Would you like to sip with the stars? If the martini was made famous by the Bond movies, the old fashioned made a comeback with Don Draper from the Mad Men, while the cosmopolitan acquired cult status after Sex and The City. There’s something to be said about the power of influence that these movies or series wield on our lives and lifestyle choices, particularly on what we eat, drink and wear.
“Shaken, not Stirred.” Remember that?
It was the catchphrase used by James Bond and hints at his preference for the preparation of his martini cocktail. The connection between the Bond movies and the martini is so intertwined, that it’s almost impossible to order a vodka martini without powering your inner Bond. Sean Connery was the first Bond and also gets credit for being the first to say the line.
The vodka martini immediately brings to mind the imagery of James Bond, replete with a glass in hand, a glamorous woman at his side and a sense of looming danger. The martini conjures up an aspiration of a lifestyle of sophistication, glamour and peril.
Many martini aficionados will tell you that shaking a martini will spoil the drink, while some opine that gin martinis should be stirred and vodka martinis are to be shaken.
So why vodka and martinis?
Bond movies cost the earth to make, and are a marketers delight. So, it’s a match made in product placement heaven. Smirnoff vodka was one of the first products to be featured in the Bond movies. It’s possible that the reason you see so much vodka ordered up in Bond movies, has less to do with the storyline and more to do with marketing. So James Bond is responsible for a whole lot of things : ruined cars, broken hearts, explosions and an overwhelming number of people asking for martinis in bars.
There’s a certain rhythm to the line,
“Can I get an Old-Fashioned?”
And just like that, Don Draper brought the old-fashioned back from the grave. The phrase epitomised a modicum of elegance, grace and style of an era gone by. Don Draper was the embodiment of classic masculinity, polish and style. An ad man at the peak of his career, clean shaven, with perfect hair and supreme confidence. Women wanted him and men wanted to be him. They don’t make them like him anymore.
The Old Fashioned was his drink of choice. Before Mad Men entered our screens and our lives, the Old Fashioned’s were literally deemed to be like their name, “old-fashioned.” Mad Men changed that forever. Don Draper made the classic older version of things seem cool. He made us crave stories, heritage and history.
There is a deep connection between Mad Men, Don Draper and the Old Fashioned. It made us want to remember the past, instead of forgetting it. Just like the scene, where Don Draper and Conrad Hilton are two generations apart, but discover the most basic way to bond : with an old fashioned in hand and a shared abhorrence for being left out. The old-fashioned became a symbol of history, legacy and elegance. Less about the drink and more about the stories we recall with it.
So, we’ve covered the men and their drinks? But, what about the girls? While the martini was associated with James Bond and the alpha-male personality, the Cosmopolitan in Sex and The City (SATC) established the women leads as alphas in their universe. The Cosmopolitan was the perfect female counterpart for the Martini.
The first time the cosmo made its appearance on SATC is on the episode titled “The Awful Truth.” It made a more pointed appearance later in an episode titled, “The Chicken Dance,” when the fab four attend the wedding of Miranda’s interior decorator. An upset Samantha says, “Another Cosmopolitan, please.” And the rest is history.
So why did the Cosmopolitan become a trend? Well, it’s pretty, it’s pink and it’s popping, all while maintaining an air of elusiveness and therefore worth coveting. When Sarah Jessica Parker and gang began regularly sipping the pink drink on screens all over the world, people were very intrigued by what was in those long stemmed martini glasses. Whatever the show featured, right from Magnolia Bakery to Cosmos, signified what was “cool” and “hip” at that moment. If the show glamorised “bitchiness”, the Cosmopolitan became the “go-to” drink for the basic bitch and an integral part of drinking culture among women.
While blatant product placement can definitely influence our choices, subtle lifestyle symbols like cocktails and cupcakes also have their moment in the sun. It’s all about imagery and associations. The old fashioned depicts classic heritage and panache, the martini is associated with sophistication and glamour and the cosmopolitan is pretty, flirty and elusive. Most importantly, all of these required a back story and some star dust, to come back to life.
A drink isn’t just a drink anymore. It’s the sum total of aspiration, perception and imagination, all in a glass.