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Dude! Alamo Drafthouse Introduces Cocktails to Pair With Your Favorite Films

Left to right: The Getaway, Dark & Stormy, Manhattan and The Clooney margarita.
Left to right: The Getaway, Dark & Stormy, Manhattan and The Clooney margarita.
Photos by Kaitlin Steinberg

Nothing pairs better with drinks than the right food. Except maybe movies.

From the White Russians in The Big Lebowski to martinis in any (and all) James Bond films to the French 75, which rose to fame after its mention in Casablanca, films and cocktails have a long, mouthwatering history. Alamo Drafthouse is paying tribute to movies through booze starting this month with a new cocktail program.

If you've ever seen a movie at Alamo Drafthouse, you know the place has a lengthy food menu and a great wine and craft beer selection, but today is the first day you can see a movie at the theater, liquor in hand. Other Alamo Drafthouse locations in Austin started their cocktail program first, and it was a such a hit that our local bartenders traveled there to train and create a unique cocktail menu for the two Houston locations.

There are currently 12 cocktails and four loaded milkshakes on the menu, but the local bartenders and Bill Norris, a mixologist for Alamo Drafthouse corporate, are developing new drinks to pair with films all the time.

"One of our signature programs is The Big Lebowski quote-along," explains Alamo Drafthouse programming director Robert Saucedo, "and we've never been able to serve White Russians during the screening, and that's just a crime. So this opens up a lot of possibilities. If we were crazy, we could do a screening of Leaving Las Vegas where people drink a shot every time Nicholas Cage does in the movie. That's probably not something we'd do, but it's an option that's now available."

In February, Alamo Drafthouse is launching Cinema Cocktails, a new series that will feature a classic film paired with three unique cocktails. The first in the series will be Sabrina (the original, of course), and the bar will be serving up special Long Island Iced Teas, Oliver Larrabee's Dirty Martinis and a new drink called The Getaway in celebration of the film.

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The Getaway is a potent, slightly sour mixture of Blackstrap Rum, Cynar (a bitter herbal liqueur made from, among other things, artichoke), fresh lemon juice and a bit of sugar shaken and served in a martini glass. It's smooth sipping for a family of smooth-talkers like the Larrabees. All three cocktails will be $9 each.

Cocktails will also be created for first-run films. For George Clooney's The Monuments Men, which comes out in February, Alamo Drafthouse is offering The Clooney, a margarita made with Clooney's Casamigos tequila. Don't let the fact that it's a movie theater margarita dissuade you -- it's one of the best in town. It's a simple margarita done right with reposado tequila, Cointreau, Grand Marnier and the ideal balance of simple syrup and lime juice served on the rocks.

Much like Alamo Drafthouse's films, the cocktail menu features a good mix of classics and new concoctions. The Manhattan is a straightforward, highly drinkable mix of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters. What makes this Manhattan -- and the cocktail program as a whole -- unique, though, is the emphasis on bringing local distillers into the mix. Just as the beer selection focuses on local, craft brews, so, too, does the liquor selection. The bar stocks Tito's vodka and Paula's Texas Orange (a local triple sec), as well as Herman Marshall whiskey, produced in Dallas, to liven up the Manhattan.

The Dark & Stormy makes its red-carpet debut at Alamo Drafthouse tonight!
The Dark & Stormy makes its red-carpet debut at Alamo Drafthouse tonight!

The classic Dark & Stormy is also a good bet, especially for people looking to ease into cocktails. It's a simple mix of Gosling's Black Seal Rum (no relation to Ryan Gosling) and ginger beer. Sweet, refreshing and a little spicy.

Of course, for a real treat, take a gander at the "Adult Milkshakes" portion of the menu. Before bringing liquor into the mix, the adult milkshakes were made with rich, dark beer. Not a bad pairing, but you know what's even better? A grasshopper shake with vanilla ice cream, crème de cacao and crème de menthe. Or a Mexican chocolate shake with reposado tequila, chocolate sauce and cinnamon. There's only one ounce of liquor per shake, so they definitely won't knock you off your feet, but they are mighty tasty indulgences.

Look out for the next monthly Girly Night at Alamo Drafthouse, where there will be a special cocktail paired with the movie. Next up is You've Got Mail. No word yet on what the signature drink will be, but you can bet it'll be sweet and romantic, just like the movie.

And as for that Big Lebowski quote along? Come on, dude. There will be White Russians at last.

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