Brandy, Star of Pop Culture

Do you know what connects James Bond, the Mad Men series, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Ernest Hemingway ? Hint: a character that boasts charisma, creates ambiance, glorifies power, social success, or symbolizes refined and sophisticated traits. Have a guess ? Here are some remarkable appearances of brandy in pop culture. First episode: cinema.

"A Good Brandy, My Dear Watson!"

In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2012), directed by Guy Ritchie, the famous detective faces a sprawling investigation involving scandals around an Indian cotton tycoon, opium trafficker deaths in China, the demise of a steel baron in the US, and other terrorist attacks... At Baker Street, Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) gathers all his resources to thwart the criminal mastermind he is suspecting, Moriarty: Watson (Jude Law) and... a good glass of brandy certainly aid in unraveling the mystery.

“My name is Brandy… James Brandy”

Among the accomplishments of the eminent agent 007 is an appreciation for fine spirits, especially brandy. Subtly woven into the saga, it first appears in Goldfinger (1965) during a dinner with James Bond, his boss "M," and Colonel Smithers, where the latter offers him a “rather disappointing brandy”. It transcends borders, as Australian actor George Lazenby savors "Corsican brandy" in his sole portrayal of the character in On Her Majesty's Secret Service , in 1969.

"We'll Always Have Paris... and Brandy"

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman... It's the charismatic duo in Casablanca, a cult film -considered the third greatest in American cinema history by the American Film Institute - with unparalleled emotional power. If this film were a spirit, it would undoubtedly be the brandy, Rick Blaine (Bogart) sips throughout the movie, illustrating the intense struggle between intrigue and romance, love and virtue.

Marlon Brandy, The Godfather

Power, influence, authority. Francis Ford Coppola astutely used the brandy's image to depict the post-war New York mafia power struggles in his masterpiece The Godfather (1972) (1972). The Corleone family, avid consumers of the spirit, provide a compelling albeit morally questionable advertisement for brandy.

"Your Brandy, with or without ice?"

In James Cameron's Titanic (1997), brandy plays a less flattering role. At the end of the "hero's dinner," it embodies aristocratic superficiality and symbolic violence towards the brave, impertinent Jack, who declines it in favor of livelier festivities below deck. By the film's conclusion, brandy becomes an ultimate symbol of social class's unsinkability, as a well-dressed man orders it solemnly while the ship inexorably sinks into the icy depths.

Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Brandy...

In the impressive cast of Damien Chazelle's Babylon (2022), brandy is out of its usual element. Typically associated with elegant salons and tranquil settings, it finds itself amid the debauchery and decadence of 1920s Hollywood depicted in the film. Excesses of all kinds... The satire on the transition from silent films to talkies spares no icon !


Ritchie, G. (Filmmaker). (2011). Sherlock Holmes : A Game of Shadows [Movie]. Lin Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, Silver Pictures.

Hunt, P. (Filmmaker). (1969). On Her Majesty's Secret Service [Movie]. EON Productions.

Coppola, F. (Filmmaker). (1972). The Godfather [Movie]. Paramount Pictures, Alfran Productions.

Curtiz, M. (Filmmaker). (1942). Casablanca [Film]. Warner Bros. Pictures, First National Pictures.

Cameron, J. (Filmmaker). (1997). Titanic [Film]. 20th Century Fox, Paramount Picturesn Lighstorm Entertainment.

Chazelle, D. (Filmmaker). (2022). Babylon [Film]. Marc Platt Productions, Material Pictures.

To be continued: Brandy, the literary character...