New York, New York

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 New York, New York 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.

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Doug Quinn of P.J. Clarke’s (AP Photo)

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

 New York, New York

The walls of Sardi’s are lined with hundreds of caricatures.

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 CookbookHearts 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’sdh harp 215x300 New York, New York 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.

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

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.

New York, New York….It’s a Wonderful Town

Last March, while we were researching and writing The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, we headed to the Big Apple with our sons, Danny and Noah to check out a few Mad Men haunts and to wander the streets of midtown Manhattan around Madison Avenue. We’d been so immersed in the world of 1960s New York, we wanted to see and feel and smell the city where Don Draper and Roger Sterling drank their cocktails and dined with their clients.

Shortly after checking into our hotel room, which offered an expansive view of midtown, we joined the throngs that pulsate through the streets of New York like blood flows through arteries. It was a kick to pass many of the hotels, bars and restaurants featured in Mad Men: the Waldorf-Astoria, the Roosevelt and P.J. Clarke’s among them.

Our first destination: the Grand Central Oyster Bar, located one level down from the street in Grand Central Station at 42nd Street and Park Avenue. To say Grand Central is a train station is like saying St. Peter’s Basilica is a church. Grand Central Station is a spectacular piece of architecture that conjures the golden age of rail travel when the rich and famous and powerful hitched their private coaches to trains bound for Miami, New England, Chicago and points west.

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The Grand Central Oyster Bar

The Oyster Bar, which opened in 1913, is a cavernous, bustling place, a series of domed spaces with a centrally located bar. It has served the freshest oysters in New York to presidents, high rollers such as financier “Diamond Jim” Brady, and weary travelers alike. When Don Draper and Roger Sterling take an extended and well lubricated lunch in season 1, episode 7 (“Red in the Face”), this was their likely destination for they each downed two dozen oysters that day.

Like Don and Roger, we opted to try a selection of fresh oysters our waitress recommended. But we were really there to taste the Oysters Rockefeller, and when this dish arrived, we were surprised at how different the current recipe is from the Oyster Bar’s 1960s recipe. Today the Grand Central Oyster Bar serves Oysters Rockefeller in a bed of creamed spinach and glazed with hollandaise sauce; in the Mad Men era, each oyster was coated with a spinach, shallot, parsley bread crumb topping (with a hint of alcohol) baked and served right in the pan.  This is the recipe we chose for our book because was our goal was to include only recipes authentic to the period.

 New York, New York….It’s a Wonderful Town

The Grand Central Oyster Bar’s modern version of Oysters Rockefeller

Our next stop (the one the steak-loving boys were eagerly anticipating) was Keens Steakhouse, formerly Keens Chophouse, on West 36th Street, the restaurant where Don, Pete Campbell and Pete’s jai alai obsessed friend Horace Cook retire for dinner one night. (Season 3, Episode 4, “The Arrangements.”)

The spacious, high-ceilinged Keens depicted in Mad Men doesn’t resemble the real one, however. (That’s Keens pictured just below the title of our blog.) Keens, founded in 1885 in what was then the Herald Square Theater District, is far more intimate and clubby. Its low ceiling is lined with tens of thousands of clay churchwarden pipes, each numbered and carefully catalogued by a pipe warden so pipe boys would be sure to deliver the right smoking device to each one of the 90,000 members of the Pipe Club, a group that originated at Keens in the early 1900s. In the foyer at Keens there are pipes on display used by such luminaries as Theodore Roosevelt, General Douglas MacArthur, Will Rogers, and Babe Ruth.

 New York, New York….It’s a Wonderful Town

Danny and Noah outside of Keens

Judy isn’t a steak-eater, but savored the crab cakes. Peter and the boys enjoyed thick, juicy, perfectly prepared sirloins. The main courses were just a bonus; we came for Keens’ legendary Caesar Salad, the recipe for which is unchanged since the 1960s and which Executive Chef Bill Rodgers kindly shared for our book.

Fully sated, our final stop for the evening involved a different kind of mad men (and women): we had tickets to take in a more modern day New York experience: Saturday Night Live (thank you, Tom).

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On the set of Saturday Night Live with Eugene Lee, SNL’s set designer since the show premiered in 1975

Walking back to the hotel at one in the morning, the streets were still very much alive and we reflected on how much New York has changed since we grew up in the city’s suburbs decades ago. The city is safer, cleaner and more electric than ever. But plenty of old New York – the iconic eateries, the classic buildings, and the street characters that are such an integral part of the city’s vibe – remain.