I have always loved a square bar. There is something about the openness that creates a different kind of ambience and the perfect opportunity for people watching, or for meeting someone new if that’s what you’re looking for. In the movie Crazy, Stupid, Love, there is a beautifully sleek and distinctly modern square bar that sees lots of action. It’s where Ryan Gosling’s character, Jacob, does some of his best work. And it’s where he happens to meet Steve Carell’s character, Cal, who is newly single, and in need of a serious makeover and some expert guidance when it comes to picking up women. Jacob is a real player, and he gives Cal just the help he needs. He remains Cal’s coach and devoted wing man until he meets the girl of his dreams and falls for her, head over heels. “She’s a game changer,” Jacob tells Cal, who is happy for him, until he finds out that it’s his daughter Hannah (Emma Stone) that he’s dating. Complications ensue.
I’ve seen this movie a number of times, and have always thought of it as pretty much a benign rom-com that’s just fun to watch. With a great bar, of course. Choosing it for this post gave me the opportunity to take a look at it a bit more closely. There are lots of false pretenses and transformations that go on in this film. For starters, the bar may be beautiful with its mid-century modern aesthetic, gorgeous lighting, and beautifully displayed bottles, but at the end of the day, it’s a pickup joint and that makes it just a little sleazy. Jacob is polished as well, with his beautiful clothes and equally beautiful looks, but he goes home with a different woman every night, so he’s more than a bit of a sleaze too. And Cal is quickly heading in that same direction. Neither of them wants to be a player; on the contrary, they are both deeply lonely. Jacob wants to meet his game-changer, and Cal wants to get back with his ex-wife Emily (Julianne Moore) who happens to be having a sleazy affair of her own with a work colleague (Kevin Bacon). By the end of the movie, everyone has their wake-up moment when they figure out what it is that they really want, and how to go about getting it. It’s a beautiful thing.
The sleaze factor overload in this film that hides behind such pretty exteriors made me think of a little drink called Sex on the Beach. I decided to put it through a transformation of its own and make it into something just a bit more respectable. The original recipe calls for vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, and orange juice served on the rocks in a Collins glass. I kept the vodka, but chose the intensely smooth Claremont, which is locally distilled in Fairfield, NJ. I replaced the peach schnapps with Giffard Crème de Pêche Vigne, which is a beautiful peach liqueur whose delicate flavor does not cause sensory overload. I also used Mandarine Napoléan liqueur for the orange flavor, rather than orange juice itself, and I swapped out the cranberry juice for Synergy Organic Kombucha in Cosmic Cranberry to give the drink some effervescence and a modern feel. DRAM Apothecary Citrus Medica bitters finished things off, and serving the drink up in a cocktail coupe gave it just the classic look I was going for. As far as the name, I had no choice but to go with Jacob’s line. We all know when we’ve met our game-changer. Suddenly our whole world turns right side up. Cheers everyone. Happy Monday!
She’s a Game Changer
2 oz Claremont Vodka
¼ oz Giffard Crème de Pêche Vigne liqueur*
¼ oz Mandarine Napoléan orange liqueur*
1 oz Synergy Cosmic Cranberry organic kombucha**
¾ oz rosemary thyme simple syrup***
2 dashes DRAM Citrus Medica bitters****
Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until very cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange wedge. Enjoy!
*Both available at Traino’s in Mt. Laurel.
**MOM’s organic market and Whole Foods
***1 to 1 ratio of sugar dissolved in boiling water. Add the rosemary and thyme and steep until cool.
****Available online or at the Art in Age store on N. 3rd St. in Philadelphia.