Last week the Associated Press travel editor interviewed us about our recommendations for iconic Mad Men haunts for fans touring New York. (Read the article here.) There are so many outstanding choices, it’s hard to decide, but here are a just few of our favorites.
It’s an easy stroll from the mythical Madison Avenue offices of Sterling Cooper to our first stop, Grand Central Station. Take a few moments to soak in and admire this architectural gem. You’ll be transported to an era when Diamond Jim Brady might have board his private coach car for a trip to Chicago. When you’re ready for lunch, step into one of Diamond Jim’s favorites, The Grand Central Oyster Bar, located below street level in the train station. This was and is a favorite of the denizens of Madison Avenue, too, and the likely location for Don and Roger’s famous two-dozen oyster lunch (with alcohol, of course). Roger compared eating oysters to kissing a mermaid. You can choose from dozens of types of fresh oysters. Unless you already have a favorite (Wellfleet, Bluestones, Chesapeake to name a few), ask your server for a sampler.
Walk off lunch by wandering the great avenues of midtown — Madison, Park and Fifth – until you’ve worked up a thirst. Then stop by P.J. Clarke’s on Third Avenue and 55th Street and order a Vesper or Side Car from legendary barkeep Doug Quinn. This is where the Sterling Cooper crowd often gathered after work. (Tell Doug we sent you!)
When the dinner bell rings, head for Barbetta at 321 West 46th Street, the elegant northern Italian restaurant where Don takes young Bethany Van Nuys on their first date. Or, try Sardi’s, the culinary heart of Broadway, where you’re likely to spot someone famous, either in person or on the walls in the hundreds of caricatures of legendary actors and
entertainers who have seated themselves there. You can order exactly what Don orders for himself and Bobbi Barrett because it’s still on the menu: Steak Tartar. He also orders a dish no longer on the menu, but it’s one of our very favorite recipes from The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, Hearts of Palm Salad. If it’s a succulent, perfectly prepared steak you’re after, served with rich New York ambience, go where Don and Pete Campbell go to entertain Pete’s friend Horace Cook: Keens Steakhouse at 73 West 36th Street. Order the Caesar Salad and they’ll prepare it tableside, a real touch of class.
If it’s a Tuesday night between now and the end of Season 5 of Mad Men in June, you can take in jazz and a Mad Men-inspired cocktail at The Pierre Hotel’s Two E Bar/Lounge (2 East 61st Street), the successor to the Tea Room where Don meets Rachel Menken for coffee to try and relight an old flame. And when it’s time to turn in The Roosevelt Hotel at 45 East 45th Street is offering a special “Mad Men in the City” package from now until June 30. It includes a complimentary copy of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook! Many Mad Men scenes are set at The Roosevelt, so create your own scene where Don takes up residence after his split from Betty.
If you find yourself heading uptown on the West Side, for either a night cap or for an early morning libation, visit The Dublin House at 225 West 79th Street. This is where Joan’s husband, Dr. Greg Harris, gets loaded one evening before coming home. Years ago, The Dublin House was a rough and tumble neighborhood bar where construction workers and newly arrived sailors whose shipped had docked at the West Side piers would start the day with a shot of whiskey and a beer. In those days the Rusty Nail was one of only two or three cocktails served at The Dublin House, though the cocktail menu has expanded over the years. As it says on their web site, “back in the day, people stopped in for a couple before work, so The Dublin House has always opened at 8 am. Always has, still does, every day except Sunday when it opens at noon.” You could always choose to start your Mad Men tour here, early in the morning, but don’t overdo it.
Whether you’re a New Yorker or a visitor, be sure to enter our Dine Like a Mad Man Sweepstakes. You could win drinks and dinner at some of these and other Mad Men establishments. And if you aren’t going to be in the Big Apple in the near future, but want to get your Mad Man on, check out our list of Mad Men inspired events around the country.