UPDATE: In my haste for the return of Draper and co., I indicated the series would be returning a week earlier than it is in reality. Mad Men season five premieres next Sunday, March 25.

Ever wonder why Don Draper and his Mad Men cohorts could get through a two-plus-martini lunch and still manage to make it back to the office with enough acumen to land the Lucky Strikes account and their secretary before the end of the day? Being a debonair badass is only part of the equation. Michelle Finamore, who curated the "Cocktail Culture" exhibition at the Norton Museum of Art, says size had something to do with it.

"The cocktails were a lot smaller than what we think of today. You could get away with drinking a few more," Finamore said, adding that over the years, cocktails, particularly the martini, increased in size. "In the 1990s, everything seemed to get bigger."

Why is this important for you to know? It may help you to cut costs and achieve maximum authenticity at your viewing party for the two-hour premiere of season five of Mad Men, which airs at 9 p.m. Sunday, March 25, on AMC. After the jump, Finamore offers some other suggestions on era-appropriate food and drinks for a killer Mad Men viewing party. 

"Mad Men" Season Five Starts Sunday, March 25: What to Serve at Your Viewing Party

Let's start with the obvious: "The martini is a classic," Finamore said.

Bear in mind that this should be a real martini, and not one of those cupcake/Twizzler/chocolate shake concoctions favored by sorority girls and people who don't actually like booze.

Continue Reading

That being said, Finamore said the Mad Men era was around the time when the notion of  "women's drink" and "men's drinks" really started to come into play. As with today, a "man's drink" was typically pure alcohol, whereas women tended to order something with a touch of sweetener added, like a whiskey sour (also a great idea for your party menu).

Other cocktails to consider?

- stinger (brandy and white creme de menthe)
- Cuba Libre (light rum, lime juice, cola)
- Tom Collins (gin, lemon juice, sugar, club soda, and a garnish of a maraschino cherry and orange slice)
- vodka gimlet (vodka, fresh lime juice, sugar)
- sloe gin fizz (sloe gin, gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, soda water)
- Gibson (gin and vermouth, garnished with a cocktail onion)

As for finger foods? Finamore suggests a few simple recipes. The first two are from The Cocktail-Supper Cookbook by Marion W. Flexner (1955) and the third is from the Esquire Handbook for Hosts.

1. Sherried olives

jumbo ripe olives

Drain olives, cover in sherry and soak overnight. Drain and serve very cold.

2. Deviled pecans

1/2 pound pecans
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
"kitchen spice" (see below)

2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons allspice
2 teaspoons nutmeg
2-3 teaspoons black pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon dried lemon peel
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Heat oven to 375. Mix pecans with 1 1/2 teaspoon of "kitchen spice" and add olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well with fingers. Place in shallow pan in oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until nuts brown, stirring occasionally. Cool and add more kitchen spice to taste.

3. Petite rarebits

1/2 pound Swiss cheese, grated
1/2 pound American cheese, grated
two egg yolks
1 cup cream
toast rounds

Mix cheeses, egg yolks, and cream and spread on toast rounds. Broil under quick flame and sprinkle with paprika.  

The Norton Museum of Art recently extended the running time of "Cocktail Culture," which originally was scheduled to close this month. It will continue through April 15. Finamore will give a lecture on the cocktail culture -- including the art and fashion that goes with it -- at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 1, at the museum.

Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook and on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories