July 28: North By Northwest

MCDNOBY EC002In 2012, British Film Institute’s decennial Sight & Sound poll of the greatest films of all time named Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo best motion picture ever made. Now, Vertigo is an amazing movie and easily one of Hitchcock’s best. However, I personally think that Hitchcock’s most rewatchable and endlessly entertaining film is North By Northwest, which was released on this day in 1959.

The fourth and final collaboration between Hitchcock and cinematic icon Cary Grant, North By Northwest is a classic Hitchcockian tale of mistaken identity and danger: One day at lunch, New York advertising executive Roger Thornhill (Grant) is mistaken for a spy named George Kaplan. Thornhill soon finds himself pursued across the country by dangerous men and even framed for murder. The only person who could possibly help save his life is a mysterious and beautiful woman named Eve, perfectly played by Eva Marie Saint.

This is a movie that has everything: Adventure! Suspense! Romance! Action! Humor! Mystery! There’s even a bit of guerrilla filmmaking, as Hitchcock secretly shot a key scene in front of the United Nations, without the UN’s approval. Really, if you haven’t seen this North By Northwest, why not make a nice drink and watch it tonight?

But what drink should you make? Well, after their initial meeting, Thornhill and Eve have dinner and drinks on a train and Thornhill orders a Gibson. The Gibson is possibly the oldest variation on the Martini, although no one’s really sure how the drink came about. The most popular story is that the artist Charles Dana Gibson challenged a bartender to improve upon the Martini. The bartender accepted Gibson’s challenge and subbed in a pearl onion in place of the traditional olive.

The Gibson

  • 2 ounces Gin
  • 1/3 ounce Dry Vermouth

Stir well with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a pearl onion.

Tomorrow: An artist, a rocket and a cocktail named for another combination of an artist and a rocket.

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