An Old Fashioned Kind of Guy: Mad Men Season 5 Finale

Mad Men Season 5 ended, as Season 1 began, with Don Draper ordering an Old g bites don draper old fashioned kq 120323.photoblog500 300x225 An Old Fashioned Kind of Guy: Mad Men Season 5 FinaleFashioned. The season finale (“The Phantom”) featured only this one cocktail, but it’s Don’s signature drink. We surmise this signals a return to the Don we came to know and, well, love, in a way. It was a different Don this season, happily married, or so it seemed, faithful, except in his dreams, and somehow lighter and brighter than the heavily burdened Don of seasons past. But Don is seeming a bit more old fashioned himself as the series moves into 1967; the world is changing around him, but Don? He’s going backwards.

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The Lipp Sisters with Rich Sommer at Smithfields

One of us (Peter) was in Manhattan last night, and attended the viewing party at Smithfield’s on West 28th Street hosted by Mad Men bloggers extraordinaire (Basket of Kisses), the Lipp Sisters. The special guest was the very genuine and gracious Rich Sommer, known to Mad Men fans as Harry Crane. He stayed to watch the finale which, we suspect, he was watching for the first time along with the rest of us.

Our Season 5 culinary recap (below) includes many highlights —  from orange sherbet at Howard Johnson’s to Megan’s Beef Bourguignon and visits to restaurants, some now gone, some still going, such as Ratner’s Deli, Danny’s Hideaway, Trader Vic’s and The Minetta Tavern.

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Peter and Rich Sommer at the Season 5 Finale Party in New York (photo: Therese Bohn)

It already seems like a long wait for Season 6, so we recommend getting your fix by mixing cocktails and making recipes from The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, as well as few from this season. Start with Don’s Old Fashioned and, as always, be sure to muddle the cherry.

We’ll be posting occasionally between now and Season 6, but our regular every Monday

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Ratner’s Vegetable Cutlets with Gravy (photo: Nina Gallant)

schedule will resume when Mad Men returns in 2013. Also check our Facebook page and Twitter for news!






Culinary Highlights from Season 5

Where did Don, Roger and the rest of the Sterling Cooper crew dine out or order in from? Season 5 featured Trader Vic’s, Howard Johnson’s, The Hemisphere Club, the Minetta Tavern, Ratner’s, a kosher dairy deli, La Caravelle, The Palm and Danny’s Hideaway among others. Meanwhile, Betty was at Weight Watchers and polishing off Sally’s ice cream sundaes.

And there were a few great parties too: Megan’s 40th birthday bash for Don, Trudy and Pete’s Cos Cob dinner party (the one Don tries to duck without success, but shows up with his memorable drink order “big and brown”) and a traditional Thanksgiving at the Francis manse. A number of recognizable food products from 1966-67 had cameo roles in Season 5, including Cool Whip, Heinz Baked Beans, Bugles, Sno-Balls and White Castle Hamburgers.

An * indicates the recipe is in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook


Gin Fizz
Shirley Temple
*Old Fashioned

Appetizers, Sandwiches and Side Dishes

Crab Rangoon
Brussel Sprouts
Tuna Fish Sandwich
Heinz Baked Beans
*Deviled Eggs
Bugles Corn Chips
Cheese Cubes

Main Dishes

Boeuf Bourguignon
Dover Sole Meuniere
Ratner’s Vegetable Cutlets with Gravy
Baked Ham
*Beef Wellington
Baked Chicken
White Castle Hamburgers
Howard Johnson’s Fried Clams

Marshmallow Fudge ice cream sundae topping
Minetta Tavern’s Zabaglione
Baked Alaska
Hemisphere Club Mile High Cakes
William Greenberg Brownies
Orange Sherbet
Cool Whip Dessert
Choward’s Violets

Weighing In: Crab Rangoon and Brussel Sprouts

So many calories to eat, so many to lose on last night’s Mad Men (“Dark Shadows”) from Crab Rangoon at Trader Vic’s to Betty’s Weight Watchers meetings where one of the weight loss strategies appears to be heavy smoking.

Poor Betty. Desperately trying to shed some pounds, Betty is seen at the opening weighing cheese cubes to go with her half grapefruit and single piece of plain (burnt) toast. Her Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook sits forlornly on the counter. “I can’t eat fish five nights a week,” explains Henry when Betty finds him frying a rib-eye in the pan just before midnight. In the Thanksgiving scene, she’s still fighting the good fight: her plate, with a spare portion of brussel sprouts (see recipe) looks like it belongs to an anorexic obsessed with portion control. And to think, just a year ago she was making sweet potatoes with marshmallow for the holiday dinner! Betty’s diet is as spare and empty as the rest of her life.

 Weighing In: Crab Rangoon and Brussel SproutsBetty tries to find some inspiration and consolation at Weight Watchers, founded  in 1963 by Jean Nidetch of New York City who combined a diet plan and group therapy in a new approach to weight loss. By 1967 there were 297 classes in New York City and her first Weight Watchers Cookbook was released. (Weight Watchers was later sold, ironically, to Heinz whose baked beans ad campaign has been such a tough nut for Sterling Cooper to crack.) Participants were given lists of acceptable and off-limit foods, a regular weigh-in, a lecture and group therapy of a sort, one that encouraged open discussion of their weight problem. According to Betty’s group leader, “you don’t stuff yourself to keep from telling your family your problems.”

Meanwhile, back at Sterling Cooper the focus seems to be on new clients in the food industry. Along with Heinz and Cool Whip they are now pitching for Pepsi Sno Ball and Monarch Wine, which is trying to extend beyond its Manischewitz brand of sweet, inexpensive Jewish holiday wine to a more diverse customer base. Or, as Roger so aptly put it, they’re trying to branch out from selling wine for Jews, to selling wine to normal people.

 Weighing In: Crab Rangoon and Brussel Sprouts

Trader Vic's

Roger woos the Rosenbergs from Monarch Wines with dinner at Trader Vic’s, one of the popular “tiki” restaurants of the era offering faux Polynesian cuisine amid bamboo, flaming torches and drinks served in grotesque goblets meant to invoke tribal totems and deities. Since Roger’s soon-to-be former wife Jane is Jewish, he persuades her to join them (better to make the Jewish connection), but at a price. Everyone, it seems is profiting from Roger’s desperation to stay relevant at Sterling Cooper: Jane’s price is a new apartment; Ginsberg and Peggy settle for cash to do Roger favors.

Trader Vic’s opened in the Savoy-Plaza hotel on the Southeast corner of Central Park, offering “exotic cuisine in a tropical setting,” as New York Times food critic Craig Claiborne described it in 1958. “It would be difficult to categorize Trader Vic’s Cuisine under single heading,” he wrote. “ It’s a combination of Cantonese, Indonesian and islander cooking, plus a few native American specialties to satisfy less adventurous palates.” Claiborne also mentioned the house specialty Roger suggested to Jane: Crab Rangoon, crabmeat deep fried in a crisp thin shell and served with a hot mustard sauce and a tomato barbeque sauce (see recipe).

Rumaki, an appetizer typically made with water chestnuts, chicken liver, bacon and soy sauce served in Season 1 by Betty at her Around the World dinner, was another dish popularized by the tiki restaurants. If you’re wondering why Chateaubriande was on the menu (Bernard, the Rosenberg’s con, suggests he and Jane split the dish), Claiborne noted that Trader Vic’s often went beyond Polynesian cuisine. “One is inclined to ask why Hungarian Goulash was featured on a recent luncheon menu,” he wrote.

As for the Sno Ball, it was a new, semi-frozen soft drink using products from Pepsi owned  Weighing In: Crab Rangoon and Brussel Sproutscompanies in 1967, liquid enough to be sipped through a straw. Don puts his sinfully delicious spin on the successful pitch – using a devil to appeal to kids’ sense of mischievousness. Personally, we preferred Snowballs of the Hostess variety: marshmallow and coconut topping over devils food cake. Which do you prefer: white or pink?





Trader Vic's Crab Rangoon

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 190-195 servings

 Weighing In: Crab Rangoon and Brussel Sprouts

Original polynesian hor d'oeuvre crab rangoon recipe -- crabmeat fried in a crisp thin shell -- from Trader Vic’s Pacific Island Cookbook by Vic Bergeron (Doubleday,1968).


  • ½ pound crab meat
  • ½ pound cream cheese
  • ½ teaspoon steak sauce , such as A-1
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Won ton squares
  • 1 egg, beaten


  1. Chop crab meat and blend with cream cheese, steak sauce and garlic powder.
  2. Put ½ teaspoon of in center. Fold square over cornerwise. Moisten edges slightly with beaten egg and twist. Fry in deep fat until delicately browned. Serve hot.
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Weight Watchers Brussel Sprouts

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 1/2 cup; 1 portion

 Weighing In: Crab Rangoon and Brussel Sprouts

Weight Watchers Brussel Sprouts (1/2 cup = 1 portion) from Weight Watchers Cookbook by Jean Nidetch (Hearthside, 1966). In Mad Men, Season 5, "Dark Shadows," Betty has a Weight Watcher Thanksgiving dinner, with her "limited vegtable" portion of brussel sprouts.


  • 1/2 cup brussel sprouts
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • Salt


  1. Soak brussel sprouts in cold water for 10 minutes. Drain.
  2. Place in saucepan with small amount of water with caraway seed, thyme, and salt to taste.
  3. Cook until tender but still green, approximately 15-20 minutes.
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Aloha and Hau’oli Lanui!

If you were a kid in the late 1950s or early 1960s, as we were, chances are you owned a Hula Hoop.hula Aloha and Hauoli Lanui! And chances are your parents, or someone they knew, owned a Don Ho album or had a muumuu dress in her closet. At some point your family probably tried Japanese food at a Benihana Steak House or faux-Polynesian cuisine at a Trader Vic’s where the cocktails were adorned with orange slices, cherries, pineapple slices and a little umbrella or swizzle stick vaguely shaped like some Pacific island totem. After dinner, maybe you went to the drive-in to see Elvis in Blue Hawaii or Girls! Girls! Girls! also set in Hawaii.

Hawaii gained statehood in 1959, and as statehood approached and for years thereafter, Americans were simply gaga for anything that smacked of these exotic Pacific islands half way between Japan and the mainland. “Backyard luaus, the traditional native feast, are likely to become as popular as the hula hoop last summer,” declared New York Times food writer Craig Claiborne in 1959. That same year the Associated Press reported that tourism to Hawaii was expected to increase from 100,000 to one million visitor a year.

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Victor Bergeron, a/k/a Trader Vic, at work in Oakland, California

Mad Men, with its meticulous attention to detail, captures this slice of American life, especially when it comes to food and drink. Remember Don Draper’s first date with Bethany Van Nuys in Season 4, Episode 5 (“The Chrysanthemum and the Sword”)? They’re seated at a teppanyaki table at a Benihana, which lacks the intimacy Bethany is seeking. But the Mai Tai she’s drinking looks delicious. The Mai Tai makes several appearances in Mad Men, a cocktail widely attributed to Victor Bergeron, the California-born restaurateur who founded the Trader Vic’s chain.

On New Year’s Eve 1964, Joan Holloway welcomes fiance Dr.Greg Miller home after a hard day at the hospital, places a lei around his neck, and leads him to a Hawaiian-style dinner she’s prepared (Season 4, Episode 3, “The Good News”). There’s a glazed ham decorated with pineapple and a mysterious blue liquid in a glass which we took to be a Blue Hawaii cocktail.

There’s also a nod to the 50th state in Season 2, Episode 11 (“The Jet Set” ) when Don Aloha and Hauoli Lanui! and Pete Campbell travel to Los Angeles for a meeting and Pete is seen poolside at The Beverly Hills Hotel sipping an orange-yellow cocktail. For The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook we asked the hotel to help us identify the concoction. They dug into the archives and determined it was a Royal Hawaiian, a cocktail popularized at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Waikiki.

If you want to host a Hawaiian-style luau to welcome back Mad Men this March, or a Hawaii-themed holiday party this winter, there are a host of recipes in The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook to choose from: Mai Tais, Blue Hawaiis, Royal Hawaiians, Rumaki, egg rolls Sterling Cooper-style, pineapple-glazed ham, and, to top if off, pineapple upside down cake. Even in New York in winter there are ways to bring the Hawaiian islands home. Hau’oli Lanui! (Happy Holidays!)