The Two E Bar/Lounge

Again this week we continue our profiles of the New York dining establishments that have contributed prizes to our “Dine Like a Mad Man” Sweepstakes which you can enter by going to our Facebook page and clicking “Dine Like a Mad Man.”

1blackfray 300x182 The Two E Bar/LoungeThe Pierre Hotel on East 61st Street features in several Mad Men episodes. It’s where Peggy Olson and Herman “Duck” Phillips have a tryst (Season 3, Episode 7, “Seven Twenty-Three”) and, when the principals of Sterling Cooper break away from the British owners to start their new agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, the temporarily set up shop in Room 435 of The Pierre (Season 3, Episode 13, “Shut the Door, Have a Seat”).

The Pierre’s debut in Mad Men came in Season 1, Episode 6 (“Babylon”). Whenmad men irish coffee 219x300 The Two E Bar/Lounge Don tries to resurrect his romance with department store heiress Rachel Menken, she agrees to meet him, but just for lunch, at the Tea Room at The Pierre. Don tries to arm her up by suggesting she have Irish Coffee, but she firmly demurs. “Coffee,” she counters.

Today The Pierre is part of the Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces and underwent a $100 million renovation in 2009. The Tea Room is history, but the hotel’s Two E Bar/Lounge serves the Irish Coffee Don offered to Rachel. (You can find the recipe, courtesy of The Two E Bar/Lounge, in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook.) Tipping their hat to Mad Men, the Two E Bar/Lounge has compiled a menu of Mad Men cocktails they serve every Tuesday evening from 6:30 to 9:30 pm as part of their jazz series.

The Pierre New York The Two E Bar/Lounge

The Pierre

An evening for two at The Two E Bar/Lounge is one of several fine prizes in our sweepstakes. If you’re the lucky winner try the  Pierre Salad (maine lobster, cucumber, black truffle vinaigrette), the Tuna, Avocado and Mango Tartare or one of their other future classics. Oh, and top it off with the Classic Irish Coffee, of course!

Gather Round the Round Table

Again this week we continue our tour of the New York restaurants that generously donated prizes for our “Dine Like a Mad Man” Sweepstakes, which you can enter from our Facebook page by clicking “Dine Like a Mad Man.”

Today we visit The Algonquin Hotel on West 44th Street, home of the famed Round Table, for which one of the hotel’s current restaurants is named. Between Gather Round the Round Table1919 and 1929 a distinguished group of writers, actors, humorists, wits, wags and critics met for lunch every day at The Algonquin and sat at a round table in the hotel restaurant. Membership was fluid and at one time or another included famed sportswriter Heywood Broun, New Yorker editor Harold Ross, actress Tallulah Bankhead and Harpo Marx. (We assume the silent Harpo of the silver screen actually spoke during lunch.) The repartee was quick. According to

 Gather Round the Round Table

A classic view of the famed Round Table

the Algonquin’s web site, “one afternoon, Round Table member Edna Ferber arrived at The Algonquin in a new suit similar to the one Noel Coward was wearing. “You look almost like a man,” Coward said as he greeted her. “So do you,” replied Ferber. The cocktails were just as snappy: The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook includes a recipe for a Classic Algonquin Cocktail, courtesy of The Blue Bar’s Rodney Landers.

The Algonquin appears in Mad Men only by reference, in Season 1, Episode 9, “Shoot.” When Jim Hobart, an executive at McCann Erickson, one of New York’s leading ad agencies, tries to lure Don Draper from Sterling Cooper he suggests a meeting at The Algonquin. If the meeting ever takes place, we don’t see it.

00016L1 231x300 Gather Round the Round TableThe Round Table Restaurant of today was known as the Rose Room in Don Draper’s time. Had they met for lunch they have been given the menu you see pictured here. Don would have had trouble picking from among the delicacies on offer, from Lobster Cocktail ($3.95), Broiled Filet Mignon ($7.25) and Breaded Veal Cutlet Milanaise ($3.95) to Cold Cream Vichyssoise ($.80), Half Broiled Spring Chicken ($3.60) and Filet of Lemon Sole Amandine ($3.50). According to Alex Aubry, Director of Food and Beverage at The Algonquin, the Lemon Sole remains a favorite as do other dishes you could find on 1960s menus from The Algonquin including Chicken Livers Caruso and Scallops Al’anglaise Spaghetti. But there have been changes, too. Today, Don could order a Farmstand salad with baby field greens, roasted beets, goat cheese and candied walnuts in a balsamic glaze ($19.00), BBQ pulled pork sliders ($20.00) or miso glazed ahi tuna ($32.00), though these dishes might be as perplexing to him as an iPhone with built in GPS.

So, if you’d like to win lunch for two at The Algonquin’s Round Table, visit us on Facebook and click “Dine Like a Mad Man.” Good luck!

P.S. If you love Mad Men as we do, visit the Lipp sisters blog Basket of Kisses where you’ll find smart writing about Mad Men and other television favorites.

Grazie Barbetta!

This week we continue our tour of the New York restaurants that generously donated prizes for our “Dine Like a Mad Man” Sweepstakes, which you can enter from our Facebook page by clicking “Dine Like a Mad Man!”

maindiningPIC1 300x233 Grazie Barbetta!

The main dining room at Barbetta

When Don Draper begins dating the lovely Bethany Van Nuys in Season 4, we first see them at a Benihana Steakhouse, one of many restaurant chains that surfed the wave of American interest in Polynesian and Japanese foods that accompanied Hawaii statehood in 1959. They’re seated around a teppanyaki table with other guests, hardly the intimate dinner Bethany had in mind. Perhaps to atone, Don and Bethany’s next date is at the very elegant Barbetta on West 46th Street, founded in 1906 and operated to this day by the founder’s daughter Laura Maioglio. Specializing in northern Italian cuisine from the Piemonte region, Barbetta is the oldest Italian restaurant in New York still run by the founding family.

Like Executive Chef Bill Rodgers of Keens Steakhouse, Maiolglio had no advance notice Barbetta would be depicted in Mad Men. She learned about it when diners who had seen the episode mentioned it to her. “I have looked at the show often since its inception because of the excitement and buzz that it immediately caused and because it deals with the very years in which I recreated and relaunched Barbetta,” Laura wrote us.

Since viewers never see or hear what Don and Bethany order at Barbetta, when writing The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook we asked Maioglio to imagine what they might have ordered in 1964. As luck would have it, in the 1990s she began putting the date each dish first appeared on the menu on the menu and she suggested the roasted fresh peppers alla bagna cauda, which first appeared in 1962, and for dessert pears baked in red wine alla piemontese, which also debuted that year at Barbetta. Many other dishes served at Barbetta today first appeared on the menu in the early 1960s including fonduta with fresh white truffles.

clinton photo 300x225 Grazie Barbetta!

The Clinton’s with Laura Maioglio and her husband, Nobel Prize winner in medicine Gunter Blobel

When Don and Bethany dine at Barbetta they cross paths with Betty and her new husband Henry Francis, an aide to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. It’s an awkward moment. But Henry wasn’t the only politically connected New Yorker or politician to savor Barbetta’s charms in the early 1960s and ever since. Guests have included Governor and Mrs. Rockefeller themselves, many members of the Kennedy family and, recently, former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Barbetta was also popular among giants of the fashion industry such as Oleg Cassini, Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta and Ralph Lauren, Hollywood stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Woody Allen and Dudley Moore and musical leading lights such as Igor Stravinsky, Leonard Bernstein, James Levine and Yehudi Menuhin.

If you’d like to experience the very finest in Italian dining in New York, enter the sweepstakes. You could win a dinner valued at $500 at Barbetta and Maioglio will help you pick just the right wine.

Here’s Looking at You: Lunch at Keens

Banquet Lincoln over1 Heres Looking at You: Lunch at Keens

The Lincoln Banquet Room at Keens

We last wrote about Keens Steakhouse on West 36th Street in September in our very first blog entry. We’re going back to Keens today as we begin a series of features about the restaurants that have generously donated prizes for our “Dine Like a Mad Man” Sweepstakes. (Entry info below. For more on the prizes, click here.) It was called Keens Chophouse in Don Draper’s day, but much about Keens remains the same today. And that’s a good thing because you won’t find a better steak or Caesar salad in New York than Keens’. We’ve often commented, as have others, on Mad Men’s fastidious attention to period detail, including the food and drink. But when we visited Keens last year we noticed that it didn’t resemble the Keens depicted in Mad Men (Season 3, Episode 4, “The Arrangements”) where Don, Pete Campbell and Pete’s friend Horace (“Hoho”) Cook retire to discuss Hoho’s half-baked plans to make jai alai a major national sport. Perhaps its expecting too much for a show filmed in L.A. to recreate the interiors of every New York restaurant depicted, but Keens’ warm, Victorian interior is very distinctive (that’s Keens in the banner of our blog): the ceiling is lined with tens of thousands of clay churchwarden pipes that belonged to members of the city’s Pipe Club which originated at Keens in the early 1900s. We were surprised when Keens Executive Chef Bill Rodgers told us that until we contacted him while writing The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook he had no idea there was a Mad Men scene in a recreated Keens.

About Mutton photo 300x208 Heres Looking at You: Lunch at Keens

Keens Famous Mutton Chop

If you had been the fourth at lunch with Don, Pete and Hoho at Keens in 1962, the cover of the lunch menu delivered by your waiter would have read, “Here’s Looking at You” and the mutton chop, priced at $6.95, was highly touted: “With special pride we recommend Keens’ Famous English Mutton Chop (There is nothing else like it).” Today, be prepared to pay $45 for what a reviewer for New York Magazine called, “a colossal roasted hunk of flavorfulAbout Mutton Ad1 Heres Looking at You: Lunch at Keens mature lamb.” Keens mutton chop has been fawned over by critics from James Beard to Frank Bruni. The restaurant opened in 1885 and when it served its one-millionth mutton chop it was news worthy of The New York Times…in 1935! (For more on the history of Keens, visit their web site.) We feature Keens excellent Caesar Salad in our book, a recipe that remains unchanged since the Mad Men era. But many other Keens staples remain as popular today as they were half a century ago. According to Bill Rodgers the English Mutton Chop, Filet Mignon, and Prime Rib are still favorites as are the Crabmeat Cocktail, Cape Cod Oysters, Oysters Rockefeller and sliced tomato salad with onion and Stilton cheese. Food fads come and go but Keens remains true to its chophouse origins.

If you want to try Keens for yourself, you’ll have chance if you enter our Dine Like a Mad Men Sweepstakes. Visit our Facebook page and click “Dine Like a Mad Man.” You could win dinner for two courtesy of Keens!

Make That a Double

Maybe it was just coincidence, but on Christmas Day, The New York Times business section had a front page, top-of-the-fold feature about the boom in bourbon sales (“Bourbon’s All-American Roar”) while the travel section had a full page feature declaring that “rye is back” (“Rye is Back, With Flavors of Americana”). As we point out in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, bourbon and rye are both whiskeys. Bourbon is a corn-based spirit distilled to no more than Make That a Double 160 proof, while rye is a purely rye-based whiskey, though the term is also used to describe a blended whiskey made from corn, rye, rye malt and barley distillates. Bourbon and rye are the foundation of several cocktails featured in Mad Men including the Old Fashioned, which can be made with either, though Don Draper prefers his with rye, the Mint Julep and, of course, the Manhattan.

We don’t know if Mad Men has anything to do with this resurgence of bourbon and rye, but an ad man like Don would probably agree with the Times’s Mickey Meece that, “today’s bourbon boom represents a triumph of salesmanship.” Even in this tough economy, bourbon distillers are thriving, “cashing in on an American renaissance in whiskey-based cocktails, as well as a growing thirst for bourbon around the world.” Bourbon even has the imprimatur of the United States Congress which decreed in 1964 (the middle of the Mad Men era) that “bourbon whiskey is a distinctive product of the United States.” In a move that might make a purist cringe, distillers are even creating flavored bourbons infused with cherry, honey and spice.

images3 166x300 Make That a DoubleRye, a mid-19th century staple, largely fell out of favor by the mid-20th century, yielding to bourbon. But, as Ronnie Tsui writes in the Times, “rye has emerged as the go-to craft spirit of the moment.”

Though it still lives in the shadow of bourbon, rye afficionados claim it is livelier and drier than bourbon, writes Tsui, noting that three of the most classic whiskey cocktails – the Old Fashioned, Manhattan and Sazerac (named for the New Orleans bar where the cocktail was invented) – were all initially made with rye. Rye, too, has quite an American heritage: the nation’s largest producer in 1799 was none other than former President George Washington who died that year; he made 11,000 gallons of the stuff annually.

 Make That a DoubleWe have recipes for the Old Fashioned and Manhattan in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, but not the Sazerac, so we’ll include one here, but understand that there are probably as many versions of the Sazerac as there are bartenders in New Orleans! This rendition is adapted from Esquire’s Handbook for Hosts (Grosset & Dunlap, 1949).

Sazerac

Ingredients

a few drops of Absinthe or Pernod

ice cubes

3 dashes Peychaud bitters

2 ounces rye whiskey

1 lemon twist, for garnish

Directions

1. Store an Old Fashioned glass in the freezer until thoroughly chilled.

2. Put the Absinthe or Pernod into chilled glass, then tilt and roll the glass until the inside is thoroughly coated.

3. Place ice cubes in a tall mixing glass and add rye and Peychaud bitters. Stir until well-chilled.

4. Pour, without the ice, into chilled glass. Add lemon twist.

Yield: 1 drink