The Best Booze Movies Ever

Where to stream these intoxicating films (and what to drink while watching)

November 30, 2023 6:34 am
Tom Cruise showing his tricks as a bartender in a scene from the film 'Cocktail', 1988.
Tom Cruise showing his tricks as a bartender in a scene from the film "Cocktail."
Touchstone Pictures/Getty Images

Let’s set the scene. It’s Friday night, and your plans are sparse. You could go to a show, you could camp out at your local, or you could settle into your couch and flip through Netflix, HBO or Amazon Prime. If you do opt for the couch potato route — said without judgment — consider cracking a bottle of something nice and picking one of these booze movies that pairs well with good drinks.

Watch Paul Giamatti rip through Napa Valley in his stick shift, depressed and ready to debate about the shortfalls of merlot. Tune into Tom Cruise shaking it up as a flamboyant flair bartender. Slip on your bathrobe and sip White Russians. Whatever you do, it’s the perfect time to cue up your Chromecast and kill a weekend with these booze-and-movie pairings.

Sour Grapes

The Drink: Moonshine

Sour Grapes is the wine world’s ultimate scammer flick. The documentary follows Rudy Kurniawan, a prolific collector turned wine fraud who was caught taking cheap bottles and relabelling them as six- and seven-figure cuvées from the best producers in Burgundy and Bordeaux. The FBI found him out, but not before he sold millions (millions) at auction. If you’re going to be watching a film about a person illicitly blending booze in his kitchen sink and bathtub, you might as well drink moonshine. (Streaming on Peacock, Pluto, Tubi and more)

Bottle Shock

The Drink: Chardonnay

Why are Napa Valley chardonnays and cabernet sauvignons so expensive? The reason is rooted in a 1976 event, where wine professionals blind-tasted through a selection of bottles from both California and France and to declare the best bottle in the world. The winner? Chateau Montelena Chardonnay from the Napa Valley, then an almost-unknown wine region run by hippies and farmers. Chris Pine plays the Chateau Montelena winemaker, while Alan Rickman is a Paris-based wine expert who organizes the competition. (Prime Video, Tubi, Peacock)


The Drink: Merlot

“Thin-skinned. Temperamental. In need of constant care and attention.” What Paul Giamatti is describing isn’t a person, it’s a grape — pinot noir to be specific. Giamatti being weird about wine is the general premise of the movie, following him as a depressed and divorced writer guiding his soon-to-be-wed actor friend (Thomas Haden Church) through the Santa Ynez Valley. They get up to all sorts of odd adventures but also manage to change the face of California wine in the process. Travel to Napa grew in popularity, and plantings of merlot (“If anyone orders merlot, I’m leaving. I am not drinking any fucking merlot.”) plummeted. Pour some out in his honor. (Not available for free streaming, but you can rent on Prime Video, Apple, etc.)

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The Thin Man

The Drink: Martini

The Thin Man protagonists are Nick and Nora Charles, a crime-solving couple, sleuths who are always sharp-witted and seemingly never sober. Throughout the 1930s film, the duo takes on corrupt cops and solves mysteries. Through their sleuthing, they somehow manage to turn the case back to Martinis, following a suspect (glass in hand) or debriefing on a case at a Martini bar while instructing the bartender on technique. “The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to foxtrot time, a Bronx to two-step time, but a dry Martini you always shake to waltz time.” The Nick and Nora glass — the small coupe Martinis are often served in — is named after the couple. (Max)

Weekend at Bernies

The Drink: Spaghett

This classic ’80s flick follows two near-numbskulls (played by Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman) as they cart their boss’s dead body around a summer home. Problem is, the home is filled with bikini-clad babes, Champagne bars and long sand beaches. It goes awry, obviously, in a slapstick and silly way. Sip an equally slapstick and silly drink: a Spaghett, or a shot of Aperol poured into a beer. (Available for purchase on most streaming sites)


The Drink: Espresso Martini

You could call Tom Cruise the godfather of flair bartending. In Cocktail, he shakes up sugar-slicked ’80s drinks and flirts with a few women, all while flipping and flinging his tins into the air. His specialities: Singapore Slings, Alabama Slammers, Death Spasms and Pink Squirrels. If those aren’t in your repertoire (understandable), sip an equally early aughts (and modern-day) drink like the Espresso Martini. (Paramount+)

Coyote Ugly

The Drink: Whiskey, Neat

If Tom Cruise was preoccupied with flipping and shaking his tins, the bartenders of Coyote Ugly focus on shaking, well, something else. It’s a movie adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s (of Eat Pray Love fame) mid-90s GQ essay that details her time working in a New York dive bar owned and staffed by women. Movie studios ran with it and turned it into a PG-13 movie following love, loss, sisterhood and serving up whiskey shots in snakeskin pants. (Available to rent on most streaming sites)


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