8 Television Cocktails Inspired by Binge-Worthy Shows and How to Make Them

A pile of vintage TV shows with Various Television shows displayed. The top TV has a waiters arm with a tray of martinis
Photos Courtesy of Getty Images, Alamy, Paramount Network, HBO Max

While we have a few more weeks left until the official start of fall, many of us are looking forward to the season’s greatest tradition: nestling into the couch with a cozy blanket to watch some quality television. Naturally, the activity is only enhanced with a satisfying drink in hand.

But on what precisely should one sip during viewings? It all depends on what’s depicted on screen. The Parisian scenery in Emily in Paris, for instance, pairs perfectly with bubbly Champagne-based cocktails like the Sidecar Royale. Meanwhile, binge sessions of Yellowstone demand a drink with a base of whiskey, the Dutton family’s spirit of choice. A Rusty Nail cocktail does the trick quite nicely.

Feeling parched? Here are eight TV-inspired drinks to make this season.

Still from Yellowstone
Yellowstone / Photo Courtesy of Paramount Network
The Rusty Nail Cocktail Is a Forgotten Classic That Deserves the Spotlight

Montana cowboys, cattle ranchers, and barn keepers drink whiskey or bourbon after a hard day’s work herding horses on the hit show Yellowstone. It’s also one of the central themes in the contentious lives of lead characters Beth and brothers Kaycee and Jamie, not to mention the family’s patriarch John. Someone is always hurling a glass of whiskey or empty bottles of Bulleit Bourbon at someone.

For that reason, when deciding what drink to pair with this show, we recommend forgoing straight whiskey. Instead, opt for a Rusty Nail cocktail, a balanced blend of smoky Scotch whisky, spiced Drambuie, and zesty Angostura bitters. Both sweet and bitter in equal measure, the drink epitomizes the opposing personalities of troubled brothers Kayce and Jamie.

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Emily in Paris Still
Sidecar Royale

Pair this show with a Champagne-based drink to transport yourself even further into the Netflix show’s Parisian lifestyle. And we mean real-deal Champagne, which is from the Champagne region in France—right where Emily’s love life got even more complicated at Camille’s chateau.

With season three on the horizon, we recommend pairing this show with a Sidecar Royale, a mix of sugar, lemon juice  and three French ingredients: Champagne, Cointreau and Cognac.

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Bridgerton / Photo Courtesy of Netflix
The Classic Hot Toddy Recipe

Hot toddies, anyone? This warming tea cocktail is spiked with a dash of your choice of brown spirit, like brandy, whiskey or rum. It’s also the perfect thing to sip while watching characters spill the “tea”—aka hot gossip—on Netflix’s Bridgerton.

There’s also something to be said about drinking something hot while watching the, ahem, steamy scenes with love interests Simon Bassett and Daphne Bridgerton. *Fans self.*

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Cast of NBC TV Show
An Appletini Recipe Worth Reviving

“Appletini, please. Easy on the ‘tini!” So often says J.D., the goofy main character on the one-time hit comedy show Scrubs. Scrubs featured a long-running gag about how J.D., a young attending physician, orders the drink after his shifts at the hospital. J.D. is famously persnickety about the drink: He once requested a $105 version and complained that it “was lacking on the ‘tini.”

Whether or not you’re as particular as J.D., we recommend pairing Scrubs reruns with your own version of the cocktail. That might be a bright-neon green marriage of vodka, sour apple schnapps and apple juice (no judgment!) or a more refined appletini that mingles Calvados and elderflower liqueur with lemon and apple juices.

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Riverdale -- “Chapter One Hundred and Sixteen: The Stand”
Riverdale / Photo Courtesy of Colin Bentley / The CW
One Old-Fashioned Recipe, Two Easy Variations

This CW drama is based on something pretty old fashioned: Archie Comics, which were first published back in the 1940s. We love watching modern interpretations of the comics’ iconic characters—Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica and the rest of the gang—while sipping on an inspired new twist on the classic old-fashioned cocktail, which swaps out demerara syrup for sticky-sweet maple syrup.

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Gilmore Girls
The Classic Martini

Aficionados of the cult series Gilmore Girls have probably asked themselves, “which character do you relate to the most?” Naturally, we at Wine Enthusiast take into account characters’ go-to beverages when considering the answer. In the course of the series, which ended in 2007 and spawned a Netflix revival in 2017, mother-and-daughter duo Rory and Lorelai both have signature drinks, but we’re partial to Lorelai’s Friday night staple, the gin martini.

And who could blame her? What concoction of gin, vermouth and olives better soothes a single mother’s anxieties during dinner with a lovestruck, rebellious 16-year-old daughter? But even if you’re not a “Lorelei,” we heartily recommend bingeing the series with a gin martini in hand.

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The Flight Attendant Still
The Flight Attendant / Photo Courtesy of HBO Max
Classic Vodka Martini Recipe

Not a lover of gin? In the hit HBO series The Flight Attendant, main character Cassie Bowden likes to party and down a lot of classic vodka martinis between long-haul flights. Here’s the show’s premise: One night after partaking in more than her fair share of martinis, Cassie wakes up with a murdered man in her bed. With a cloudy memory of the prior evening and uncertainty as to if she did it, Cassie goes on a hunt to solve the mystery. In other words, she finds out the hard way that sucking down one too many vodka martinis can have unforeseen consequences. 

Keep this in mind when mixing your vodka martinis to accompany viewings of the show. Our go-to recipe? A can’t-miss blend of vodka, orange bitters and dry vermouth.

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paddy considine as king viserys targaryen
House of Dragons / Photo Courtesy of Warner Media
Blackberry Mead-Fashioned Cocktail

Fans of the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones have a new show to raise their bejeweled goblets to, and that’s the new hit series House of Dragons. In this prequel, Princess Rhaenyra struggles to prove her worth to her father King Viserys as she angles for a seat on the Iron Throne. Amid the political drama and dragon action, we often find characters binge-drinking pitchers full of… something alcoholic. We imagine it’s mead, a boozy drink of fermented honey and water, which has been around since ancient times. 

Unless you fancy drinking straight mead, we suggest enjoying episodes alongside sips of a fragrant Blackberry Mead Old Fashioned, which combines blackberries, wildflower honey syrup, Angostura bitters and bourbon. Sweet and smooth, it’s the perfect thing to quaff against a medieval backdrop of castles, brothels, commoners and knights.

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Published on September 14, 2022