The day before St. Patrick’s Day it would be downright irresponsible of me to neglect the Irish contribution to cinema and booze in today’s Film Friday post. A few of my favorite films happen to be Irish including Intermission and Breakfast on Pluto, or feature Irish leads as in The Boondock Saints and In America. I even considered throwing a curve-ball with The Company of Wolves, which as a horror nerd I rank at the third best werewolf transformation scene after An American Werewolf in London and The Howling III: The Marsupials.
But I’ll save the gruesome horror and gore for another week. Instead I decided to go in the other direction with one of the most beautifully animated children’s films that I’ve ever seen, The Secret of Kells. Children’s cinema and booze are, admittedly, not the most obvious match. But I wouldn’t have chosen this flick if it didn’t hold at least as much appeal for adults as for children. Plus, the film’s got an Oscar nomination to back me up.
The plot is centered around the Book of Kells, a national treasure of Ireland. Drawn and constructed by hand by Irish monks around the 8th or 9th century, this extraordinary book is considered to be one of the greatest accomplishments in calligraphic art ever created. Hundreds of pages of Biblical text enfolded by artwork of immense complexity and skill make the Book of Kells an unparalleled treasure.
The Secret of Kells is about a young boy, Brendan, growing up at the Abbey of Kells. Brendan’s overbearing but well-meaning uncle is the abbot, dead set on protecting his people from raiding parties of Vikings. An old friend of the abbot’s comes from the recently destroyed abbey of Iona, bringing with him a half-completed book of unsurpassed beauty. At the same time, Brendan makes a mysterious new friend in the forest outside the abbey walls.
The real highlight of this film though is the artwork. The animators took inspiration from the artwork contained in the Book of Kells and you can see the patterns and unique perspectives framing our view of this world.
To accompany this film I looked for a rare breed of cocktail. I wanted something based on Irish whiskey, obviously, but to accompany a children’s film it shouldn’t be too strong. I am also naturally inclined to avoid the kitschy St. Patrick’s Day drinks like the Angry Irishman, Banshee, or the ubiquitous Everybody’s Irish. Eventually I settled on the Wild Irish Rose, a low alcohol drink that is lightly tart and entirely pleasant. We used Bushmill’s Irish Whiskey, which is relatively mild, but if you’d like to taste the whiskey a bit more you could try a bolder whiskey like Jameson or Feckin Irish Whiskey.
2 oz irish whiskey
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz grenadine
2 oz soda water
Shake the whiskey, lemon juice and grenadine together and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Top with soda water and stir.