The Godfather, one of Brando’s favorite drinks

Brian Rung

    “Revenge is a dish best served cold” and “I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse.”
    This summer marks the 45th anniversary of the release of the iconic film “The Godfather” starring Marlon Brando. The film will be showing in select theatres this summer as part of a re-release in honor of the anniversary.
    “The Godfather” was nominated for 10 academy awards, winning in three categories including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screen Play.
    This week we toast this masterpiece of American cinema with one of Mr. Brando's favorite cocktails, The Godfather.
    “The Godfather” was an instant classic, both a smash at the box office and a hit with critics. In the 45 years since its initial release “The Godfather” has grossed over $280 million in box office receipts (inflation adjusted) making it one of the top 25 grossing films of all time.
    The film almost single handedly created the gangster genre in modern film.  You would be hard pressed to find a bad review of “The Godfather” from any reputable film critic.
    “The Godfather” was a lock for best picture at the 45th Academy Awards in 1973, but it was the presentation of the award for Best Actor that created perhaps the most memorable moment in the aftermath of the film.
    Younger fans and movie geeks know that Marlon Brando was awarded Best Actor for his role as Don Corleone. What many may not know (or may have forgotten) is that not only did Brando not accept the award at the ceremony, he refused it altogether.
    The award for Best Actor 1972 is officially recorded as Marlon Brando, The Godfather (refused). When an Academy Award is refused the award is held up, it is not given to the actor with the next highest vote total.
    Brando had grown increasingly upset with the treatment of Native Americans in the film industry, noting that many Native American actors were typecast into limited roles and were not fairly compensated for their work. Prior to the 1970's many portrayals of Native Americans in lead roles were performed by Caucasian actors.  
    Outside of the film industry, Brando supported the American Indian movement which was involved in Native American activist causes including the 1973 incident at Wounded Knee.
    Brando did not attend the ceremony, instead sending Apache Sacheen Littlefeather in his place to refuse the award and read a prepared statement.
    We have grown accustomed to actors using the acceptance of an award as a platform for social causes, but in 1973 it wasn't nearly as common. Some viewed the action favorably, some felt that it was disrespectful to the industry to refuse the award.
    The reading of the statement by Littlefeather was met with mixed reaction from the audience, initially a few boos, followed by some cheers. The speech is available on YouTube if you would like to watch it in its entirety.
    There's a cocktail in this somewhere. The Godfather cocktail was one of Brando's favorite drinks according to the makers of Disaronno. The origin of the cocktail is unclear, but it was commonly served after dinner, and Marlon Brando liked it.  
    The Godfather is a simple two-ingredient cocktail made from only Disaronno and Scotch, usually in equal parts.  
    Disaronno is an amaretto-flavored liqueur and should be behind every bar, including the one in your home. The curiously sweet and strong almond-flavored liqueur comes from Sorano, Italy and is one of the most versatile liqueurs on the planet. In addition to its utility in mixology, amaretto is also commonly used in culinary applications.
    Disaronno is by no means the only available amaretto-flavored liqueur, but it is the industry standard. It is not too sweet, not too strong and it mixes as well as anything that you will ever pour.
    Always use a blended Scotch in cocktail applications unless the recipe specifically calls for a single malt. Blends tend to be smoother than single malts and as a result are excellent mixers. Single malts are meant to be enjoyed neat, with a few drops of water.
    The best-selling Scotch worldwide is a blend, Dewar's White Label. Dewar's “white” is a solid blend and you will find it behind almost every commercial bar in the world.
    Chivas Regal, Monkey Shoulder, Johnnie Walker Black and Compass Box Great King Street are also solid blends for mixing.  
    During its peak in the 1970's, The Godfather cocktail built a reputation as the perfect after dinner drink. It is. Don't believe me? Drink one after a steak dinner or home-style Italian meal.
    Still need convincing? Pair it with your favorite cigar at the end of a long day.  If you find the drink to be too sweet for your palate, simply cut the Disaronno in half and it should be just right.
    There is an amaretto-based companion drink to the The Godfather, and she's appropriately named The Godmother. Simply replace the Scotch with vodka and you have a Godmother.
    The Godfather is built and served over ice in a rocks or Old Fashioned glass.
    Place 2 to 3 large ice cubes in rocks or Old Fashioned glass.
    Pour 1 1/4 oz blended Scotch and 1 1/4 oz Disaronno over ice and stir gently.
    Optional garnish of maraschino cherry.
    Until next week, enjoy responsibly.