Party Like a Mad Man

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Old Fashioned

Adapted from the AMC Cocktail Guide

Ingredients

2 dashes aromatic bitters
1 orange slice
1 maraschino cherry
½ tsp sugar
1 teaspoon water
1½ oz of rye
Crushed ice

Garnish:
1 cherry
1 orange slice

Instructions

  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.

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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.

Meditations in an Emergency

*Warning: season two spoilers!

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Welcome back to Mad Men Cocktail Friday, Thursday edition. After a week largely focused on Betty Draper, I thought an extra cocktail recipe, the Vodka Gimlet, was in order. We see Betty with her signature drink in season one, but the most notable Gimlet she orders is the one accompanied with her affair in the season two finale, ‘Meditations in an Emergency.’

It’s the thick of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Betty just received news that she’s pregnant, and she and Don are separated. She stops in a Manhattan bar and a man buys her a drink. Though she initially brushes him off to nurse her Gimlet, they are later seen together in a room behind the bar. They get dressed and go their separate ways.

While Betty’s Gimlet was likely vodka, gin is also acceptable.

Betty Draper’s Vodka Gimlet

Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Lime slice for garnish

Instructions

  1. Combine vodka and lime juice in a mixing glass filled with ice.
  2. Strain into a martini glass.
  3. Garnish with lime.
Photo credit: AMC

Photo credit: AMC