A Mad Men Holiday Cocktail Party

images5 300x139 A Mad Men Holiday Cocktail Party

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.

mad men old fashioned1 233x300 A Mad Men Holiday Cocktail Party

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.

images 1 142x300 A Mad Men Holiday Cocktail Party

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?

maitai 199x300 A Mad Men Holiday Cocktail Party

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.

mad men canadian club punch3 233x3001 A Mad Men Holiday Cocktail Party

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.

mad men canadian club punch3 233x300 Can You Take a Punch?

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.