Like millions of Americans, I’m chomping at the bit for Sunday’s season six premier of Mad Men. So ecstatic am I for the gang at Sterling Cooper Draper (Pryce?) to forge into the late-1960’s that I had to mollify my angst in the only appropriate way I knew how: Booze.
One of the hallmarks of the AMC series has been the period-piece cocktails Don Draper, Roger Sterling, Pete Campbell (above) imbibe at bars, dinner parties, soirées, power lunches, and, yes, work. All over country, retro-tipples are chic again, from Mai Tais to Manhattans, becoming part of the show’s defining characteristics. As a proud member of the New York City cocktail tribe and avid fan of the show, I decided to teach myself to joggle a proper drink and learn my jigger from my Boston shaker.
So I booked a Mad Men cocktail class at the Institute of Culinary Education in Union Square. ($70 per person; next class on May 4th) Course material: whiskey sour, Gibson, Tom Collins, and Harvey Wall Banger. Here are a few tricks this neophyte bartender picked up courtesy of mix-master instructor Dan Stone.
Sequence matters: swirl the sugar in lemon juice BEFORE you add booze when making a whiskey sour.
Don’t be a fool, use your stirring tool: Stirring is an art, for a pitch-perfect Tom Collins, rhythmically twist the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup through the ice with a cocktail spoon, then top with soda water, and finish it with a vigorous whisk.
Act your age, use real ingredients: Stone says this is where most people go awry. Equip yourself with fresh lemon and lime juices (not concentrate), make homemade simple syrup (takes five minutes), and purchase a genuine ice tray for stout, well-built cubes.
When Don swills that first Old Fashioned come Sunday’s first episode, I’ll be joining him with a perfectly executed libation in hand.
More New York-based Mad Men-era cocktail classes.
Astor Centre; 212/674-7501; students will learn to make the perfect martini, old fashioned, and mai tai; $79 per person (May 3rd and June 21st)
Rather have it served to you? Three places to get Mad Men cocktails.
The newly-opened restaurant has a rustic downstairs lounge. Order the Brick House, barman John McCarthy's interpretaion of the old fashioned, with clove-infused bourbon, "red hot" syrup, and bitters. (212-253-9335; drinks for two $28)
Jim Meehan crafts one of the best Tom Collins in the city at this East Village speakeasy connected with a hot dog joint. (drinks for two $30)
Beneath Chelsea Market on the west side, the Tippler skillfully concocts classic Moscow Mules and Pisco Sours. (drinks for two $22)
Located in the Trump Parc building on Central Park South, an extensive cocktail menu is highlighted by the Midnight Manhattan. (drinks for two $28)
Get AMC's full cocktail guide here.
Nate Storey is an editorial assitant at Travel + Leisure.