Oscars Entertaining & Giveaway

By Jason Varney

By Jason Varney

It's been a strong year for movies, with some incredible films grabbing our attention. Since the release of Movie Night Menus, we've been more wrapped-up in the Oscars than ever before. We've been watching the contenders' fates closely since at least the Golden Globes in January. Below you'll find our top tips to make your Oscars night memorable.

For a peep at our entertaining advice in the media this month, here's your virtual amuse bouche:

And now, may we present...



Our Top Oscars Entertaining Tips

1 . Do it right from the start

The Oscars are all about pageantry, and that begins with the anticipation and the invite. Physical invites are always tops, but a creative email blast can begin your guests' experience with a touch of glam.

2 . Dress it up

In that invite, encourage guests to dress to the nines.  

3 . Walk the red carpet (and photo booth)

It doesn't matter if it's a carpet sample from your neighbor's storage locker, put down something red to walk on. And always offer a photo booth -- even if it is just a backdrop taped to a wall, and the flashes are coming from your phone's camera.  

4. Prep Oscars ballots

It's no fun without a little skin in the game. Encourage guests -- even if they've only seen a couple of the contenders -- to participate. Offer PRIZES for winners. (Reminder: ballots need to be complete before the ceremony begins.)

5. Batch at least one cocktail

You want to put a drink in the hands of your guests right when they walk in. Have sparkling wine ready, a a beer option, and a batched cocktail. Then, we like to offer a self-serve bar with a few cocktail recipes set out on card stock. Encourage guests to bring a bottle with them if you like.

6. Fancy popcorn

No movie night is complete without the iconic crunchy snack.  See our recipe below for spicy popcorn that is paired with the movie Stagecoach in Movie Night Menus. Pssst...it works well in 2017 for Hell or High Water

7. The swag bag

The Oscars are famous for the goodie bags.  Make your own and give them to guests on their way home.

Photo credit: Andrew Purcell

Photo credit: Andrew Purcell

Spicy Popcorn

It takes almost no additional work to take traditional movie night popcorn to new heights with a few powders that most kitchens have on hand. - from Movie Night Menus

½ cup popcorn kernels
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
Lime zest, for garnish

In a half-cup measuring cup, measure out the popcorn and pour oil into the cup to fill it (about 3 tablespoons). This will coat the kernels. Heat a medium-size stockpot or Dutch oven, add popcorn and oil, and cover with a lid. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until popcorn nearly stops popping.

Remove the popcorn from the heat and dump it into a paper bag, then add salt, chili powder, garlic salt, cumin and paprika. Toss thoroughly and serve in bowls with grated lime zest.


Oscar Night Giveaways!

Speaking of swag, congratulations to Chris L. and Sarah V. (@revelmadison) for winning copies of Movie Night Menus in our last giveaway. 

For a chance to win on Oscar's night on Feb. 26, sign up for our newsletter! We'll be drawing 2 names and giving shout-outs on Twitter.

Movie Night Menus Pop-Up Dinner at Martha in Philadelphia

Friends, we're overjoyed to offer our first dinner and a movie screening for our new book, TCM's Movie Night Menus (Running Press 2016), on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 in collaboration with Martha, a Philadelphia bar specializing in local cuisine. Martha, one of our favorite haunts, will present the sultry classic Some Like It Hot (1959), starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon.

Martha's kitchen will prepare the menu, while we sign books and shower you with cocktails, popcorn, and more! We're so honored that many of our favorite food and spirits producers will be involved in this beautiful night -- and that Martha has secured licensing for one of our favorite TCM films. (Hand claps to owner Jonny Medlinsky and to Philadelphia Film Fest programmer/bartender Trey Shield!)

Details: Doors open at 5 p.m., followed by Oscars Quizzo hosted by resident movie nerd Trey Shields at 6 p.m., then the special dinner menu and movie presentation will begin promptly at 8 p.m.

The Menu: Start with snacks and a flight of Manhattans made with local New Liberties and Kinsey whiskeys, followed by a classic wedge salad topped with creamy blue cheese from Birchrun Hills Farm, then a whiskey-marinated grass-fed flank steak from Primal Supply. For dessert, there's sexy beet red devil cake with chocolate frosting for dessert.

Reserve: This movie screening is completely free, and there will be complimentary fancy popcorn served during the film, BUT table reservations for the movie are highly recommended and do require participation in either the $35 prix fixe dinner menu (vegan options are available) or the $60 all-inclusive package which provides drinks, dinner, and a personally autographed book. Please make your reservations as soon as possible (seats are very limited) by emailing: info@marthakensington.com.

Bonus Fun: Costumes/formalwear encouraged -- free cocktail, if you do.

Location: Martha2113 East York Street, Philadelphia, 19125, tel. 215.867.8881 @MarthaKensington

For the full menu & more:




Movie Night Menus: Breakfast at Tiffany's + A Cocktail

Photo: Andrew Purcell + Carrie Purcell

Photo: Andrew Purcell + Carrie Purcell

Oh, hey gorgeous, wanna snag a look-see at our next book, TCM's Movie Night Menus? It rolls out from Running Press on Dec. 27, in time for your New Year's Eve party, or maybe you're already starting to think "Oscars"?

Check out our excerpt below and find information about our TCM Twitter take-over on January 9th -- then string up some holiday lights, stock up on Champagne & ice cream, and sit down to watch Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

This drink, like Audrey Hepburn's role, is all bubbles and cream. It's a fabulous after-dinner sipper, in place of dessert, or as we recommend here: a festive brunch. Happy holidays!

-- André & Tenaya Darlington

Movie Night Menus Cover Image by Tenaya Darlington and Andre Darlington


Reprinted with permission from MOVIE NIGHT MENUS: Dinner and Drink Recipes Inspired by Films We Love © 2016 by Tenaya Darlington and André Darlington, Running Press





Soyer au Champagne with Berries

Cardamom-Cinnamon Twists (with Coffee)

A taxi rolls down 5th Avenue at 5 o’clock in the morning and stops in front of Tiffany’s. A passenger steps out, wearing a black evening gown with dark sunglasses. It’s an iconic movie moment: She lingers in front of the store’s diamond-lit windows and munches a pastry from a paper bag while sipping coffee from a paper cup. There you have it: breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Based on the book by Truman Capote, this film tells the story of Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn), a wisp of a girl with childlike charm and an outsized sense of style. She hosts wild parties in her bare-bones apartment, stores her rotary telephone in a suitcase to muffle its ring, and calls her upstairs neighbor Paul Varjack (George Peppard) “Fred” because he reminds her of a long-lost brother. Determined to put her small-town upbringing behind her, Holly strives to make an impression on everyone she meets—and she always does, with her hats, her bouffant hairstyle, and her cigarette holder.

About halfway through the film, Paul invites Holly to spend the day together doing things they’ve never done before, like popping Champagne before breakfast and wandering through the vault-like public library. All the while, Holly mulls over her future engagement to one of the richest men in the world—trying to deny the chemistry bubbling between her and Paul. It’s the story of two commitment-phobes falling in love.

Soyer au Champagne with Berries

 Because milk and bubbles figure prominently in this movie, we like to serve this classic cocktail. It seems like the sort of drink Holly would have loved. We’ve tricked it out with berries to create a breakfast cocktail parfait, best eaten with a spoon. Serve it in a large martini glass or wine glass placed on a saucer, with berries strewn lazily across the top and around the stem. It should look absolutely decadent.

½ ounce brandy

½ ounce orange curacao

½ ounce Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

1 scoop vanilla ice cream or gelato

2 ounces Champagne, to top off

Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish

Berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, currants)

Shake brandy, orange curacao, and Luxardo with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass over a scoop of ice cream. Top with Champagne and garnish with nutmeg and berries.

 Serve with a spoon and straw, if desired.

Tip: To prep this drink before a party, simply batch the spirits, shake over ice, strain into a jar or pitcher, then refrigerate. Place your glasses in the freezer to chill. When guests arrive, set out the ice cream, glasses, and dishes of berries. Assemble them all at once, or let guests build their own.

~ GUESS WHAT? We'll be doing a TCM Twitter takeover the night of Monday, January 9, 2017. TCM will run four movies featured in the book. Have a look at TCM's Movie Night Menus premier for January 9. We'll be live-tweeting "The Thin Man," starting at 9:15 pm (est).