Time to get gussied up and pass out the ballots. You may not be invited to next Sunday's 86th annual Academy Awards, but the front-row couch at home is the perfect spot to catch glimpses of glitz -- and sip a few inspired cocktails.
Whether you'll be rooting for "Gravity" with a tequila-based Out of this World or prefer clutching an updated version of the 1970s Harvey Wallbanger to accompany your "American Hustle" hurrahs, we've got you covered with a cocktail menu that celebrates some of the best picture nominees -- and a best music (original score) nominee we couldn't resist.
Here are five cocktails created by some of the Bay Area's finest mixologists.
Brentwood's Manny Hinojosa, national mixologist for Bacardi USA, has a soft spot for "Gravity" and its director, Alfonso Cuarón. "We're almost the same age and grew up in the same part of Mexico City," Hinojosa says. In the spirit of the motherland, and its, er, national spirit, Hinojosa suggests a spicy tequila-based cocktail to represent the heart-pounding, astronaut drama-thriller. Out of this World features Tequila Cazadores Reposado 100 percent Blue Agave, unfiltered apple juice, ginger beer and a dash of chipotle powder. Hinojosa suggests setting up a tostada bar for your guests to pile on the grub as they sip and cast their votes.
"Wolf of Wall Street"
Hinojosa's It's Never Enough represents the rise and fall of a New York stockbroker (played by Leondaro DiCaprio) who ultimately turns to crime and corruption after living the high life.
"It was definitely a roller coaster watching this movie," Hinojosa says of the dark comedy. "(The character) wanted the best of everything, the best suits, the best cars."
And he definitely liked his martinis. So Hinojosa created this elegant cocktail made with Bombay Sapphire East Gin, muddled white grapes and St. Germain Elderflower liqueur topped with Champagne. Serve it with prosciutto-wrapped melon slices (and a diamond-encrusted watch, if available).
For director David O. Russell's fictional tale of scams and sting operations, Stephen Shelton and Jimmy Marino of Los Gatos' The Lexington House created the Wallbanger's Hustle, a contemporary version of the Galliano-based Harvey Wallbanger.
"That was a quintessential cocktail in the '70s, and so fitting for this movie," Marino says.
Shelton, in particular, felt that the Harvey Wallbanger was a decent drink with an unfortunately bad rap (like some would-be con men). The bar masters reinvented the recipe, breaking down and replacing the flavor profile of Galliano with a combination of Becherovka, a Czech liquor that tastes like "Christmas in liquid form"; St. George's Absinthe Verte for its anise notes; and Licor 43, a Spanish vanilla liquor.
"We kept the orange juice but cut it down, so this is a boozier, modern take," Marino says. Try it with fish tacos topped with a spicy fruit salsa.
"Saving Mr. Banks"
Eric Grenier of Emeryville's Honor Kitchen & Cocktails has the ideal cocktail on his menu for this film, in which "Mary Poppins" author P.L. Travers embarks on a journey to adapt her book for the big screen. Grenier calls it the Leap of Faith.
"At first she (Travers, portrayed by Emma Thompson) was unwilling to concede to the studio's interpretations and had to take a leap of faith, so to speak, placing her beloved nanny in the hands of Walt Disney with an outcome that ultimately exceeded her expectations," Grenier says.
He hopes the cocktail, made with rye whiskey, spiced blood orange liqueur and pimento bitters, exceeds yours. If you're partial to sweet libations, add a spoonful of sugar. We won't tell. Grenier likes to serve the cocktail with Honor's winter duck sausage plate.
District Oakland's general manager Danny Baker is a poet at heart. For this romantic dramedy, which stars Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore, a divorcé in love with the sexy voice of his computer operating system's voice, Baker created a sumptuous layered cocktail, Love's Second Chance, to represent the women in Theodore's life.
As Baker explains, the cocktail starts the same way Theodore and his ex, Catherine, got along: as simple and familiar as a lemon martini (vodka, lemon juice, agave). But that fills only half of Theodore's life (and this drink). The second half is Samantha, the voice, and Isabella, a sex surrogate, represented by sweet black cherry liqueur and brandied cherry juice. Like the cocktail, the candied lemon wheel garnish has two stories: At first glance, it's a basic lemon garnish. But, a closer look -- and quaff -- reveals sparkling candy that dazzles the palate. Serve it with cambozola cheese fondue.
Reach Jessica Yadegaran at firstname.lastname@example.org.