to pregnant women. If you’re concerned about raw egg, use pasteurized whites. Generally, we look for the freshest, highest-quality eggs we can find at a farmers’ market. We wash them well, and make sure to avoid dropping any shell into our shakers.

Simple Syrup

When a recipe calls for simple syrup, just combine 1 part warm water to 1 part granulated sugar. No need to boil this syrup on the stove. We make it in a jar so it’s easy to shake; the sugar doesn’t take long to dissolve. Store the mixture in the fridge so it’s cold when you need it for cocktails.


Movie Menus

Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery, George Irving, and Chester Morris




Clover Club Cocktail

Beet Red Devil Cake with Chocolate Frosting

NORMA SHEARER FOUGHT FOR THE RIGHT TO PLAY THE SWEET but sexually provocative Jerry Martin in this 1930 film from MGM, and she works the camera like a spider on a fly. Every look is searing, every costume change sensational. This kind of movie will make the ladies want to revert to flapperdom and refashion an entire apartment with art deco touches—every light fixture, every vase drips with style. Shearer, the “good girl” star of films dating back to 1919, wasn’t perceived as sexy, so to win her part, she hired photographer George Hurrell to help her develop a simmering look. When Shearer showed Irving Thalberg (her hubby and the production chief of MGM) some sample shots of her lounging in low-cut gowns, he was amazed. He handed her the role, and she won an Oscar.

Based on the taboo-busting novel Ex-Wife, The Divorcée dissects marital double standards, a popular topic after the suffragist movement in the 1920s. When Jerry’s husband, Ted (Chester Morris), cheats on her, she evens the score by doing the same with his close friend. And so the duplicity begins. Party scene after party scene unfolds with Jerry and her ex dancing and drinking, chasing and being chased. It’s worth noting that The Divorcée appeared just after the stock market crash of 1929 had devastated Americans and Hollywood was charged with keeping spirits high. Prohibition was still in effect, and movie censorship czar Will Hays was stumping to keep debauchery off screens (though his crusade would not prove successful until a few years later). Films like The Divorcée captured the spirit of the times, when vices and vamps were on everyone’s minds. Here, as in so many films of the “Pre-Code Era” before censorship was strictly enforced, a strong female lead embodies the zeitgeist.

Don’t even try to keep up with all the cocktails that appear on screen. A single Clover Club will do: a decadent pre-Prohibition creation made with raspberry syrup and feathery egg white. It’s a perfect pairing for the plush design sensibility evident throughout The Divorcée.



With its overt exploration of divorce and infidelity, The Divorcée is an example of pre-code Hollywood at its finest. It was made before the Production Code Administration won its fight to enforce a rigid list of censorship guidelines in 1934. Sexually suggestive movies provoked outrage from religious groups, who threatened to boycott movie theaters. A purification of cinema was called for, and producers proceeded to strip scripts of “lustful kissing” and other potentially sinful acts. The Production Code, drafted by Father Daniel Lord, a Jesuit priest, influenced the creative direction of movies from roughly 1934 through the 1960s, until it was finally dismantled in 1968 and replaced by a rating system.

Curious to check out other notable pre-code films? Look for Night Nurse (1931), Red-Headed Woman (1932), and She Done Him Wrong (1933). Sassy and sometimes downright strange, these films have garnered a cult following, in part due to their strong female leads. Female (page 29) is another great example.

Set the Scene

Confetti and balloons fill the screen. This movie is full of weddings, dinner parties, and card games. Play some crackly Jazz-Age records (we love trumpeter Bunny Berigan or Hot Lips Page), and break out your knee-length skirts and tweed vests. Despite the film’s title, it’s a darkly charming movie. We like to show it on New Year’s Eve.

While You’re Watching...

The Divorcée was based upon the novel Ex-Wife, which was considered so steamy that author Ursula Parrott published it anonymously.

Shearer’s Oscar win for the role of Jerry was contentious. Many thought Garbo would and should win for Anna Christie, her first speaking role. Another great film from 1930, it’s worth watching just to hear Garbo order a Whiskey Ginger in that smoky voice of hers.

Norma Shearer took on a sultry new look to win the role of Jerry Martin.

Clover Club Cocktail

Seductively frothy, the Clover Club is one of the most elegant drinks in the cocktail canon. It’s crisp and bright, thanks to lemon and vermouth, and it exudes the smell and taste of just-picked raspberries. Despite being pink, it’s hardly a lady’s cocktail—it was invented by a men’s club of the same name, which met in a downtown Philadelphia hotel starting in 1896. Note: We like to use a fresh organic egg, preferably from the farmers’ market.

1½ ounces gin

½ ounce dry vermouth

½ ounce fresh lemon juice

½ ounce raspberry syrup (see recipe)

¾ ounce fresh egg white

Raspberries, for garnish

Shake all of the ingredients without ice. This is called “dry-shaking,” and it is a method used to ensure that the egg gets a frothy texture and incorporates fully with the other ingredients. Then, shake again with ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with skewered raspberries resting on the glass.

For raspberry syrup: Combine 1½ cups of fresh raspberries with ½ cup water and 1 cup granulated sugar in a medium-size bowl. Stir, macerating the berries with the back of your spoon. Cover the mixture, and let it rest on the counter for 8 to 12 hours, or overnight. Strain the mixture through a sieve using the back of a large spoon to press down on the berries and extract all the juices. Discard the solids. Transfer the syrup to a clean jar and refrigerate for up to a week. Note: This syrup is best used within a few days, when the aroma of fresh raspberries is most intense.

“Hello, Jerry. We were just drinking to your happiness.”


Beet Red Devil Cake with Chocolate Frosting


Cakes abound in The Divorcée, from a chocolate layer cake served to revelers at a hunting lodge in the opening scene, to a wedding cake destroyed by a jealous husband. Here, we draw on a classic red devil cake, popular during the 1930s, but made extra moist by the addition of beets (rather than dye). This recipe is lightly adapted from The Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts, a staple in our house growing up. For a fanciful variation that pairs well with the Clover Club, we like to slather raspberry jam between the layers before enrobing this cake with chocolate frosting. Ours is a rich and creamy frosting that sets up quickly and is thick enough to pipe. This recipe makes plenty of frosting to cover a two-tier cake.


For the cake

1 can (15-ounce) sliced beets

3 large eggs

1½ cups granulated sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

1½ cups all-purpose white flour

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1½ teaspoons baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

In a blender, puree the beets along with ½ cup of their juice. Add eggs, and blend again until frothy. Pour the contents into a large mixing bowl and add sugar, oil, vanilla, and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, and baking soda. Sift these dry ingredients into the egg mixture in four stages, mixing well between each addition.

Divide the batter between the two cake pans, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool, then run a butter knife around the edge of the pan and loosen them gently before inverting.

Tip: Freeze the cake layers for 10 minutes before frosting them. They’ll be less likely to tear.

For the chocolate frosting

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (three 4-ounce bars), chopped

1¾ cups (14 ounces) heavy cream

½ cup (4 ounces) sour cream

¼ teaspoon salt

Fresh raspberries (optional), for garnish

In the top part of a double boiler, warm the chocolate and heavy cream over gently simmering water. Stir until completely melted. Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly (about 10 minutes). Add the sour cream and salt. Stir until combined.

Set the frosting aside until it reaches room temperature. Then, whisk or beat it with an electric mixer just until it thickens and turns a shade lighter in color.

To frost, be sure your cake is cool or chilled (see tip on page 18). Use a small spatula or butter knife to spread about 1 cup of the frosting evenly across the top of the first layer. Then, stack the second cake layer on top. Spread frosting evenly across the top and down the sides of both layers. Garnish with fresh raspberries, if desired.

Norma Shearer and Chester Morris embracing on their anniversary

Jean Hersholt as Senf, the hotel porter




Louisiana Flip

German Pancake with Ham and Gruyère or Berries and Cream

AN OPULENT ART DECO HOTEL IN BERLIN AND AN ALL-STAR CAST. Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, brothers John Barrymore and Lionel Barrymore, and Wallace Beery all deliver magnetic performances in this Oscar-winning drama about five guests whose lives intertwine during their hotel stay. Producer Irving Thalberg worked magic during the dark years of the Depression, making Grand Hotel one of the first movies to feature an ensemble cast of high-power actors. This was something no director had done before, since investing so much star power in a single film was deemed risky. Luckily, Grand Hotel was a box office sensation. It won Best Picture and was later added to the National Film Registry.

Our menu is inspired by two of the movie’s most dramatic characters, Lionel Barrymore and Greta Garbo. Barrymore plays Otto Kringelein, a sickly old man intent on spending his last days in luxury. He orders Louisiana Flips in the hotel’s Yellow Room and tags along after the ladies, inviting anyone who will indulge him to enjoy Champagne and caviar in his royal suite. Garbo plays a Russian dancer, Grusinskaya, who swans about in satin gowns as ethereal as this meal’s main course, a plush pancake that swings sweet or savory.

Lovers of vintage fashion, prepare to be swept away. This is one of our all-time favorite films—it’s novel-like in scope, plus artfully shot and acted. It’s also worth noting that the Barrymores, John and Lionel, are part of one of Hollywood’s great acting families, of which Drew Barrymore is a descendent. In Grand Hotel, megastar John Barrymore plays the tragic figure of “the Baron,” a master thief and seducer.

Joan Crawford and Lionel Barrymore, enjoying his Louisiana Flip

Set the Scene

The 1930s were an era of bias-cut dresses designed to hide thin, Depression-era figures, and film stars like Garbo and Crawford created a beautiful distraction from it all, despite presenting unattainable glamour. Play waltz music as guests arrive and serve everyone a round of flips. The tone of the film is formal, elegant—think tuxedos and white gloves. If you want to set up a bar cart and serve more than flips, include chilled Champagne and absinthe (which makes a lovely digestif called an Absinthe Frappé when shaken with a little simple syrup and served over crushed ice with a sprig of mint).

Greta Garbo reclining on a bed while her paramour, the Baron (John Barrymore), woos her

While You’re Watching...

Crawford and Garbo never appear in the same frame. In other words, they were prevented from trying to upstage each other.

Listen for Garbo’s famous line, “I want to be alone.” It later became synonymous with her mysterious personality. She was an iconoclast who refused to marry.

The script for Grand Hotel was based on a bestselling book, Menschen im Hotel (1929), written by Viennese author Vicki Baum. During the late 1920s and early ’30s, she lived in Berlin and wrote five serialized novels. Grand Hotel made her wildly famous, and she was marketed internationally as Weimar’s “New Woman”—independent, fashionable, and athletic (she boxed).

“To life! To the magnificent, dangerous, brief, brief, wonderful life ... and the courage to live it!”


Louisiana Flip


On Sale
Dec 27, 2016
Page Count
224 pages
Running Press

Tenaya Darlington

About the Author

Tenaya Darlington serves as Cheese Director for two wine bars in Philadelphia, both called Tria, and is a member of the writing faculty at Saint Joseph’s University. When she’s not teaching cheese workshops under the name “Madame Fromage,” you can find her circumnavigating the globe as a guide for Cheese Journeys — a dairy-centric food tour company. She is also the author of Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese and co-author of four cocktail books, including Booze and Vinyl, written in collaboration with her spirits-expert brother, André Darlington. Her writing has appeared in Cooking Light, The Philadelphia Inquirer, EdiblePhilly, Fermentation, and Culture Magazine. You can find her on social media as @mmefromage

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Author André Darlington

André Darlington

About the Author

André Darlington is the author of Bar Menu and Booze Cruise, among many other food and drink titles, as well as the co-author of Booze & Vinyl, The New Cocktail Hour, and Movie Night Menus. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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