Where to begin with this list? Metropolis? George Lucas’ first, THX 1138? Which of the Star Treks? Honestly, choosing just five classic science fiction films is like having two dozen kids and being asked to pick the ones you love the most. But we have to start somewhere, so we turned to the films that defined sub-genres in the sci-fi scene. The ground-breaking films. And then we chose appropriate alcoholic beverages to drink, so that you eventually agree with us.
Empire is arguably the more affecting of the first three films, but nothing beats the original Star Wars for its audacious re-imagining of what film can do. The movie wears its feudal society influence on its sleeve, yet still remains a wholly original vision. Celebrate this all-time classic with a drink or two inspired from the famous cantina scene (the original version, where Han Solo actually shoots Greedo, thanks very much) like a Dark and Stormy, or how about an Orange Grapefruit Twist, a mix of cucumber vodka, grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and bitters that’s a brilliant, bright otherworldly orange.
Deliberately paced, acted, and shot, the classic has it all, from apes to space travel to the artificial intelligence of Hal slowly asserting his control. But it does lack in hedonistic boozing, save when Dr. Floyd shares a drink with a few Russian space scientists. Honor this bit of global cooperation by diving into a Cold War-era vodka like the Russian Standard, the best-selling vodka in the country (today…and perhaps in 2001).
In space, the tag line read, no one can hear you scream. Not so in the movie theaters of 1979 when this Ridley Scott masterpiece hit the screen, especially during one unforgettable scene on a kitchen table. Though more classic horror than full-on sci-fi mind-bender, the media franchise it spawned has entertained for decades, and its visual effects scored an Academy Award. And while the labels on Sierra Blanca’s Alien beers (the Amber Ale and Wheat) look more Area 51 than H.R. Giger (the visual artist behind the alien), it’s a nice, literal match. Of course you could try to chase down a bottle of Absinthe Brevans, made from a recipe that dates back to 1897 and featuring artwork from Giger himself. Better still, travel to one of the Giger bars in Switzerland and sip whatever you like while sitting in a room that resembles a xenomorph’s hive.
The most recent movie on this list by a matter of decades, Christopher Nolan’s Inception doesn’t travel through space or pit earth against aliens, but it’s a true mind-bender of a sci-fi film, displaying images and scenarios never before captured on film. Dream theft, fight sequences in a rotating hotel room, up-ending Paris’ streets, and—another sci-fi trope—a nebulous ending make it one of the 21st century’s enduring classics. Echo the film’s love of densely constructed layers with an equally layered drink like a B-52 or Tequila Sunrise. Hell, even a Black and Tan will do.
The urban dystopian sci-fi that defined them all, complete with androids, echoes of Film Noir, evil corporations, and Harrison Ford. Fresh off directing Alien, Ridley Scott was on a roll, and the confidence and vision is evident in every frame (his next act? The famous “1984” commercial for apple). If there is a god of cinema, this movie will never be remade. Ford’s Deckard drinks a fair amount in the movie, so you can join him by stirring up a Margarita with mescal—and include the worm if you can find a bottle with a worm; they’re visible, bobbing in the bottom of the glass he consumes in one of the bar scenes.
Honorable Mentions: Too many (see the introductory paragraph), but also Terminator (Patron Silver, in honor of the second film’s hallucinatory liquid-metal robot), your favorite Star Trek (whatever the blue-skinned woman wants to drink), ET (something with Reece’s Pieces) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (several shots of vodka so that making sculptures out of mashed potatoes seems like a good idea).