When you see whiskey in movies, you know things are about to get real: from the celebratory to the ominous, in the glass of a hero or a villain, no drop is poured on the big screen without something big about to happen.
Legendary Russian writer Anton Chekhov codified a trope known as Chekhov’s Gun: an element that appears in a story must be necessary even if seemingly superfluous when first shown. For example, a gun (hence the dramatic device’s name) shown in act one, will surely be fired before act three. In the case of whiskey in movies we can say the same, as a bottle of the good stuff simply won’t go unopened once brought to our attention.
We have gathered some of the most memorable whiskey scenes in film, so pour yourself a glass and tune in as these moments call for a toast.
James Bond sure knows how to enjoy a fine drink. Well known Martini sipper, 007 also has a soft spot for Champagne (who doesn’t?) and an appreciation for Scotch. When Javier Bardem’s Silva offers him a drop of 50 year old Macallan whisky, the mad man du jour makes sure to mention he remembered it’s Bond’s favourite.
The tension increases as the spirit is not the only shot fired…
Bill Murray’s Bob is a melancholic and sophisticated has-been. His elegance and western charms with just a hint of desperation make him perfect to star a commercial for Japanese whiskey Suntory, meant to be aired solely in Japanese media. He might not be up and coming anymore, but the brand is paying him a hefty check of $2 million so, for relaxing times, make it Suntory time!
While there’s no mention of the whisky’s brand in the tavern visited by Tarantino’s gang of undercover Nazi hunters, it is said to be fine stuff. Once Lt. Archie’s cover has been blown by the enemy, he lights a cigarette and calmly says “there’s a special rung in hell reserved for people who waste good Scotch”, then he hurries his glass with a hand and shortly after pulls the trigger with the other.
What follows is the only possible outcome of a standoff in the bloodthirsty director’s universe.
The Statesman are the “American cousins” of the Kingsman and being in the States, it’s only fair that the whiskey of choice is Bourbon. This film takes product placement to the next level, as the Kentucky gold plays a major role in the story and the specific edition was bottled specially to accompany the film.
We’ve seen Kevin Spacey sipping copious amounts of Bourbon in House of Cards, but as Horrible Bosses’ Dave Harken, he’s more of a Scotch man. He ceremoniously serves a glass of it to his employee, a hilariously resentful Jason Bateman, who gets bullied into chugging it at 8:15 in the morning.
Captain Kirk gets a very earthling birthday surprise after Dr. McCoy steals a bottle of whisky from Chekhov’s locker. Being Russian, it’s no wonder that they had always assumed Chekhov would be a “vodka guy” however, he seems to know his single malts. Kirk and McCoy toast, serving a third glass in honour to the captain’s late father.
While apple pie gets more action in this teen comedy, one of the highlights of the movie involves a scene in which Stiffler’s mom enjoys an 18 year old. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) separates from the group at a party only to stumble into Mrs. Stiffler, who offers him Scotch and some attention.
What to do when you’re stuck during the worst ice storm the world has ever seem? We like the way they think at the Scottish research station in this cheesy disaster movie. One of the men in the group suggests to fuel the dying power generator with the whisky while a more senior member of the team doesn’t take that suggestion so well: “Are you mad?,”he says, “That’s a 12 year-old Scotch!” and proceeds to get some lowball glasses.
Two of them toast to mankind while the third takes the chance to raise his glass to Manchester United. That’s priorities!
Johnny Depp’s odd-looking Edward Scissorhands is treated to a glass of liquor by Kim’s father. When he asks what is it, the man tells him it’s lemonade, but looking at its dark golden colour and the assortment of bottles behind the home bar, we can easily do the math. Poor Edward struggles to hold the lowball glass so he drinks it through a straw.
Spoilers: he didn’t enjoy it.
Ron Burgundy loves Scotch. We are made aware of his passion very early in the film as Will Ferrell’s iconic character professes his predilection as the credits roll. “I love Scotch, I love Scotch. Scotchy Scotch, Scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly. Mmm, mmm, mmm”, as he eloquently puts it.
Here’s a horror story for whiskey snobs. Jack sits alone by the bar, and after the bartender asks him what will he have he goes: “So here’s what, you slip me a bottle of Bourbon, a little glass and some ice.” The scary part, obviously, is that he gets served what clearly looks like a bottle of Jack Daniel’s which is actually a Tennessee Whiskey.
A bit of Jackception, a character named Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson and drinking Jack Daniel’s. To make it extra uncanny, his son’s name in the film is Danny!
This is comedy gold: Marilyn Monroe is looking stunning as Sugar Kane and she’s ready to share a cheeky bottle of Bourbon with one of the cross-dressing guys hiding as musicians in an all-girl band. The occasion is about to turn into a secret party for two but then they’re surprised by Sugar’s colleague who happens to still have “that bottle of vermouth.”
“We can make Manhattans!” Marilyn says with a smile in a hilarious case of unaware third wheeling.
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.