On the penultimate episode of Mad Men this season, I was gifted with something special: a whiskey other than Canadian Club. It wasn’t completely historically accurate, but I can live with it.
When Don is at the apartment of heroin-addict Midge, her pathetic husband comes home from the store with whiskey. Not just any whiskey, either. I spent a long time paused, trying to verify that indeed, the bottle in his hands is Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
Before I talk about the history of Four Roses, I want to tell you the legend. Or rather, I’ll let the Four Roses legend sort of speak for itself:
It began when Paul Jones, Jr., the founder of Four Roses Bourbon, became smitten by the beauty of a Southern belle. It is said that he sent a proposal to her, and she replied that if her answer were “Yes,” she would wear a corsage of roses on her gown to the upcoming grand ball. Paul Jones waited for her answer excitedly on that night of the grand ball…when she arrived in her beautiful gown, she wore a corsage of four red roses. He later named his Bourbon “Four Roses” as a symbol of his devout passion for the lovely belle, a passion he thereafter transferred to making his beloved Four Roses Bourbon.
Now, I have no idea how much of that is marketing and how much of that is real. I don’t really care. From the moment I heard that little fairy tale a few years back, I’ve been rather enamored of this whiskey. We have several bottles of it on our home bar, from the Single Barrel to two different years of Marriage and some special yeast strains from The Party Source. It’s a favorite.
Four Roses was trademarked in 1884, although they were apparently making whiskey back in the 1860s. It survived Prohibition because it was granted a special dispensation to make whiskey for medicinal purposes. (Yeah, right.) In 1943, it was purchased by Seagrams, primarily for the Four Roses Brand although the company (at this point the Frankfort Distilling Company) had other labels as well. Then this happened:
Even though Four Roses was the top selling Bourbon in the U.S. in the 30s, 40s and 50s, Seagram made the decision to discontinue the sale of Kentucky Straight Bourbon here, and Four Roses was moved to the rapidly growing European and Asian markets where it quickly became the top selling Bourbon.
Technically, no one in Greenwich Village in the late 60s was going to walk to the corner market and pick up a bottle of Four Roses.
I don’t care. I love the bourbon and I was thrilled to see something other than Canadian Club.
As for the episode, well, I liked Don’s idea, even if I credit it to Peggy (why don’t we change our name?). He didn’t change their name, but he changed how they appear. Interestingly, none of the partners really get it, proving once again that those who are great at marketing are often poor at marketing themselves. This is a switch though – Don is building a brand for his company, yet at the beginning of the season, he was shying away from that sort of thing.
My big question? How does Don have $150,000 just sitting around (his share plus Pete’s share)? That’s a lot of money now; it was even more money back then. Pete’s dilemma, trying to come up with $50K, was much more realistic than Don simply having it in triplicate.
What did you think of the penultimate episode?
We’re heading into the home stretch, with the last few episodes of this season’s Mad Men airing this month. Big things happened in last night’s episode, but folks, they gave me nothing to write about!
Let’s see, Peggy’s dating a guy who seems to have adjusted to her career woman mentality (fingers crossed). Faye, who is becoming one of my favorite women on the show, compromised her ethics for a man who has no issues sleeping with his secretaries. And Roger, well, Roger is in one heck of a depressive downward spiral. My fingers are crossed that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce still has Sterling attached to it next season.
But drinks? Nothing got more in-depth than Canadian Club or Stoli … they didn’t even put it on the rocks. Since that leaves me with pretty much nothing, I’m going to pull out a previously posted cocktail in honor of Roger. Back in the beginning, Don’s drink of choice was an Old-Fashioned, but Roger’s was actually a Stinger. So, here’s the recipe from a pocket-sized 1946 book that belonged to my grandpa, called The Bartender’s Friend.
1/3 oz white creme de menthe
1/3 oz brandy
Shake with ice and strain into 3 oz cocktail glass.
Make sure you get white creme de menthe. From what I’ve read, green creme de menthe can change the entire flavor.
You’ll also see the Stinger referenced in the 1960 Billy Wilder film, The Apartment. Since we recently lost Billy Wilder, let’s raise a glass to him as well.
In this week’s episode, we saw Don finally start to reacquire his brain. He’s been lost, but he seems to be working his way out of the maze. He’s been drinking too much and realizes it, now often turning to coffee instead. Of course, he hasn’t stopped drinking, but he’s making an effort to cut back. So he’s making smarter choices and, by the end of the episode, dating smarter women as well.
Peggy has her own issues at the office, but I do like the homework she assigned the guys for their Mountain Dew client: three cocktails with at least three ingredients.
It never occurred to me to make a cocktail of any sort with Mountain Dew. It was my beverage of choice in college, which was before the days of Red Bull and other energy drinks. After all, Mountain Dew has 54 mg of caffeine per 12 fl oz. I can’t drink Mountain Dew now for the same reason I could back then – too much caffeine.
Because Peggy assigned homework, I went out and hunted down three drink recipes with at least three ingredients each, one of which is Mountain Dew.
I picked this one because it takes the episode drink a step further. Peggy said that cocktails require three ingredients (done!) and that just Mountain Dew and vodka mixed was for emergencies.
1 oz Mountain Dew
1 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Vodka
Mix with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Magic Mountain Dew
1-1/2 oz Absolut Citron Vodka
1-1/2 oz triple sec
3 oz Mountain Dew
Pour the Absolut Citron vodka and triple sec into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Shake well, and strain into a highball glass filled with ice cubes. Top with mountain dew, stir briefly and serve. (From DrinksMixer.com)
This is actually a punch and not a cocktail, but you get the idea.
8 L Mountain Dew
64 oz Orange Juice
1 bottle of Southern Comfort
Pour everything into a punch bowl and stir. Cherries and grenadine may be added (optional) and Diet Dew can also be substituted for the real thing.
Poor Peggy. Yes, last night’s episode cemented Don and Peggy’s friendship, but the poor girl. On her 26th birthday, she’s stuck taking care of both Duck and Don, two drunk, lost, middle-aged men. I do like that she asked Don, “How long are you going to go on like this?” At least someone is honest with him.
I’ve always liked their friendship and always imagined that Don sees himself in Peggy. They’ve always turned to each other for help out of predicaments, whether its getting Don out of jail or visiting Peggy in the hospital.
Peggy didn’t have much of a birthday celebration, but at least Don took her out for a drink. I’m pretty sure she had a Manhattan. Considering that the guys on this show have pretty much devolved into drinking bourbon/whiskey/vodka on the rocks, no mixing, I saw her Manhattan as a ray of light.
To get a little more detailed, I refer you to my original post on the Manhattan, as made by Josh Durr. Because of that class, I’m now very specific with my Manhattan order: “Four Roses or Woodford Manhattan, up, and stirred please.”
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Sounds easy, right? Josh commented that you should always use high-quality bourbon, vermouth, and bitters. He goes so far as to make his own tinctures, including bitters, but we aren’t all so dedicated. An interesting tip is that you can replace the vermouth with Elderflower liqueur for a twist on the classic Manhattan.
When you stir the Manhattan, consistently and quietly stir to chill down the drink. Josh recommended making the drink in a pint glass and pouring it out through a double-strainer.
What did you think of last night’s character study of Peggy and Don?
The folks at Mad Men are making it hard for me to write this weekly column. I blame the marketing folks who have turned Don from a bourbon and rye drinker into a Canadian Club drinker this season. It does seem to be the drink of choice in his office.
I do realize that Pete ordered a Dewar’s on the rocks, but do you really want me to struggle through scotch again? Instead, I noticed an ad go by for the Mad Men Cocktail Couture iPhone app. Well, I don’t have an iPhone, but I have an iPad, so I downloaded it and started to play.
The app is restricted by age, so keep that in mind. Can’t have the kiddies downloading the cocktail guide, you know. It is a cocktail guide, but it’s also a game.
You get one “drink” for free – Betty’s vodka gimlet. The point of the game is to mix the drinks, including shaking your iDevice and pouring, using the correct amount of each ingredients. The novice level pretty much tells you what goes into the drink and then you just need to remember. The expert level expects you to know. (So, Molly and Josh, you guys better rock at Expert level of this game.)
I like that the game tells you where or who to associate the drink with in the show. For instance, Betty has had a vodka gimlet when out with Don and when she went to pick up a guy in a bar.
In order to score points you have to use the accelerometer in the phone to pour the exact amount of vodka, which is fun. If a shaker is required, you have to shake the phone, and so on.
At the end of it all, assuming you have made a successful cocktail, you can tip your iDevice and “drink” your creation.
The game really is fun and it does include recipes, which could be useful on the spot, but off the top you can only access the vodka gimlet. To view and play the 20 other cocktails (including a Manhattan, Tom Collins, and Old Fashioned), you need to pay $1.99. I have mixed emotions about this. In essence, you’re paying AMC and iTunes $1.99 to be marketed to. On the other hand, if Don Draper were working for Ogilvie or BBDO in 2010, he’d probably think that was a great idea. It does sort of work with the show.
As far as the show last night, I’m rooting for Peggy. I rather like that she’s stumbling into 60s era “fun” New York and is seeing a little more of what’s out there beyond a husband, kids, and house in the suburbs. Allison? Well, she should have known better than to even assume there was a chance with Don. Let’s just cross our fingers that she isn’t pregnant. Why can’t all of the office girls be as in control of themselves as Joan? Finally, I sort of miss Betty. There’s a certain brand of evil that she has mastered and I miss seeing it. Based on next week’s show, she may be back in the picture a bit. What did you think of last night’s episode?
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