The Celluloid Pantry: 7 & 7s and Mean Streets (1973)

The Celluloid Pantry: 7 & 7s and Mean Streets (1973)

Nora Maynard
Jan 16, 2007

The Canadian distiller, The Seagram Company Ltd, has a long and storied history with the American underworld. Back in the days of Prohibition, it became a major bootleg whiskey supplier to its dry southern neighbor. (Canadian Prohibition ended in the early 1920s, but the U.S. had to wait until 1933 before liquor could be legally manufactured and sold.)

So it's only fitting that the 7 & 7, a highball combo of Seagram's 7 whiskey and 7Up, should be the drink of choice among the small-time Little Italy mobsters in Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973).

The drink itself speaks of a certain time and place. Possibly the only completely branded mixed drink in the standard bartending repertoire (a generic request for "whiskey and lemon-lime soda" just doesn't have the same ring), it was backed by an aggressive advertising campaign in the 60s and 70s. And in the low-life bars of Mean Streets, they just keep ordering it up.

When Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro) brings a couple of boho girls he picked up in the Village over to meet his friend Charlie (Harvey Keitel, above), they don't know what to drink. Sarah wants a tequila, but Tony doesn't stock it in his bar. "Never mind," says Johnny Boy. "Listen'have a 7 & 7'it's good for both of youse."

7 & 7
(makes one highball drink)

1 1/2 oz. Seagram's 7
7Up soda
Lemon or lime wedge for garnish

Pour the Seagram's 7 into a highball glass filled with ice. Top up with 7Up. Garnish with lemon or lime (optional).

(A special thanks to veebee for suggesting Mean Streets and 7 & 7s in last week's post!)

- Nora

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