Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Mad Men" and Drinking, Part II

I've just finished watching episodes 4 through 6 of season one of the AMC series "Mad Men." The drinking is just as prevalent as in the first three episodes of the 1960-set series, but the references aren't as specific. Just lots of brown liquor poured from cut-glass decanters into glass tumblers being downed by ad execs in gray suits and narrow ties. Our hero, Don Draper, continues to take his Canadian Club straight in the office, and order Old Fashioneds when on the outside, including one during a memorable scene set in the Tea Room at the Pierre.

Episode 6, entitled "Babylon," provided the most interesting cocktail cameos. Early on, Draper and his boss Roger Sterling try to woo potential clients from the Israeli Tourism Board with a tray crammed tight with a dozen Mai Tais. The tiki drink has played a fairly big role in the series so far. This marks its second appearance. Sterling Cooper, the fictional ad agency, must have some great bartender on staff. Whipping up 12 Mai Tais is no easy task.

Aging ad executive Freddy Rumson is the biggest lush at Sterling Cooper. He begins drinking at breakfast, in one scene pouring himself a Screwdriver, using a bottle of Smirnoff. This is historically accurate, as Smirnoff would be the most easily accessible vodka available at that time, when the vodka revolution was in its infancy.

The episode ends at the Gaslight, the beatnik hangout on Macdougal Street that thrived in the early '60s in Greenwich Village. Draper, his bohemian mistress Midge and her long-haired pal Roy take in some readings and music there over shots of Jack Daniels. A bottle of Jack Black is pictured as well. This rung a little false. My impression has always been that such places were known for the espresso drinking. Indeed, the Gaslight's rep was as a "coffee house."

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