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In time for the Oscars, movie-themed cocktails at Bambara

Published February 17, 2014 6:31 pm

Bar exam • Mixologists evoked character, rather than setting, with this year's themed cocktails.
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If Jordan Belfort, the wealthy stockbroker and lead character in "The Wolf of Wall Street," were to order a cocktail, it would have to be as extravagant and intense as his New York lifestyle.

In other words, no 3.2 beer on draft.

"It would have to be elegant, but abrupt and up front," said Austin Craig, the bartender who helped create the nine movie-inspired drinks for Bambara's annual Oscar-themed cocktail contest.

It's easy to cast your ballot: just go to Bambara's Vault Bar and buy the drink that corresponds with your favorite best movie nominee. They range from $10 to $15 each.

Voting takes place through Sunday, March 2, when the real Academy Award winners are announced. The mixologists will issue their Oscar predictions on Wednesday, Feb. 26.

Besides being a unique way to try a new cocktail, the contest gives Salt Lake City mixologists like Craig an opportunity to experiment with new combinations.

Last year, the drinks were inspired more by the film locations, Craig said. But this year, several of the drinks focus on characters' quirks and personalities. "I tried to imagine what each character would most likely order in the Vault."

Here are the nominees:

"American Hustle," $15 • For this film, set in the luxurious world of New Jersey crime brokers, Craig wanted to create a drink that was "big and fruity with a touch of sweet." He combined premium vodka, vermouth, lemon, tonic and grapefruit juice to create what he calls "Jennifer Lawrence in a glass."

"Captain Phillips," $11 • Tom Hanks on the high seas — with pirates — calls for a tropical, rum-based drink. This one includes grenadine and three fruit juices: cranberry, orange and pineapple.

"Dallas Buyers Club," $14 • The movie's Mexican drug smuggling scenes inspired this mix of premium tequila and peach schnapps.

"Gravity," $12 • With superstars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in lead roles, Craig was compelled to go big. He created a twist on a traditional Manhattan by mixing bourbon, ginger liqueur — instead of vermouth — and dash bitters. "It's a touch sweeter than the traditional and the ginger adds a spicy kick."

"Her," $10 • Made with premium gin, lemon juice, soda and topped with a splash of red wine, this drink is dedicated to Joaquin Phoenix, Craig said. "Initially his character is alone and single so he probably drinks a lot of wine. Then he gets involved with his operating system and needs to have gin."

"Nebraska," $10 • Bruce Dern's cross-country trip to reconnect with family inspired this Southern sweet tea drink. The fruit influences come from Mandarin vodka, peach schnapps and orange juice.

"Philomena," $10 • Dame Judi Dench is "elegant, but spicy," so Craig created a vodka drink with ginger liqueur and orange juice and served it in a martini glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar.

"12 Years a Slave," $15 • This harrowing historical epic is "all about pain and suffering," which makes creating a cocktail tricky, said Craig. But Brad Pitt's character seemed like an old-school bourbon drinker, so the creation includes premium bourbon, Galliano, soda, dash bitters and lemon.

"The Wolf of Wall Street," $15 • Craig said this high-octane drink — made with rose and cucumber-infused gin, vodka and elderflower liqueur — fits Belfort's "corporate style."


Vote for your favorite Oscar-themed cocktail

The mixologists in Bambara's Vault Bar have created cocktails to match each of the nine Best Picture nominees.

Where • Bambara, 202 S. Main St., Salt Lake City; 801-363-5454 or bambara-slc.com.

When • Available through Sunday, March 2. The mixologists will issue their Oscar predictions on Wednesday, Feb. 26.

Cost • $10-$15.