The drink of choice can tell you a lot about a character. When Dr. McCoy steals Chekhov’s whisky in Start Trek Beyond, he and Captain Kirk talk about how they always assumed he’d be a “vodka guy.”
Now, many characters are seen sipping on whiskey to show anything from worldly sophistication (think Bob in Lost in Translation) to ad absurdum manliness (a la Ron Burgundy).
But, who drinks vodka in the big screen?
I think the way a spirit is repeatedly protrayed in movies eventually resonates with the audience, sometimes to the point of becoming truly influential, as in James Bond’s Martini, a drink that can be made with either gin or vodka (or both). Despite being an Englishman, Bond goes for vodka more frequently than gin, as this montage illustrates:
On the small screen, Sex & the City’s Cosmopolitans are often credited for bringing back to fashion the fruity vodka-based cocktail, to the point that it became so commonplace that no real life Carrie would be caught dead ordering one these days (I’d guess she’d be more likely to go for an espresso Martini in this decade).
But posh ladies on a night out don’t have the monopoly on Hollywood vodka.
In fact it is often the drink of choice of Russian men who are about to pull off a power move. Ivan Vanko, the villain in Iron Man 2 drinks it, and so does Viktor Petrov, the fictional president of Russia in the now tainted House of Cards. The “Obosaya Sayanska” vodka bottle featured in an episode of the show is inspired by a real life bottle called Russo Baltique and priced at $893,563.00 and made of solid gold.
In season three of Peaky Blinders, the above trope is turned up to eleven. As Tom Shelby deals with a family of Georgian aristocrats, they organised a party that makes the word decadent feel like an understement. The constant flow of vodka everyone drinks is probably the most wholesome thing hapening on the night.
Speaking of Russians… On a more light-hearted note, cult comedy The Big Lebowski gave the spolight to White Russians and has become one of the most often quoted films in “cocktails from movies” lists. The Dude had a soft spot for this creamy and sweet vodka cocktail, and it almost singlehandedly brought the drink back to menues after intriguing audiences with it in 1998.
Another cult comedy is also responsible for a renaissance of another forgotten cocktail. The Blues Brothers caused a mini revival of the Orange Whip, a sweet cocktail made with rum, vodka, cream and orange juice. The drink is ordered by Detective Burton Mercer, who attends the film’s iconic concert. His two colleagues don’t seem too interested in one, but he orders a round anyway.
Also from the eighties, there’s the Red Eye, another vodka-fuelled concoction assambled by Tom Cruise’s soon-to-be-boss in Cocktail. In fairness, it is never specified in the film that it is vodka, but what else could it be?
More recently, vodka-loving femme-fatale, Atomic Blonde slayed a partnership with Stolichnaya, a vodka brand featured eight times in the film, and ordered by Charlize Theron’s action heroine twice by name. In case you’re wondering, Agent Broughton drinks her Stoli on ice. The brand even sponsored the red carpet premier of the movie.
Vodka also makes a cameo in Ocean’s 8, as Lou Miller (Cate Blanchett) is seen leading a team as they water down a large amount of bottles of vodka to be sold at a nightclub. She is confident she’ll get away with it, “because when you’re drunk, it takes like vodka.”
Another recentish action film features vodka in a less glamorous light. The Bourne Supremacy has a scene in which Jason is being chased in a shop. He grabs a bottle of vodka from the shelf, uses it as a weapon, spits it to the face of a policeman and steals a car. I doubt that one was product placement.
Matt Damon’s vodka moments on screen are not all that aggressive though, in Downsizing, we can see him on a miniature boat after having gone through the downsizing process. The boat is pulling a load with a few bottles of Absolut Vodka, which seems gigantic compared to the miniature passengers (the brand also features in the movie’s trailer for a second, as a line of downsized people queue to fill their jugs).
Going back to silly territory, a bottle of vodka becomes a big deal for the guys from teenage comedy Superbad… There is a house party and Evan (Michael Cera) asks Becca is she’d like him to get her any booze, she asks him for a bottle of “Goldslick vodka”, the one “with the little golden flakes?” he asks, and she says “yes, the girly one.”
More comedy? Let us close this list with a scene from Bridget Jone’s Diary in which she has a choice. A choice between giving up and accepting a “permanent state of spinsterhood” or not. Faced with those two options, she chose vodka.
Do you remember another vodka scene in movies? Please let me know!