June 22: Billy Wilder’s Birthday

Billy WilderIf you asked any cinephile to name their favorite writer-directors, it’s a good chance that Billy Wilder would be one of the people they named. Wilder, who was born on this day in 1906,  was able to seamlessly bounce from drama to screwball comedy to noir thriller to romance. His are some of the funniest, darkest and sharpest scripts to ever come out of Hollywood’s. If you don’t believe me, check out his Academy Award resume:

  • 8 Best Director Oscar nominations (2 wins)
  • 12 Oscar nominations for Screenwriting (3 wins)
  • 5 of his films were nominated for Best Picture (2 wins)
  • Directed 14 Oscar nominated performances (3 wins)

Additionally, Wilder won five Writers Guild of America Award, one Directors Guild of America Award and the American Film Institute has named four of Wilder’s films amongst the 100 greatest American films ever made.

There’s no one cocktail associated with Wilder, although there is a bar named in his honor in Berlin, so I had to turn to his films to find an appropriate liquid tribute. After some thorough research, I came to realize that the Whiskey Sour would be the right way to toast Wilder. After all, a bottle of whiskey plays a key role in his heartbreaking best picture winning alcoholism drama The Lost Weekend and in Wilder’s farce The Seven Year Itch, Tom Ewell explains to Marilyn Monroe “I’m perfectly capable of fixing my own breakfast. As a matter of fact, I had two peanut butter sandwiches and two whiskey sours.” On top of all that, when done right the Whiskey Sour is slightly dark, a touch sweet and a little sour; just like Wilder’s best screenplays.

The Whiskey Sour

  • 2 ounces Whiskey
  • 2/3 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Pour the whiskey, lemon juice and sugar in to an old fashioned glass half-filled with ice and stir. Add an orange slice and cherry and serve.

Tomorrow: An underheralded songwriter, and the band he made famous.

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