Party Like a Mad Man

Virtual Mad Men Finale Party

The season premiere (well, technically the premiere of the second half) of the final season of Mad Men is tomorrow night. Perfect timing for a Mad Men-themed post, and Don Draper’s signature drink, the Old Fashioned cocktail.

Old Fashioned Cocktail: Don Draper's signature drink on Mad Men
The New York City “skyline”

Judy Gelman of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook invited me, along with several other food and lifestyle bloggers, to participate in a Virtual Mad Men Finale Party to celebrate the final season. The guidelines were very open-ended: feature food or drink from Mad Men anytime during the week before April 5th. Two years ago, I worked on a month-long Mad Men-themed project for Vegan MoFo, so I was excited to bring back Mad Men to Seitan Beats Your Meat. A month is not nearly enough time to explore the intricate themes of the show through food and photography, and one post is certainly not enough, so I’d presented myself with a challenge.

The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook Finale Party

Don Draper’s Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

While brainstorming ideas for my post and thinking about the most recent seasons of Mad Men, two words came to mind: “drowning” and “illusion.” They perfectly describe Don Draper’s journey throughout the series, the changes each character experiences during the decade, and the business of advertising in relation to the show. I approached my photos with those ideas in mind and decided that my mission for my photos was to visually represent “drowning” and “illusion.” A simple prompt, but difficult to describe in just a few images, while referencing the show, and the time period Mad Men most recently left us in, the end of the 1960s.

I thought about the Hershey pitch at the end of season 6, when Don has finally reached a breaking point that seems very different than all of his other breakdowns throughout the series. Don is out of control, his marriage is falling apart, and he’s jeopardizing his relationship with Sally. Actually, their stories parallel in a strange way: as Don carefully builds a life on a foundation of lies and drinks away any genuine moment, Sally is quickly losing every illusion she believed in as she grows up and understands the world she lives in. At its core, Mad Men is an study of human nature, relationships, and creating a semblance of meaning.

Old Fashioned Cocktail: Don Draper's signature drink on Mad Men

Don’s drink of choice and one of his many vices, an Old Fashioned, seemed the most appropriate cocktail to feature. I posted this Old Fashioned recipe during Vegan MoFo 2013, but the classics don’t change.

Mad Men Old Fashioned Cocktail
Prep time
Total time
Old Fashioned cocktail with an orange slice and maraschino cherry
Recipe type: Drinks
Cuisine: Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free
Serves: 1
  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters
  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1½ oz of rye
  • Crushed ice
  • 1 cherry
  • 1 orange slice
  1. Combine the bitters, orange slice, cherry, sugar, and water in a lowball glass. Muddle to release the juices and oils of the fruit.
  2. Add the rye and ice. Stir.
  3. Garnish with an orange slice and cherry.

Recipe adapted from the AMC Cocktail Guide

Old Fashioned Cocktail recipe

And with that, #PartyLikeAMadMan. Will you be watching tomorrow night?

Disclaimer: Smart Pop Books provided me with a copy of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook for research and inspiration (thank you!), but I was not compensated for this post. This was a personal project, and art direction, images, and words are my own.

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Mad Men inspired Old Fashioned recipe

Kelly Peloza is the blogger and photographer at Seitan Beats Your Meat, and the author of two vegan cookbooks: The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, and Cheers to Vegan Sweets.

She lives in Chicago and runs a photography business called Kelly Peloza Photo.

2 Replies to “Party Like a Mad Man”

  1. […] focused on creating one dish or drink. Feed Me Seymour went modern with Passion Fruit Mojitos, and Seitan Beats Your Meat captured “drowning” and illusion” in Don Drapers Journey through her image of Don’s Old […]

  2. […] versions, and I’m often photographing an Old Fashioned in a mid 20th century context (such as this Mad Men shoot for the Virtual Mad Men Dinner Party), so I’ll give you the “new” Old Fashioned […]

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