The Celluloid Pantry: Brandy, Tea, and Potions and Bell, Book and Candle (1958)

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The drinks say it all in this romantic holiday classic. Beginning with cocktails and ending with a potion, Bell Book and Candle (1958) is a bewitching love story told in beverages:Meeting at the Cocktail Bar It's Christmas Eve, and, longing for a taste of “regular” life, stylish Greenwich Village witch, Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak), invites her mortal neighbor, Shep Henderson (James Stewart), out for drinks at an underground bar called The Zodiac Club. Shep arrives with his catty fiancé in tow. The evening does not go well.

Seduction Over Brandy
Gillian now has her sights set on Shep. Back at her place, she offers him some brandy (above, left). As he swirls the amber liquid in the glass, Gillian begins to cast her spell. Next thing Shep knows, they’re welcoming Christmas morning on the roof of the Flatiron Building.

A Marriage Proposal Over Tea
The lovers are reluctant to leave the couch, but the kettle’s whistling on the stove. Gillian primes the empty teapot with some boiling water before spooning in the tea (above, center). Shep proposes. Gillian objects. But in the time it takes for the tea to steep, she’s changed her mind. Shep flings his arms around her, still holding the cups and saucers, and they clatter to the floor.

Downing the Antidote
Shep is mortified to discover he’s been the unwitting victim of a love charm. He needs the antidote, and fast. It’s going to cost him though: a thousand dollars for a foul-smelling potion brewed by an old witch who “looks like she’s been living in a pickle barrel.” Shep balks, but the witch orders: “Drink it! Drink it while it still has strength!” Shep manages to swallow (above, right), but there are some things even a potion can’t cure.

-Nora

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The Celluloid Pantry

Nora Maynard is a freelance writer based in New York City. Her recent work has appeared in Salon, Drunken Boat, and The Millions. She recently completed her ninth marathon and her first novel, Burnt Hill Road. Nora wrote for The Kitchn from 2006 to 2011.

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