"Mad Men" Season Five Starts Sunday, March 25: What to Serve at Your Viewing Party

Thumbnail image for Cocktail_Culture_Salk.jpg
Larry Salk - Courtesy of Norton Museum of Art
Impress the Don Draper wannabes at your cocktail party with your '60s savvy.
UPDATE: In my haste for the return of Draper and co., I indicated the series would be returning a week earlier than it is in reality. Mad Men season five premieres next Sunday, March 25.

Ever wonder why Don Draper and his Mad Men cohorts could get through a two-plus-martini lunch and still manage to make it back to the office with enough acumen to land the Lucky Strikes account and their secretary before the end of the day? Being a debonair badass is only part of the equation. Michelle Finamore, who curated the "Cocktail Culture" exhibition at the Norton Museum of Art, says size had something to do with it.

"The cocktails were a lot smaller than what we think of today. You could get away with drinking a few more," Finamore said, adding that over the years, cocktails, particularly the martini, increased in size. "In the 1990s, everything seemed to get bigger."

Why is this important for you to know? It may help you to cut costs and achieve maximum authenticity at your viewing party for the two-hour premiere of season five of Mad Men, which airs at 9 p.m. Sunday, March 25, on AMC. After the jump, Finamore offers some other suggestions on era-appropriate food and drinks for a killer Mad Men viewing party. 

Let's start with the obvious: "The martini is a classic," Finamore said.

Bear in mind that this should be a real martini, and not one of those cupcake/Twizzler/chocolate shake concoctions favored by sorority girls and people who don't actually like booze.

That being said, Finamore said the Mad Men era was around the time when the notion of  "women's drink" and "men's drinks" really started to come into play. As with today, a "man's drink" was typically pure alcohol, whereas women tended to order something with a touch of sweetener added, like a whiskey sour (also a great idea for your party menu).

Other cocktails to consider?

- stinger (brandy and white creme de menthe)
- Cuba Libre (light rum, lime juice, cola)
- Tom Collins (gin, lemon juice, sugar, club soda, and a garnish of a maraschino cherry and orange slice)
- vodka gimlet (vodka, fresh lime juice, sugar)
- sloe gin fizz (sloe gin, gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, soda water)
- Gibson (gin and vermouth, garnished with a cocktail onion)

As for finger foods? Finamore suggests a few simple recipes. The first two are from The Cocktail-Supper Cookbook by Marion W. Flexner (1955) and the third is from the Esquire Handbook for Hosts.

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Actually it starts NEXT Sunday 3/25, FWIW


I love the party ideas (especially theclassic Cuba Libre), but I also suggest checking out some of the originalrecipes people would have actually used back then. I’ve been archivingauthentic early-60s party recipes and here are some ideas that would be perfectfor a Mad Men premiere party (although without an “Old Fashioned” recipe).Check out this original promo pamphlet that was distributed at the height ofthe Mad Men-era, chock full of swinging vintage hors d'oeuvres and cocktailrecipes displayed with real Mad Men-era style. I especially like the AvocadoDip (like a frothy guacamole) and a Moscow Mule to wash it down. Here's a linkto the original "How to Give a Vodka Party" guide: http://thevodkaparty.com/drink...

Tricia Woolfenden
Tricia Woolfenden

It's worth a lot! Headline has been clarified to reflect the actual start date. Thanks to you (and my brunch companions) for setting me straight. More time to find the proper cocktail glasses I suppose. 

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