CLASSICS & COCKTAILS: Raise a Glass to “Citizen Kane”

Classics and Cocktails

In Classics & Cocktails, we combine two of Cambridge’s best features—classic film screenings and top-notch libations—pairing upcoming movie showings with their cocktail counterpart for an evening full of sips and stars.

Arguably the classic of all classic films, “Citizen Kane” comes to the Brattle Theatre’s big screen on Wednesday, May 6 and Thursday, May 7 to wish Orson Welles a happy hundredth birthday. That calls for a cocktail.

When Welles made his directorial debut with “Citizen Kane” in May, 1941, he changed the cinema game with his mammoth of a movie. The film traces the life of newspaper mogul Charles Foster Kane, played by Welles himself, starting with his death and moving through a series of flashbacks. Non-chronological sequencing, multiple unreliable narrators and the meta newsreel footage of Kane’s life all serve to dismantle the expected movie-going experience. Cinematographer Gregg Toland unsettles audiences with his use of deep focus, presenting fully clear scenes rather than guiding the viewer to important action by honing in on the foreground or background.

Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane wasn’t necessarily the first to use many of its film techniques, but it was a perfect storm of talent and vision—and controversy. Real-life newspaper giant William Randolph Hearst raised Cain (pardon the pun) over the too-close-for-comfort similarities between the title character’s life and his own. Despite Hearst’s best efforts to squelch the film, Kane has survived over 70 years, topping “best of” lists and inspiring generations of filmmakers. The rags-to-riches tale has a little bit of everything: mystery, drama, comedy, politics, love, scandal, defeat. To put it as simply as one of its original taglines, “It’s terrific!”

Just as Citizen Kane is a cornerstone of cinema history, the Old Fashioned could be called the cocktail that started it all. Like Welles’ masterpiece, the three-part tipple wields great influence in its field. Countless bartenders have used it as a springboard to get creative with sugar, bitters and liquor, and just about every bar has its own version. Before the film, settle in at Russell House Tavern to try this classic drink. The bar at Russell House’s intimate downstairs dining room, complete with exposed brick, wall sconces and vintage photographs, is a nice way to ease in or out of your movie night. Citizen Kane is showing both Wednesday and Thursday at 4:30 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. You can pick up tickets online here and see Russell House’s full menu here. Ask for your Old Fashioned with Four Roses bourbon as a nod to the great Kane mystery (just what is rosebud?) and contemplate a couple of classics.