Holiday Dinner Party Mad Men-Style

Planning A Mad Men Style Holiday Dinner Party

 Holiday Dinner Party Mad Men Style

If you’d like to capture the Mad Men spirit at your party this holiday season, we’ve prepared a special holiday menu selected from recipes in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, from cocktails to dessert. (For more cocktail suggestions click here.) You can pick and choose depending on whether you simply want to host a cocktail party, a dinner party or something in between. The Canadian Clubhouse Punch can be made in large batches and allows guests serve themselves while you join in the festivities. We also chose a few recipes with appropriate color themes: the Jade and Bacardi Stinger – with green crème de menthe , and Sardi’s red and green hearts of palm salad.  Each recipe has a connection to a specific Mad Men episode. We also offer some holiday party tips from The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook and other 1960s cookbooks.

Mad Men Holiday Menu

Cocktails

 Holiday Dinner Party Mad Men Style

Sterling Cooper Jade and/or Bacardi Stinger

(Season 1, Episode 12, “Nixon v. Kennedy”)

Canadian Clubhouse Punch and/or Lucky Strike Holiday Eggnog

(Season 4, Episode 2, “Christmas Comes But Once a Year”)

Appetizers

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Grand Central Oyster Bar’s Oysters Rockefeller

 (Season 1, Episode 7, “Red in the Face”)

Classic Shrimp Cocktail

(Season 1, Episode 4, “New Amsterdam”)

 Chutney Canapé Spread

(Season 3, Episode 9, “Wee Small Hours”)

Salads

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Sardi’s Hearts of Palm Salad

(Season 2, Episode 5, “The New Girl”)

 Connie’s Waldorf Salad

(Season 3, Episode 6, “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency”)

Main Courses

 Holiday Dinner Party Mad Men Style

 Beef Wellington

(Season 1, Episode 6, “Babylon”)

Pineapple-Glazed Ham

(Season 4, Episode 1, “Public Relations”)

Desserts

 Holiday Dinner Party Mad Men Style

Lindy’s Cherry Cheesecake

(Season 4, Episode 9, “The Beautiful Girls”)

 Popcorn Balls

(Season 4, Episode 2, “Christmas Comes But Once a Year”)

Tips for a Successful Mad Men Style Holiday Party

 Choose your guests wisely. How you mix your guests can be as important as how you mix your drinks.

(The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, 2011)

Hang sleigh bells by the front door for guests to ring to announce their arrival.

(Good Housekeeping Party Book, 1958)

Every course – from the appetizer to the dessert – should be gaily garnished in Christmas reds and greens to blend merrily with your own very special holiday centerpiece or tablecloth.

(Betty Crocker’s Hostess Cookbook, 1967)

Give guests “free ladle privileges” at the punch bowl. They’ll “be in business for themselves, quaffeteria style.”

(Esquire’s Handbook for Hosts, 1949)

 When it comes to hors d’oeuvres, “find a golden middle course…never serve too many…or too few.”

(The Instant Epicure Cookbook, 1963)

If you’re trying out a new dish this holiday season, take it for a test run before serving it to guests. Nothing will put a damper on the holiday spirit more than a misguided adventure in the kitchen.

(The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, 2011)

Happy Holidays!

 Holiday Dinner Party Mad Men Style

A Mad Men Holiday Cocktail Party

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For your holiday party with a Mad Men-twist this year we’ve compiled a can’t-miss cocktail menu with several of our favorite Mad Men libations. You can find the recipes in our new book, The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, along with tips for throwing a successful Mad Men–style cocktail party.

In almost any episode of Mad Men you’ll see enough alcohol to sink a ship, not to mention a struggling mid-size Madison Avenue advertising firm. So, let’s travel back to the early 1960s when Elvis was King, John F. Kennedy was President and Don Draper was Mayor of Madison Avenue.

Unless you want to spend the evening bartending, we advise you to select just a few types of cocktail. Pick and choose from the selections below based on your guests’ cocktail preferences.

Old Fashioned. It’s the very first food or drink seen in Mad Men, at the opening of the first episode. Don Draper and an Old Fashioned go together like pastrami and rye. Bourbon or rye (the liquid kind) is the central ingredient in this classic and to make it Don’s way you’ll have to muddle the cherry.

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Old Fashioned

Martini. For every Old Fashioned Don drinks, Roger Sterling has at least one Martini, maybe more. It’s hard to imagine a simpler cocktail, vermouth and gin are the only ingredients in a classic martini unless you count the olive or cocktail onion, but proportion and quality ingredients are key. This iconic cocktail of the Mad Men era is sure to be a hit.

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Martini

Mai Tai. This fruity concoction is lavishly decorated with slices of fruit, miniature paper umbrella and swizzle sticks of vaguely Polynesian appearance. “That’s quite a drink,” says Don when department store Rachel Menken orders one at El Morocco. Since this is a season when decorations are everywhere, why not in your drink?

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Mai Tai

Brandy Alexander. Another drink ”for the ladies,” as Roger might refer to it, the BrandyAlexander is practically a confection made with crème de cacao, brandy and cream. Peggy Olson likes hers very sweet: to each, her own.

 A Mad Men Holiday Cocktail Party

Brandy Alexander

Jade. Christmas conjures images of red and green so the Jade, which derives its color from green Crème de Menthe, is a perfect complement to your holiday gathering (or when your drowning your sorrows after Nixon’s loss to Kennedy in the 1960 election and there’s only Crème de Menthe left in the Sterling Cooper liquor closet).

 A Mad Men Holiday Cocktail Party

Jade

Canadian Clubhouse Punch. For the host or hostess who would rather join in the fun than serve drinks all night this popular punch featured in Canadian Club’s 1961 holiday advertising is the perfect choice for December festivities. Made with Don Draper’s preferred brand, your guests can serve themselves. But since punch should be pre-mixed, your guests won’t know what in it or in what quantities so be careful: punch can really pack a punch.

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Canadian Clubhouse Punch

Stork Club Cocktail Punch. Another cocktail that can be simplified by serving it in a punch bowl is the Stork Club Cocktail, a creation of the gone but not forgotten hub of New York café society for four decades. The Stork Club was, according to famed gossip columnist Walter Winchell, “New York’s New Yorkiest place,” frequented by the likes of Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and, of course, the glamorous Don and Betty Draper. Triple Sec, gin and Angostura bitters are the foundation of what one might call New York’s New Yorkiest cocktail.

 A Mad Men Holiday Cocktail Party

Stork Club Cocktail

Eggnog. Finally, what holiday party would be complete without this classic of the season. You can use cognac, brandy or rum as your base ingredient. The other ingredients read like a list of items for a fabulous dessert. It’s a hit at the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Christmas Party in 1964, and is certain to add cheer to your holiday celebration this year.

 A Mad Men Holiday Cocktail Party

Eggnog

Can You Take a Punch?

What is it about punch? Is it the fruity, easy on the palate taste? The impunity with which you can consume a self-serve alcoholic beverage with no one knowing you’re back for fourths? The festive atmosphere it imparts to a social gathering? Or is it that the punch bowl is a party’s equivalent of the office water cooler: a place to gather, chat and refill? Punch was a fixture at many a party and social gathering in the 1960s, but today you’d be hard pressed to find a household in which the punch bowl hasn’t been mothballed along with the 9-inch black and white TV.

Unlike most alcoholic drinks, when you dip into a punch bowl you often have no idea what’s in it, or how potent it might be. And since many punches have a sweet, fruity taste, it’s easy to forget that a punch can pack a punch. Punch can be made with brandy, gin, sherry, whisky or rum. Indeed, it’s widely thought that the term “punch” is a shortened version “puncheon,” a cask used to transport rum. Others suggest it derives from the Hindu word for “five” (panch) referring to five ingredients in a concoction the British found in 16th century India and which has evolved into modern punch. References to punch in North America date as far back as the late 17th century and it was a staple of many a fancy social gathering. A fine punch bowl was a fixture in the best homes.

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Canadian Clubhouse Punch

Punch was especially popular as a holiday treat, and is a prominent feature of the buffet table at Sterling Cooper’s 1964 Christmas party. (Season 4, Episode 2, “Christmas Comes But Once a Year.”) The firm was struggling and office manager/party planner extraordinaire Joan Harris was under instructions to keep costs down. But when Roger Sterling learns that Lee Garner, Jr., the arrogant, party-boy son of Lucky Strike owner Lee Garner, Sr., is going to be in town, they have to pull out all the stops and put on a show. Lucky Strike is the firm’s biggest account, Lee loves Christmas, and Roger will do whatever it takes to keep his most important happy.

We don’t know what went into the Sterling Cooper holiday punch, so we set out to come up with a punch for The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook that would have been fitting for the firm’s holiday party. Many were too sweet, others too potent. Then we came upon a 1961 advertisement for Canadian Club whisky that included “a recipe for an extra note of cheer,” called Canadian Clubhouse Punch. Since Canadian Club is Don Draper’s preferred brand of whisky we thought it was a natural for the Sterling Cooper holiday party, and we loved it too: a delicious blend of fruit juice, Canadian Club and brandy.

Another favorite punch in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook is The Stork Club Cocktail, a combination of fruit juices, triple sec and gin which works well as a single cocktail or a punch. At testing parties we hosted while preparing the book, The Stork Club Cocktail disappeared fast.

The famed gossip columnist Walter Winchell once called The Stork Club on 53rd Street near Fifth Avenue, “New York’s New Yorkiest place.” Opened in 1929, the Stork Club Can You Take a Punch? became the hub of New York society and attracted movie stars, aristocrats, showgirls, and business moguls. Money, power, and glamour mixed at the Stork Club as in no other place in New York, and its air of exclusivity made it all the more appealing. Among the legions of the rich and famous to frequent the Stork Club were Grace Kelly, Charlie Chaplin, Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, the Kennedys…and Sterling Cooper’s own Don Draper and his wife, Betty. When comedian Jimmy Barrett seals a deal for his new television show with ABC, the Stork Club hosts the celebration. (Season 2, Episode 7, “The Gold Violin.”) The Stork Club closed in 1965, but the legend lives on.

Today, punch is just as likely to be mixed in a trash bag-lined garbage can at a fraternity party as appear at a country-club wedding. But it was once a sign of sophistication and mixing one just right a form of alchemy.

Cooking Up The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook

Judy has written two cookbooks pairing food with literature, so it wasn’t a huge stretch to see why she was so curious about the food and drink seen in Mad Men. Just as authors use food and drink to establish time, place and mood, so do directors. Mad Men is justly renowned for its exquisite attention to period detail. If you grew up near New York in the 1960s, as we did, you know Mad Men, though filmed largely in Los Angeles, evokes 1960s Manhattan with arresting accuracy. Everything feels right about it: from the furniture and the narrow neckties to the restaurants and the food. It speaks volumes about Judy that while most female viewers were enjoying the cut of Don Draper’s jib, she was trying to figure out, “what did Betty use to glaze that ham in her fridge?”

 Cooking Up The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook

The Drapers and the Cleavers shared an era but not a lifestyle.

Judy was addicted to Mad Men for four seasons before she finally persuaded husband Peter to watch. And then he was hooked. Peter agreed: it was like peeking into our parents’ world with the benefit of adult perspective. The people in Mad Men may dress like the Cleavers and the Andersons, live in neat suburban homes like them and eat similar foods, too, but Mad Men serves up a much different, more complicated and cynical world than the one we thought we grew up in. Ward and June Cleaver never touched alcohol and there was never a hint they were unfaithful to each other, either.

Our goal was to create a cookbook with recipes for food and drink that appear in Mad Men and which were authentic to the times. And we wanted every recipe in our book had to tie in to a specific scene in Mad Men. Historical context was critical so viewers might better understand why the creators might have chosen these foods and these bars and restaurants to feature in the show. For example, why all the Mai Tais? The quick answer is that with the new addition of Hawaii to the Union, Americans were fascinated with Polynesian culture. Why the many French restaurants? Julia Child had just burst on the scene and was popularizing the French cusine detailed in her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. And America’s royalty, President and Mrs. Kennedy were so fond of French food, they hired a French chef as their White House chef. For Mad Men fans who are also foodies, we thought this kind of gastronomic history would enhance their appreciation of Mad Men and the pinpoint accuracy of its re-creation of 1960s New York.

Our first step in creating The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook was to note every item of foodTheUnofficialMadMenCookbook FrontCover 233x300 Cooking Up The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook and every restaurant seen or mentioned in the first four seasons of Mad Men, from Spam to ham, from caviar to Chicken Kiev; from absinthe and crème de menthe to Canadian Club whisky and Smirnoff’s vodka; from Keens Chophouse (now Keens Steakhouse) and the Forum of the Twelve Caesars (now defunct) to Barbetta and the Grand Central Oyster Bar.

Our next step was to obtain as many recipes as possible from restaurants, bars and hotels featured in the show that are still operating today. If the recipe had changed over the years, as it had, for example, for the Grand Central Oyster Bar’s Oysters Rockefeller, we wanted the recipe for the version served in 1962. Sometimes a concoction we were looking for had long since been extinct. The Beverly Hills Hotel hasn’t served a Royal Hawaiian cocktail in decades, but since Pete Campbell sips one poolside on a visit to L.A. we wanted the privilege of tasting one, too, and the Beverly Hills Hotel was able to oblige, though they had to dig deep to find the recipe.

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The authors taking a break from a marathon Mad Men cooking session.

Next we pored over countless period cookbooks, magazines and advertisements (after all, Mad Men is about the advertising industry), not only for recipes, but to learn about the dining and culinary trends of the era. We also looked for cookbooks the characters might have used, or those we saw on their kitchen counters. When Joan Harris (formerly Holloway) made that crown roast in her tiny kitchen to serve at a dinner party, we turned to The Small Kitchen Cookbook by Nina Mortellito (Walker and Company, 1964) for a recipe. When Pete Campbell asks his new wife to make rib eye in the pan, we thought a logical cookbook selection for Trudy cooking for her “ad man” would have been The Madison Avenue Cookbook by Alan Koehler (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962). Then we tested and retested recipes to make sure they worked and that the result was, if not delicious, as least close.

As Mad Men’s season five approaches, we look forward to renewing our pursuit inside the kitchens, restaurants and bars of Mad Men.

Shoot!

A good cookbook should not only please your sense of taste (both literal and aesthetic), but should be a feast for your eyes, too. After all, how food looks has a lot to do with its appeal.  Last week we wrote about some of the misconceptions about the culinary landscape of the 1960s: it wasn’t just a world of frozen vegetables, canned fruit and Jell-O molds. Then, as always, there was fine cuisine to be had that was pleasing to the palate and the eyes. To help make the case, we engaged Nina Gallant, an accomplished food photographer, and Catrine Kelty, an equally accomplished food stylist, to shoot a series of color photographs for The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook.

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Canadian Clubhouse Punch as shot by an amateur.

The smell of pineapple upside down cake was wafting down the driveway as Judy pulled up to Catrine’s house for photo shoot about 9 o’clock one late spring morning. It wasn’t the first cake our intrepid stylist had whipped up that morning; she’d been at it since 5:00 am. Catrine is nothing if not efficient. There isn’t a wasted movement, or a wasted minute, in her carefully choreographed kitchen routines.

As the stylist it was her job to prepare the food for the shoot and to select period-appropriate linens, place settings, and other props so we wouldn’t have, say, ultramodern Swedish utensils in a book trying to evoke the 1960s. Catrine usually has on hand every prop you could imagine for a food shoot, but this was a special collection assembled for our book and she obviously had fun coming up with the pairings for our recipes.

We knew, of course, that we’d have to be selective: in a book with over 70 recipes, you can’t have a full color photo of everyone without breaking the budget. So, Nina, Catrine and Judy went back and forth before the shoot trying to discern which finished dishes would photograph well and whet the appetites of readers. Salads, with their multiple and often colorful ingredients would appeal, but the more complex hearts of palm salad seemed a better choice than, say, the simple (but delicious) wedge salad. And a photo of the avocado and crabmeat mimosa, which isn’t familiar to most people, would be more informative than a classic shrimp cocktail. After debating the virtues and vices of many of the recipes in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook about a dozen dishes were selected for the shoot, with each major food group represented. No, we don’t mean the food groups you learned as a kid in school; we mean the food groups in our book: cocktails, appetizers, salads, main course and desserts.

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Nina and Catrine setting up a shot.

For those of us to whom photography is a point and shoot enterprise, it’s astonishing to watch the preparation that goes into each shot when you are working with a pro like Nina. She tried to take maximize the use of the natural light in Catrine’s home, but each shot still required framing the shot, trying different linens (there’s always an offending wrinkle in the linen!) and drink ware, finding new colors, and tinkering to eliminate shadows. When to Judy’s eye, everything was perfect, well, Nina and Catrine tried something else. The background martini glass is too large. We need another fork. Let’s move the olive tray. The pears need to re-glazed. There’s always another idea to try and Judy soon began to wonder if it might take a full week to do it right.

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Lunch!

By noon, many of the dishes were still to be styled and shot, but lunchtime is lunchtime and since Catrine had prepared Gambas au beurre d’Escargot (Shrimp in Snail Butter), blini with caviar, hearts of palm salad, gazpacho, and canapés for the morning shoot, a delicious lunch was ready and waiting (being a cookbook author can be very tough work). To wash it down there was no choice but the Canadian Clubhouse Punch.

For Nina and Catrine it’s all about controlling the color, the light, the texture. But the most admirable control of the day was the self-control of Catrine’s dog, Caper. He’s like a part of the crew, his tail or nose just barely off-camera. But how he restrains himself in the face of a rib-eye in the pan is truly remarkable.

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Caper doesn’t seem the least bit interested in the rib-eye on the table.

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Canadian Clubhouse Punch as shot by a couple of pros.

Even Don Draper and Roger Sterling had to go back to the office, no matter how many oysters, Martinis and Old Fashioneds they’d had at lunch, and so it was for the photographer and stylist. But with seven photos to shoot after lunch could all thirteen be done by 6 p.m? When that hour rolls around it’s down to the final two: the crabmeat mimosa and Oysters Rockefeller, but the oysters still need to be shucked, a job no one is looking forward to…and Catrine’s book club is arriving in a half hour for a non-Mad Men-style dinner! The last two shots will have to wait until morning.

 

The photo shoot was more work for this dynamic duo than we ever imagined, but the results…well, they speak for themselves and prove that when it comes to taste, a picture can be worth a thousand words.

What a Difference an “E” Makes

Whiskey or whisky? That is the question. If Don Draper were answering he’d clearly call for whisky, which is how Canadian Club, his preferred brand, spells it. The American usage is “whiskey,” but Canadian Club, which hails from Ontario, uses the Scottish spelling, “whisky.” This explains why a bottle of Jack Daniels from Tennessee says “whiskey” on the label and a bottle of Glenfiddich, distilled in Dufftown, Banffshire says “whisky.” It was enough to give the proofreader for The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook fits.CC Bottle 1956 to 19621 85x300 What a Difference an E Makes

There are many types of whisky/whiskey. Bourbon is a corn-based spirit distilled to no more than 160 proof (80 percent alcohol) and aged at least two years. Tennessee whiskey is similar, but is filtered through sugar maple and charcoal. Rye makes a lighter flavored, but still full bodied whiskey and is often blended with other whiskeys to make a final product. Such blended whiskeys are often simply called “rye” despite the additional ingredients. Canadian Club is such a blended whisky, made of corn, rye, rye malt, and barley distillates. Almost all whiskeys are aged for years in charred wooden barrels to add flavor and are typically 80 to 100 proof. And what is malt? Malt is cereal grains made to germinate by soaking them in water, and then dried with hot air.

Though Seagram’s and Crown Royal were also popular in the 1960s, Don’s fealty to Canadian Club is admirable: an ad man has to have a brand, whether it’s the cigarette he smokes or the whisky he sips morning ‘till night.

Seagram’s Seven Crown was an “American whiskey blend” distilled and blended in Connecticut by the Canadian company, Seagram’s, and Seagram’s V.O. was a blended Canadian whisky made in Canada. Crown Royal is a blended Canadian whisky distilled and blended in Canada by The Crown Royal Company of Connecticut. (Both the Seagram’s and Crown Royal brands are now owned by the British firm Diageo.) If this all sounds terribly confusing, remember this: if you’re drinking whisky it’s almost certainly from Scotland or Canada and if you’re drinking whiskey, it is just as certainly from the United States. And if you’re drinking Canadian Club you can be sure it was distilled and blended in Canada by a Canadian company that knows its whisky.

Now that we have that cleared up, if you’re not sipping your whisky (or whiskey) straight (or “neat,” as Roger Sterling might say), you may want to mix yourself Don’s favorite cocktail, an Old Fashioned. There have been many variations over the years with much attention paid to how to dissolve the sugar: some say water, others seltzer, and still others the bitters. The first recipe calling for orange and cherry together, as part of the cocktail itself and not simply a garnish, appeared in 1933, but various recipes have incorporated orange curaçao, pineapple, lemon peel, simple syrup (instead of sugar), and even Absinthe.

There is no definitive Old Fashioned recipe, but if Don were making it, he’d almost certainly use his “beloved rye,” as Roger once described it (season 1, episode 7; “Red in the Face”). And he loved no rye more than Canadian Club. (Bourbon can also be used.) Our recipe for an Old Fashioned in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook is courtesy of the legendary Grand Central Oyster Bar located inside New York’s Grand Central Station.

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The Grand Central Oyster Bar circa 1960

Old Fashioned Cocktail

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 19 minutes

1 drink

 What a Difference an E Makes

The classic recipe for Don Draper's preferred Old Fashioned Cocktail, from one of his favorite Mad Men haunts: The Grand Central Oyster Bar, New York, New York.

Ingredients

  • Note: Bourbon or rye may be used in the Old Fashioned. Rye was originally used, and the Grand Central Oyster Bar is starting to use rye again in these drinks; they use Michter’s, but Don would, as noted, likely choose Canadian Club.
  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Few drops of Angostura bitters
  • A splash of soda water to muddle ingredients
  • 2 ½ ounces rye or bourbon

Instructions

  1. In a mixing glass, muddle orange slice, cherry, sugar, bitters and a little soda water: using a muddler, push around and break up cherry and orange until flavor is released.
  2. Add soda water so cherry is wet and sugar is melted. Add bourbon or rye and serve over rocks, if desired.
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Canadian Clubhouse Punch

Another terrific Canadian Club recipe is Canadian Clubhouse Punch, but you’ll have to wait for The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook for that recipe. We expect to be serving this flavorful punch at some of our book events. If you’re in the area stop by and we’ll make a toast to the upcoming season of Mad Men.