Party Like Mad Men: 3 Critical Components
With the return of the hit show Mad Men—now in its 3rd season—you may be tempted to don a sharp vintage suit and tie or knockout dress, brush up on your mixology, and have your like-minded friends over for a retro-bash. For your consideration here are 3 critical components for your soiree, starting with the most important…
Way back in the very first episode of season 1 we see Don Draper in a restaurant scribbling ideas on a cocktail napkin and drinking one of my personal top 5 cocktails, the venerable Old Fashioned. This standard of the cocktail repertoire is a bone of much contention amongst many. Fruit or no fruit? Soda or no soda? Brandy, Rye, or Bourbon? The list goes on. My own feeling is thus: while mixing cocktails is a kind of alchemy whereby spirits and other ingredients begin as strangers and end as lovers, let us not be so rigid as to eschew improvisation and personal taste.
My recipe goes something like this:
• 1tsp raw sugar or demerara
• 3 or more dashes Angostura Bitters
• Just enough water to dissolve the sugar
• 2oz Bourbon, preferably Wild Turkey
• A twist of lemon
Combine the first 3 ingredients in a tumbler and mix until the sugar is dissolved. I find the handle of a wooden spoon used in a mortar-and-pestle type fashion breaks down the sugar brilliantly, but that’s just me. Toss a few ice cubes into the glass, followed by the bourbon, then twist the slice of lemon peel over the glass until you can see beads of lemon oil springing off the rind into the drink. Drop the twist into the glass, one final quick stir, and you’re on. Of course, there’s more to a Mad Men party than just the old fashioned. Paper Mag’s Elizabeth Thompson gives a decent but by no means exhaustive round-up of drink-by-character, but I’d stay away from the Brandy Alexander and lean toward the Mai Tai, Tom Collins and Vodka Gimlet.
Mad Men is known for, among other things, its period authenticity. That said, there’s no reason to revisit the bilious goop that was American cuisine of the 60s. It’s a party, and you want fairly simple-to-prepare and tasty finger foods; things your guests can nibble on with one hand, so as not to impair the drinking hand. Think dips, cold cuts like salami, mortadella, and prosciutto rolled up and pinned with olives, artichoke hearts and/or cubes of interesting cheeses. Check out iVillage.com’s updated retro dishes for some ideas, or Martha Stewart’s quick Hors d’Oeuvre menu with feta and cucumber dip, honey-roasted salted figs, and bacon wrapped dates, among others.
Of course, the quickest way to set your music backdrop is with the Mad Men soundtrack, but you’re not going to loop this all night long so you’ll need to add to the repertoire a little. Remember, it’s 1963, so you can’t really go wrong mining Motown and soul with the likes of Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, and Little Stevie Wonder. Conveniently, The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 2 covers most of this territory in 4 wonderful discs of classic Motown. Jazz, too, is a most fitting genre to draw from to set your mood. Artists like Stan Getz and Steve Allen with the sounds of Bossa Nova lend a smooth groove, but if you want something more upbeat and frenetic, check out Charles Mingus’ Ah Um. I know this predates the period by a few years, but Better Get It In Your Soul and Boogie Stop Shuffle are cuts even your non-jazz lovin’ friends will dig. Same goes for Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue—known as the album even jazz-haters will buy.
For the true Mad Men fan, top off the above troika by adding Mad Men tweets to your event stream on your event web page. Just type #madmen in the Twitter search box in the event report for your pingg invite and gather all tweets related to the show into your event stream.
And there you have it: the critical ingredients to help you party like Mad Men. But you’re on your own for the hangover cure.