Mad Men Cocktails

Mad Men Cocktails


Being a huge fan of the US mid-century pop culture, Mad Men is a real gem.  It is an AMC TV series which documents what the advertising age was in the 1960s through the 1970s on Madison Avenue in New York.  It is a great cross-section of what life of the Yuppie (young upwardly-mobile professional and/or a well-paid young middle-class professional who works in a city job and has a luxurious lifestyle).  It reflects the ideals of the time, what it was like to work in a male-dominated work place, how they treated women, minorities and viewed other cultures.  It is not politically correct in anyway, but that is the point.  This is what life in the professional work place was like half a century ago.  Sure, there are a lot of side stories, but the wardrobe, artifacts, furniture, fashions and music is everything to transport you to what seemed like a simpler time (and probably was).

One thing you will immediately notice is a cocktail culture.  But this is what it was really like.  I know this from stories my father would tell in later years, like the time he was coaching little league baseball and my older brother took a plastic cup of what he thought was water from a cooler, but was actually a cooler of martinis.  My brother, having swallowed a good gulp of it, spit it out after he felt his throat burning as if it was on fire and later said “if that is what drinking is like, I will never drink in my entire life”.  My father told this story to our guests when they asked where my brother was during one Thanksgiving dinner.  He was upstairs still in bed terribly hung over. My father and everyone laughed, all except my mother.  At that time I believe it was Southern Comfort which was whiskey flavored with oranges, sweet, but a deadly 100 proof.  Now I think its sold at 70 proof.  Regardless, cocktails and drinking were not taboo, in fact they were a part of Americana back then.  You even see it in the TV series “The Wonder Years” where the father would come home every day and have a Vodka Tonic before dinner.  This is the way it was, good or bad.

So here is a pretty good idea of what people were drinking back then.  These are cocktails anyone should be able to make, in a bar or at home.  They were classics then and still are today.  Click on the links to get more of the story and the recipe, variations, etc.  Check back as we will update this if we forgot one along the way.

As Don Draper would say at an awkward moment
“Time for a commercial break, brought to you by more liquor” (Season 1; Episode 7)

  • Bloody Mary (Season 2, Episode 4; Season 3, Episode 5)
  • Brandy
  • Brandy Alexander
  • Campari & Soda
  • Canadian Club (Whisky) 
  • Gimlet (Gin)
  • Jack Daniels (Season 1; Episode 6)
  • Mai Tai (Season 1; Episode 6)
  • Manhattan (Rye)
  • Martini (Gin)
  • Mint Julep (Bourbon)
  • Old Fashioned (Season 1; Episode 6, in Season 3 Episode 3, Don himself mixes up a quick version)
  • Red Wine (of course, especially when women are present at dinner)
  • Screwdriver (Season 1; Episode 6)
  • Scotch (Johnnie Walker Red in Season 3; Episode 5)
  • Seagram’s
  • Sidecar
  • Stolichnaya Vodka
  • Tanqueray Gin
  • Tom Collins
  • Vermouth
  • Vodka (And plenty of it in Season 1; Episode 7)
  • Whiskey Sour (Whiskey)

As you can see, there is a lot, and I mean A LOT of drinking going on in every single episode.  I often wonder what this was all about.  You would think people in the 1960s were constantly intoxicated from noon until midnight.

PS – Don’t abuse these at home kids.  These are potent cocktails and one should be enough to make you think twice about having a second.

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