The Celluloid Pantry: Sweet Vermouth on the Rocks with a Twist and Groundhog Day (1993)
If you had to choose just one drink for all time, what would it be? For me, it wouldn’t be sweet vermouth.
But in Groundhog Day (1993), disgruntled weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray, right) chooses just that. Caught in an endless time loop, he relives the same day repeatedly until he gets it right.
The first “day” he sits down at a bar with his producer, Rita (Andie MacDowell, left), he orders a “Jim Beam, ice, water.” She orders a “sweet vermouth on the rocks with a twist.” He winces but takes note.
The second “day,” hoping to impress her, he orders a sweet vermouth just before she does. She turns to him amazed. “It always makes me think of Rome, the way the sun hits the buildings,” he says insincerely, beating her to the punch. Again she’s amazed. By the third “day” he has the sequence down cold, even if the vermouth still tastes rough. “To world peace,” he toasts—forcing himself to swallow.
There’s a bit of an in-joke here, since sweet vermouth on the rocks with a twist was said to be the favorite drink of writer/director Harold Ramis‘ wife. Italian in its origin, sweet—or red—vermouth is a slightly spicy fortified wine flavored with botanicals. In North America, it’s sometimes enjoyed as an apéritif, but is best put to use (I think, anyway) as an ingredient in cocktails like the Manhattan.