Before the Summer of Love (and the hipness of weed), San Franciscans were alcoholics who occasionally visited the loony bin after an epic bender. The year was 1962, and it was filled with Days of Wine and Roses. Or maybe just the wine. OK, fine, they were fifths of gin and whiskey.

It all starts somewhere, and Kirsten’s (Lee Remick) first drink is with Joe (Jack Lemmon), who orders her a sweet and cloying Brandy Alexander. And then they elope, have a kid, and become each other’s enablers. Kirsten almost burns the house down, and Joe drinks himself out of jobs and various apartments.

Nowadays, San Francisco cocktails are about quality, not quantity–at least for people who are not hipsters drinking tall cans of PBR in the park/students. The locavore movement has invaded the bar, with hoity-toity results: bartenders become “mixologists,” bars require passwords. We’re so close to wine country that we might as well be snobby with all alcoholic beverages.

All jabs aside, the city truly loves to show off its cocktails. San Francisco even hosts a local version of World Cocktail Week. In the meantime, locals know to head over to Absinthe for a Galapagos or sip on an Old Fashioned at Alembic. At home, bartending is the new cool thing to pick up, especially if you’re making your own maraschino cherries and squeezing fresh, seasonal juice.

But then there’s that uglier side that Days likes to marinade in: alcoholism. Did Alcoholics Anonymous back this movie or something? Because somewhere in the latter half of the film, it all becomes a big jerk-off session to the efficacy of AA. AA gets people sober…and up on cigarettes it seems. It’s a good thing, really. Today, as long as you’re puffing away, there’s no way you’re stepping inside a bar as long as that thing’s still lit.

Perhaps the real reason Kirsten hits the bottle is the self-proclaimed “roach kingdom” in which she resides. Joe tries to help her out with a little bit of bug spray, which drives the whole apartment building into a shouting match in the hallways. One fellow tenant yells, “People in apartment buildings gotta learn to leave roaches alone.” Ah, city housing. Sometimes nature just has to run its course. San Francisco, always the environmentalist.

But in case you need to self-medicate in response to a roach infestation, pour yourself Kirsten’s favorite drink. Better yet, feed it to the roaches in hopes of poisoning the suckers.

  • 1 part brandy
  • 1 part dark cr
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