Product of NYU, champion of bravura film-making, the grand vision behind almost every gangster film ever shot, and unabashed lover of all things cinema, Martin Scorsese has no equal. The only challenging part in his filmography, really, is narrowing it down to five top movies. Even through the lens of a beer, wine, or liquor bottle, this proved challenging. We welcome your other essential beverage/movie pairings in the comments section.
Taxi Driver (1976)
After watching this harrowing tale of Robert DeNiro, in a star-making performance, prowling the mean streets of 1970s New York City, you’ll want a strong drink, especially after its bloody conclusion. But you can numb a bit of that impending violence and temper the overall anxiety inspired by this film by tossing back a few beers. Go with tall boys, the kind found in any city corner deli. Or a fifth of cheap booze. Either way, just have it in a paper bag to fit the mood.
More adulation and hyperbole has been written about this film than any other on Scorsese’s resume—and with good reason. And while a shot of vodka would match the rush of all that groundbreaking steady cam camera work, instead we turn to the tension-filled dinner scenes (in Italian restaurants, at home, in jail…) for inspiration and suggest a few bottles of good Chianti. A few glasses of wine should also help mellow the intensity of the cocaine-fueled chase scene that leads to the protagonist’s downfall.
Gangs of New York (2002)
This one split critics and audiences, but for all the times that the story about Leo and Cameron Diaz’s characters drains momentum from the movie, Daniel Day Lewis’ star turn as William Cutter, also known as the meat cleaver-wielding Billy the Butcher, really ratchets everything up to 11. Go with something strong—preferably rock gut and Irish. And if you dare, do like the Butcher himself: set the drink on fire. As he explains to Leo’s character, Amsterdam Vallon, he drinks a flaming glass of booze each year in honor of Prince Vallon’s death (Amsterdam’s father, naturally killed by Billy himself).
Boardwalk Empire (2010-2014)
Yes, this isn’t a movie (nor, if HBO is to be believed, is it strictly TV). But including this epic tale of Atlantic City during Prohibition is a no-brainer for this list. The selection of booze, naturally, should follow the seasons-long arc. Start with whiskey (American-made, or Canadian), or go for a few glasses of red wine (which flows like a river whenever the Italian characters all meet), and then end with rum, the last libation to mark Nucky Thompson’s ambitious plan to go legit.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
What goes well with Quaaludes? If this film—Scorsese’s latest tour de force—is to be believed, pretty much anything—and lots of it. But to honor the nouveau rich excesses, get several bottles of overpriced Champagne and drink it like it’s water. Or just open it and leave it. Either way, midget tossing isn’t advised.
Honorable Mention: The Aviator (2004)
For this one, forget the booze. Howard Hughes certainly lives the playboy excess lifestyle in his early years, but in honor of the more…unique…elements of the third act, stick with water. And be sure to have a lot of empty mason jars in which to collect that urine.