What? You sick of all the Mad Men talk? About what a great show it is? Chances are that's only because you haven't watched it. Get on the scene, hoss, and catch the eff up! A few weeks ago (I took a week off; I know you've missed me), Jon Hamm and his cohorts premiered the long-awaited third season of AMC's mid-century modern drama for all of us die-hard fans waiting with bated breath...and cocktails.
Oh yes, the cocktails. See, while Mad Men is known for its attention to detail from period-perfect lipsticks to couches to fonts, it also nails the cocktail hour in terms of drinks and attitude. The office bar sets, the Manhattans and Old-Fashioneds, the nonchalant drinking at home around the kids. Reminds me of my grandparents, actually, who were very much of the Mad Men era in terms of style--even into their final years. I recall an episode with little Sally Draper preparing a drink for her father and his guests just like my sis and I used to at our grandparents' house. "You have to muddle it..."
So when AMC provided the Mad Men Cocktail Guide, I ran straight to Pogo's to prepare for my foray into the age of Helvetica and drinks that got you snockered by 4 p.m. The guide offered choices including the Tom Collins, Gimlet and Bloody Mary, but Granddaddy already taught me how to make those. Greyhound and Screwdriver...too brunchy. And I didn't have a copper tankard for the Moscow Mule, so I went with Don Draper's favorite and a ladies' choice: the Old Fashioned and the Pink Squirrel.
Only one minor glitch: Creme de noyaux isn't just sitting on liquor store shelves by the case. But the knowledgable gent at Pogo's offered me a fill-in with a lovely nut liqueur (I'm not kidding, and I await your nut jokes) and I mixed my creamy "martini" of creme de cacao, vodka, cream and the aforementioned nut liqueur just like a pro and poured into a promo martini glass that the cashiers at Pogo's provided, most likely, because I bought all the dusty cremes they had to offer. It ended up an Albino Squirrel but the Pogo's Gent was dead-on in his recommendation and the almond flavor mixed with the vanilla of the cacao and provided a lovely smooth flavor not unlike a flavored milk...until I got hit in the face with the vodka. The Pink/Albino Squirrel may look cute and sweet, but it's got claws if you handle it too aggressively.
Now, according to a bartender friend who wishes to remain nameless and since I am often served by this person I will abide, the Old-Fashioned might be the biggest pain-in-the-ass to make during a rush. Not only does it have a good many ingredients, but according to Nameless Bartender, if someone orders one, another person will overhear the order, think it's a good idea and order their own. And so on.
I made ours before we got to see Don himself serve up two Old-Fashioneds at the
home country club of Roger Sterling in the "My Old Kentucky Home" episode of this season. I used bourbon (instead of rye), sugar, aromatic bitters, cherry, orange and lemon. I'd assume his were better, since I'm woman and in the Sterling Cooper scene that would mean mine were inferior, but then again, we both had the same ingredients and lowball glasses from the Sixties...plus, I sliced my own fruit, thanks. In your FACE, Draper!
Jake and Marla were served their cocktails and Jake--being a whiskey drinker--took to it a bit easier than Marla. She got a little too excited after seeing the fruit and took a huge gulp, not expecting the strength of the drink. Then she made a bizarre raspy crowing sound, threw her arms up in the air and squinched her face in kinda like a baby who ate something they didn't like. She kept trying to sip it a few more times, but ultimately the Old-Fashioned was as hard a sell as some of the clients on Mad Men. I suppose a little soda water (a recipe variation that causes much controversy amongst no one that I know of, but apparently cocktail purists have strong opinions) would have helped dilute the alcohol. Jake nearly finished his before option for the 12-year-old whiskey someone had gifted him.
I like the Squirrels, but the cream factor will keep them from being a regular part of my drink diet. The Old-Fashioned is fine by me...if I'm not looking to make it through an hour of captivating television. My ol' Kentucky bourbon makes mama a little sleepy-drunk. Guess that would be a good thing if I were Sal's wife but not so awesome for a Sterling Cooper happy hour.
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