We’re staying in and giving our entertainment resources a workout. Why not make it a leisurely experience where we get to watch some of the best travel-related movies and enjoy a tasty libation as well? There are so many movies that inspire us with an armchair traveler’s view of the world, and we thought it would be fun to suggest some appropriate pairings to set the mood.
Films often remind us of wonderful travel experiences we’ve had or inspire us to dream about where we want to go next. And we know a thing or two about drinks. Diana is a mixology school graduate who spent some of her early career crafting cocktails. Sue is a longtime fan of the global cocktail scene and knows a good drink when she tastes one.
Take a happy hour trip around the world with us. We’ll provide you with 29 suggestions for great films that will feed your wanderlust, each paired with a delightful beverage to enhance your experience. We’ll also share a bit about the film’s settings and links to drink recipes. These movies are available on multiple platforms (think Amazon, Google Play, Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube).
1. The Sound Of Music
Although this list is in no particular order, Sue’s favorite film of all time has to be first. This Rodgers and Hammerstein Oscar-winning musical masterpiece follows a young Austrian woman whose life takes a turn when she falls in love with a widowed naval officer and his children in Nazi-occupied Austria.
Cocktail Pairing: You’ll feel like one of the elegant party guests when sipping on your Champagne Cocktail.
2. Out Of Africa
A sweeping romance, Out of Africa captures the beauty and challenges that writer Karen Blixen-Finecke recorded in her memoirs. War, danger, and disease do not diminish the author’s love affair with the extraordinary country, its wildlife, or its people.
Cocktail Pairing: Try a Kenyan favorite, the Dawa Cocktail. Dawa means “magic potion” in Swahili, and this drink is bound to keep you spellbound, as will the film.
3. Midnight In Paris
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be in Paris during the 1920s, surrounded by artists, writers, and musical geniuses, you’ll love this fantasy trip back in time. An unhappy screenwriter is magically transported to a time and place where creativity reigns supreme.
Cocktail Pairing: We can think of no better pairing than a French 75 cocktail.
4. The Tourist
A fun romantic thriller, in The Tourist, a suspicious but alluring woman collides with an unassuming math teacher who’s taken a European vacation to mend his broken heart. The sumptuous locales around Venice will have you taking notes on all the beautiful places the characters go. You’ll want to eat at every restaurant and visit every site featured in the film.
Cocktail Pairing: You’ll feel right at home drinking one of Italy’s favorite cocktails, like an Aperol Spritz or classic Negroni.
5. Casino Royale
While the fictional casino lies in the fictional and elegant seaside resort of Royale-Les-Eaux, James Bond author Ian Fleming and his work have abundant associations with the real principality of Monaco.
Cocktail Pairing: This entertaining film exhibits the usual Bond swagger, so why not try the special Vesper Martini that Bond himself orders, shaken not stirred.
6. Mamma Mia!
The Greek Islands
This breezy musical weaves a plot involving a wedding and some long-lost romances out of ABBA songs creatively strung together to offer a joyous escape. Add veteran crowd-pleasers Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, and Colin Firth along with gorgeous scenery, and you will feel the tension drift away.
Cocktail Pairing: Make yourself an Ouzo Lemon Spritzer and enjoy the festivities. For an additional dose featuring the fabulous Cher, watch Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
7. Doctor Zhivago
While this epic romantic drama was set in Russia before World War I, the book was banned in the former Soviet Union for decades. Even so, the story of a man torn between his love for two women while revolution and reconstruction tear through his homeland is timeless.
Cocktail Pairing: Sipping on a White Russian might not help you hold back the tears, but it will taste good nonetheless.
8. The Darjeeling Limited
This comedy-drama tells the story of three brothers who set out on a train ride across India after the death of their father to try to reconnect. A visually appealing journey, the film is a nice little travelogue of the vast landscapes of India.
Cocktail Pairing: Bringing together different ingredients, just like bringing together feuding siblings, takes a bit of creativity, which is exactly what you’ll discover in this Indian spiced Masala Coke Cocktail.
9. Under The Tuscan Sun
Cortona, Tuscany, Italy
Watching Diane Lane trade in a life of disappointment for a new home, new love, and a new future in a charming Tuscan villa is reason enough to enjoy this delightful film.
Cocktail Pairing: Pour yourself a glass of Cortona wine like syrah, sangiovese, or sauvignon, and you’ll be dreaming of your own Italian villa getaway.
10. Memoirs Of A Geisha
This novel-turned-film shows the evocative evolution of a young girl from a fishing village who becomes a geisha. The film depicts Kyoto before, during, and after World War II. You can’t help getting sucked into the many twists and turns of this tale.
Cocktail Pairing: A few sips of Sake will cover you like a warm blanket and help you get through the emotional ride you’ll embark on when you watch this film.
11. Planes, Trains And Automobiles
New York To Chicago
We’ve all had those trips where things don’t quite go as planned. While it may not make us laugh when it happens to us, we certainly do laugh when it happens in this wacky buddy film starring comedy favorites Steve Martin and John Candy.
Cocktail Pairing: Make yourself a Boxcar cocktail and enjoy the antics from the comfort of your own living room.
12. Lawrence Of Arabia
It is hard to imagine a more visually stunning film than this epic story of a young British officer’s leadership of the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks. The sheer beauty of the film, and its portrayal of conflict, personal sacrifice, and political strategy, stands the test of time.
Cocktail Pairing: Enjoy this great recipe for Lawrence Iced T.E., which is named after the movie’s larger-than-life hero.
13. In Bruges
This dark comedy features Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson as Irish hitmen hiding out in Bruges, Belgium, from their vengeful boss, played by Ralph Fiennes. Being both set and actually filmed in Bruges, the film takes you on a tour of the city’s historic buildings, museums, parks, neighborhoods, and hotels.
Cocktail Pairing: Pair this film with a Chocolate Martini, the perfect cocktail for celebrating one of Belgium's greatest sweet treats.
Immerse yourself in the colorful but tortured world of Mexican surrealist artist Frida Kahlo. Mexico provides the backdrop for this roller coaster of emotion, creative spirit, physical pain, and artistic triumph.
Cocktail Pairing: This film calls for nothing less than a margarita on the rocks.
15. Crocodile Dundee
This lighthearted romantic comedy appeals to all of those who can relate to that “fish out of water” feeling. Whether you’re a big bad Aussie croc hunter or an American journalist, once you’re out of your typical routine, you can be sure that hilarity will ensue.
Cocktail Pairing: We can’t think of any better drink to pair with this than an ice cold Foster’s beer, mate.
16. Crazy Rich Asians
The name pretty much says it all. For a deep dive into the world of some rich, beautiful people, enjoy this semi-Cinderella story that shows off many of Singapore’s splendors and suggests the possibility of a happily ever after.
Cocktail Pairing: It would be hard to see this film with anything but a Singapore Sling (or two).
17. Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Los Angeles, California
Not only can you take a trip to Hollywood; you can time travel back to 1969, when Tinseltown was the land of crazy dreams and crazy characters. They’re all here live and in color, along with Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio. And there’s a bit more to this story than a quest for stardom.
Cocktail Pairing: We suggest you watch all the action with a Bloody Mary in hand.
18. The Blue Lagoon
If ever there was such a thing as cinematic eye candy, this is it. A tale of two beautiful kids shipwrecked on a South Pacific island who grow to maturity and discover the pleasures of being together in more ways than one, The Blue Lagoon will have you dreaming of tropical islands to visit in the future.
Cocktail Pairing: What could be a more perfect cocktail to go with this movie than Sex on the Beach? Nothing.
19. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Summer in Barcelona is busy enough, but when two women visit Barcelona and fall for the same irrepressible artist, they need to find a way to make sure there’s enough love to go around.
Cocktail Pairing: You can enjoy the wild ride with a pitcher of fruity Sangria by your side.
20. Papa Hemingway In Cuba
A young journalist travels to Havana in search of his idol, Ernest Hemingway. His time with the writer and a Cuba in turmoil helps him better understand what is important in his life.
21. A River Runs Through It
It’s easy to long for the simplicity and beauty of a life filled with fly fishing, mountains, and a river you can count on. Easy to long for, not easy to achieve. This love letter to Montana is filled with appreciation for the magical place its characters call home.
Cocktail Pairing: Enjoy this film with a Gin Rickey, the kind of refreshing cocktail you might’ve found while hiding out in Missoula during the Prohibition era.
A young man with Peter Pan syndrome goes on a journey of discovery in the city of his heritage. On a quest to find his grandfather, he encounters the city’s beautiful buildings, canals, and an exceptional young lady who makes him realize it might be time to grow up.
Cocktail Pairing: Pair with the grown up taste of a Copenhagen Cocktail.
When two struggling musicians, Guy and Girl, accidentally connect, their brief time together helps their talents shine.
Cocktail Pairing: A bittersweet romance, savor this film with an Irish Coffee.
24. Shirley Valentine
Women of a certain age in particular will enjoy this story of a fed-up British housewife who rediscovers her better self on Mykonos. We’ve watched this movie many times, and it still amuses us with charm and wit.
Cocktail Pairing: Fall in love with Shirley and have a Dirty Shirley cocktail, too.
Though there is also a 1954 version starring Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, we adore this 1995 remake with Julia Ormond and Harrison Ford as the chauffeur's daughter and rich businessman who ultimately realizes what true love is worth. As Sabrina declares in the film, “Paris is always a good idea.”
Cocktail Pairing: No surprise, our suggestion is to pair this film with a French Kiss.
26. Back To School
We couldn’t live with ourselves if we didn’t include this Rodney Dangerfield classic comedy in our roundup. Even though the characters stay put in their college town, we would argue that a dad and his son going to school at the same time is really quite a trip. Back to School was filmed on the grounds of University of Wisconsin-Madison, but Thornton Melon and his son Jason are enrolled at the fictional Grand Lakes University.
Cocktail Pairing: You’ll have a good time pairing Dangerfield’s antics with a Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned, of course!
One of the greatest love stories ever put on film, this wartime drama has it all. Love and sacrifice for a higher purpose and the stories of American expats in Morocco during World War II make this movie moody, evocative, and wholly unforgettable.
Cocktail Pairing: It’s only appropriate to sip on a Gin and Tonic as you’ll be transported to one of the most famous gin joints in all the world.
When a young man’s father dies just as his own life is unraveling, he travels to his father’s hometown in Kentucky and meets a delightful flight attendant who helps change his perspective about life, love, and himself.
Cocktail Pairing: Because Kentucky makes Drew feel like a winner, we think a classic Mint Julep goes perfectly with a story about redeeming imperfections.
29. Eat Pray Love
Several Places, Including Indonesia
During a time when we’re all exploring who we are as individuals and who we are as members of society, it’s comforting to watch someone else triumph through that journey. Elizabeth Gilbert’s travels exposed her to different cultures and taught her different lessons. She emerged from the experience enlightened, and we will, too.
Cocktail Pairing: Enjoy a Bali Trader cocktail, a distinct alternative to time in an ashram.
Cocktails And Cinema
Cocktails and cinema make a potent combination. While we’re at home right now, there are wonderful films that help us revisit favorite destinations or dream about new ones. Take some time to relax with a lovely drink and a visit to these cinematic destinations. When it’s time to prepare your itineraries again, you’ll have a whole world of ideas to include in your plans.
For more content created to inspire the grounded traveler, see more of TravelAwaits’ COVID-19 coverage here.