Weekend Reccos: Under the Influence | Nat Geo Traveller India

Weekend Binge: Under The Influence

Spirited quests, a wacky alcohol-deficit theory and loads of dipso humour—team NGTI handpick their favourite booze-fuelled pop culture picks that will knock your socks off.  
Weekend Reccos: Under the Influence
Mads Mikkelsen in the closing sequence of Another Round (2020)

Movies

Another Round (2020)

The Danish film borrows its premise from Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skårderud’s theory that suggests the human body has an inbuilt alcohol deficiency. Mads Mikklesen is Martin—a history teacher, who along with his colleagues Tommy (Thomas Bo Larsen), Peter (Lars Ranthe) and Nikolaj (Magnus Millang) embark on an absurd experiment to see if alcohol can help them discover the lost zing in their lives. What starts as a tipple trial soon turns into a cocktail for disaster. The film’s essence lies in its sheer mayhem, and Mikklesen dazzles in a mention-worthy choreography. The location (Copenhagen) isn’t of much substance, but the Danish way of life very much is. Much like fine wine, Another Round ages well with each watch.

—Pooja Naik

 

Withnail and I (1987)

This Bruce Robinson comedy, set in ’60s London, takes penniless bacchanalia, pours some excellent British comedy and alcohol-fuelled adult angst into it, and puts it on the road for a dippy trip to the Cumbrian countryside. A couple of bums—the snappish, shabby, rakish, Shakespeare-quoting Withnail, and the meeker and more proper Marwood—constantly hunt for ale and whisky, scandalising uptight tearoom proprietors and stealing expensive wine from the former’s uncle’s impressive stash. While Marwood is the neutral to his pal’s hot wire, Withnail must drink—even if it’s lighter fluid. Still regarded as one of the finest depictions of drunkenness in film as far as performances go, Withnail and I has some of the most-quoted lines and scenes too (“We want the finest wines available to humanity!” or, “I demand to have booze”).

—Prannay Pathak

 

Sideways (2004)

California’s picturesque Santa Barbara wineries seem like a tame road trip for long-ago college roommates Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Church), but you’ll soon find this adventure into wine country is corked. While Miles’ oenophile sensibilities can turn into a little more than a penchant for pinot, Jack is more interested in chewing gum during tastings and philandering on his fiance with ‘pour girls.’ With dialogue that yields a velvety mouthfeel of middle-age malaise, this exploration of life past its proverbial peak features a full-bodied breakdown and an aftertaste of ennui—paired with borderline slapstick humour and a seriously solid tour of the region’s terroir and wine culture. The Santa Barbara Tourism Board hosts tours of the vineyards featured in the film, just avoid swilling spittoons and hissing “I’m not drinking any f**king merlot!”

—Julian Manning

 

The Thin Man (1934)

1930s New York was a roaring time for drinking. And stylish sleuthing couple, Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy), based on characters created by Dashiell Hammett, never run out of hics or humour. While six Thin Man films were made, the first is the best place to start, featuring the couple trying to solve the disappearance of a prominent city businessman. These might be the most casually efficient detectives to grace the screen ever, deducing crime scenes with the pizzazz they reserve for mixing cocktails, doling out timeless tips to boot in the process: “A Manhattan you shake to foxtrot time, a Bronx to two-step time but a dry martini you always shake to waltz time.”

—Lakshmi Sankaran

 

Books

Shadows in the Vineyard (2015)

Author Maximillian Potter’s riveting true-crime account of a plot to poison the vineyard roots of Domaine de la Romance-Conti, an uber-expensive, prestigious winery in France’s Burgundy region, reads like a racy intrigue of secrecy and family drama. Such was the notoriety of the threat that the government of France employed its finest policemen to hunt down the culprit who would dare such heresy. Potter builds his central narrative around the case but it’s his keen eye for the ornery habits of winemakers and the medieval passions the drink elicits that keep you entertained. You may never drink the Romanée-Conti, but this is the closest you might come to tasting its glory.

—Lakshmi Sankaran

 

The Long Goodbye (1953)

“A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow.”

The iconic gimlet makes twenty-one appearances in Raymond Chandler’s sixth novel, which was written close to the writer’s discovery of the old naval drink. Chandler’s iconic PI Philip Marlowe has a penchant for the tangy tipple: a classic cocktail that was concocted as a cure for scurvy in the 1880s. Three of them at a time cannot do a thing to him, and he doesn’t like people tinkering with it too much. In the book, Marlowe, and the novel’s other central character, a wastrel named Terry Lennox, forge a friendship drinking evening gimlets. Both Lennox and Marlowe are known for their love of good liquor and it plays out nicely in The Long Goodbye, which is set in a feverish, morally ambiguous L.A., where the latter is known to reside in his Hollywood Hills apartment. In my view, Philip Marlowe the dipso easily surpasses Gussie Finknottle and Jay Gatsby, and has a slight edge over Alec Leamas, besides being the best possible distillation of the American novelist’s famously drunk self.

—Prannay Pathak

 

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