Photo by Getty Images for AMC
It’s a Mad Mad Mad Men World! The countdown has begun on the final seven episodes of one of the most acclaimed and stylish television shows of all time, Mad Men. And, in anticipation of the final season, there has been a number of initiatives around New York City to help us immerse ourselves in the sexy, glamorous, and boozy world of Don Draper, and the men and women of Madison Avenue. The Museum of Moving Image is hosting creator Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men Exhibit through June, and there has been an installation of a Don Draper bench as well as a change in street signs (Mad Men Ave/Don Draper Way) right outside the Time & Life Building, the home of fictional advertising firm Sterling Cooper & Partners.
Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for AMC
But, to really get all of our senses prepared for next Sunday’s premiere episode, this past week New York City has been in the throes of Mad Men Dining Week, where many of us ate and drank our way through the 1960s. From last Monday, March 23rd up until yesterday, the 29th, 34 New York City restaurants participated in this lunchtime promotion that featured 60s style menu items and “liquid lunches” for a cool $19.69.
Since I am a HUGE fan of the show and I have always been aesthetically drawn to the 1960s, AND I also happen to work in the Time & Life Building…I’m pretty sure all of these festivities leading up to the finale were designed JUST FOR ME. In case you haven’t been following me on social media, I DID in fact, partake in many a liquid lunch last week. Let’s talk about it!
Last Monday, my introduction to Mad Men Dining Week was at the classic seafood restaurant, Blue Water Grill in Union Square…
…where I parked myself at the bar for a good hour and a half while, Jason, my skilled and attentive bartender, treated me to my very own Joan Holloway experience. Pardon my fuzzy iPhone pics while I take you on this boozy journey…
Staying within the theme of 1960s style cocktails, Blue Water Grill’s “Liquid Lunch” offerings were two tipples inspired by the era: a Whisky Sour type cocktail and a Vesper:
1 oz Gin
1 oz Vodka
1 oz Lillet
Stirred. Strained into a Martini glass. Onion garnish.
2 oz Canadian Whisky
1 oz Blood OJ
1/2 oz fresh lemon
1/2 oz simple syrup
Shake all ingredients and strain over a large cube in a rocks glass. Brandied cherry garnish.
While both cocktails were delicious, I was partial to the Mad Sour. You can’t go wrong with whisky and blood orange juice. And, you could make a meal out of those brandied cherries! After one Vesper and very little lunch, however, you’d be behaving as inappropriately as Roger Sterling in no time!
The next day, I headed to PJ Clarke’s, the historic saloon on East 55th street that can be seen in episode 8 of the first season Mad Men, “Hobo Code.”
The upstairs dining area, Sidecar, was serving a lunch and drink special. I thought it wise, since I had to go back to work, to keep the cocktails to a minimum this time.
By filling my belly with their signature cheeseburger, famously dubbed “The Cadillac of burgers” by Nat King Cole in the late 1950s, I guaranteed my ability to handle my one boozy indulgence…
While their drink specials included an Old Fashioned and a delicious sounding whiskey, rum and brandy cocktail, I knew I had to get a Sidecar…while I was at Sidecar!
I’m so glad I did! Emily, behind the bar, lovingly prepared this drink like she was making it for Peggy Olsen herself!
1 1/2 oz Cognac
1 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz lemon juice
Add the ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake 8 to 10 seconds, until the outside of the shaker is well chilled. Strain into a coupe or cocktail glass.
Garnish with a lemon twist. Sugared rim optional.
While the 21 Club has never actually made an appearance in Mad Men…
…the place is an New York institution, synonymous with classic cocktails, well-heeled patrons and power lunches. It’s no wonder they participated in Mad Men Dining Week! I knew exactly where I wanted to sit – on one of the newly appointed stools at the bar in the back Bar Room.
Apparently, the bar stools were such new additions to the back bar, that I had the honor of being bartender Mark’s first lunch patron! Perched up on one of the best seats in the house, overlooking the entire dining room, I felt even closer to the toys and artifacts dangling from the former speakeasy’s ceiling, that dated back to the 30s, including a toy torpedo boat from John F. Kennedy and a baseball bat from Willie Mays.
I went for the lunch special with a traditional Caesar salad and melt in your mouth braised short ribs over whipped parsnips. And, a Manhattan, of course! Don Draper, eat your heart out!
2 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
4-5 dashes bitters
Add ingredients to an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir well, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
For my final Mad Men Dining Week experience, I decided to go all out, and headed to famed French restaurant, Le Cirque.
I’m not kidding around when I say we went all out…
Escargot á la Bourguignonne!
Brisket of Beef with pomme au gratin!
“Ile Flottante – floating island”! (a delicious meringue, cream and berry delight!)
We went for the lunch AND drink special, because…Friday. So, we each started with a Champagne cocktail and then ordered the heavy-duty cocktails second.
Look at that gorgeous Stinger! That cocktail doesn’t look so bad, either! Zing! I ordered a Sidecar for my second drink, but I couldn’t help capturing my lovely lunch date with her perfect Stinger. It’s also a cocktail that has been out of fashion for so long, it was a fun one to be able to try off of the menu. This cocktail, composed of just Cognac and Créme de Menthe, tastes exactly like a grown up after dinner mint. And it was a perfect one to cap off our Mad Men Dining Week.
1 oz Créme de Menthe
Add ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
What a great idea to introduce new clientele to these time-honored restaurants, and such a fun excuse to dress up, explore some classic New York establishments and indulge in some liquid lunches! I don’t know how those ad men and women did it back in the day! But I’m willing to bring back the boozy tradition every now and again!