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Oct 04

Mad Men Monday: The Stinger

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.

The Stinger
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.

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Posted by Michelle at 8:14 am in Cocktails, Mad Men Monday | Permalink | Comments (1)
Sep 27

Mad Men Monday: The Playboy Club

I was so excited last night when our ad men ended up at the Playboy Club. I’ve always had a strange fascination with the place.

Photo from AMCtv.com

The first Playboy Club opened in Chicago on February 29 (Leap Year), 1960 and was a success from the moment the doors were opened. The Playboy Club was a classy (no kidding) place that Newsweek eventually called “Disneyland for adults.” Early entertainers in that first Playboy Club included before-they-were-famous Aretha Franklin and Barbara Streisand.

Photo by O'Rourke at explayboybunnies.com, from Playboy June 1965

The Playboy Club eventually expanded to include more than 40 clubs and resorts. In Cincinnati, our own Playboy Club opened in September, 1964. It was located at 35 East 7th Street (current address of The Lodge Bar) and was in business for 19 years. Headliners in our own Club included Henny Youngman, Red Foxx, and Flip Wilson. You might have even heard Bootsy Collins performing in the lounge. From what I’ve read, the best years were between 1964 and 1976. In 1976, the Playboy Club concept moved from classy joint to more of a disco club and continued to change with the times. Our local club closed its doors in September, 1983.

I collect swizzle sticks and there are several Playboy sticks in my collection that I can only assume came from my parents. I called my Mom this morning and, to my surprise, my parents had a membership to the Cincinnati Playboy Club.  My Mom won the membership from a radio station contest around 1975. Mom says she always enjoyed the club because “it had a great atmosphere. You would take an elevator up, as it wasn’t on the ground floor, and then just step into the club.”  She remembers plush surroundings, with couch areas for conversation. Apparently my parents went to the club and restaurant quite often. I tried to find out what they used to drink. Mom thinks she drank something with vodka in it that tasted like lemonade.

Playboy Bunnies were by far the most famous part of the Clubs. Bunnies underwent strict training and weigh-ins. They also had to be able to identify 143 types of liquor and garnish over 20 cocktails. Bunnies were not allowed to date or mingle with the customers and, on the part of the customers, touching a Bunny was forbidden. A move I’ve always loved is the Bunny Dip. It’s a graceful way of bending slightly backwards to deliver and pickup drinks without bursting out of the Bunny Bustier. Something I always loved is that Playboy Bunnies were curvy girls, which was attractive back in the 60s. Famous bunnies include Deborah Harry (Blondie), Sherilyn Fenn, and Lauren Hutton.

In 2006, the Playboy Club reopened in (where else?) Las Vegas at The Palms. Some friends and I visited the Club in 2009 and I loved it. It’s classy and lush, with plenty of couches and a rich gold and red decor. One entire wall is digitized, displaying randomized images of Playboy magazine covers throughout the years. The Bunny costumes are still classy and the Bunnies still do the Bunny Dip.

Playboy Club, Las Vegas 2009

The Club is near the top of the Palms tower and overlooks all of Las Vegas. You can take a private escalator up to Moon, the nightclub with a retractable roof and always-open patio section. Personally, I preferred the Playboy club though – classy cocktails and an environment where I could chat with my friends. If you ever go, cover can run up to $40 on a weekend night. When we went (a Thursday, I believe), the guys each paid a $20 cover and I’m pretty sure the girls were all free.

Playboy Club, Las Vegas 2009

Perhaps the reason I love Mad Men is the same reason I’m fascinated with the Playboy Club. It’s a piece of history where women weren’t a size 2, bars were classy and encouraged cocktails and conversation, and the clothes were amazing. Could I live back then? No. I’m far too independent. I probably relate the most to Faye on Mad Men. But I love the chance to relax in the 60s now and then.

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Sep 21

Mad Men Monday … on Tuesday

I’m not a day late because I’m busy (although I am). I’m a day late because I am actually a little angry with my favorite show.

You see, they’re drinking a lot of Canadian Club (Don), Stoli (Roger), and Johnnie Walker (everyone else). But that’s it. They’ve stopped ordering the amazing classic cocktails from the first couple of seasons. Why? Apparently because of the advertising dollars. I even get countless emails from several different Canadian Club PR reps who are thrilled with my coverage. Great.

I’d given thought to covering HBO’s Boardwalk Empire as well, but I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. Despite that, a PR rep has already informed me that Canadian Club is everywhere. While actually historically accurate in both shows, I’ve still got the CC problem in Mad Men – I don’t need it twice. Actually, I’m fine with them using CC, but is there some sort of rule it can’t be blended in a cocktail?

Image from AMCTV.com

Despite my own issues with product placement, Sunday night’s episode was fantastic. You’ve got to give the writers credit, as they’re really nailing a lot of the issues women had to deal with in the mid-1960s. From Peggy and Joan both struggling to be taken seriously, to Joan’s Vietnam-induced loneliness and struggle to define herself, and Faye’s choice to have a brilliant career instead of marriage and children … all three women are impressive, yet surrounded by unwitting chauvinists.

I can’t believe they killed off Miss Blankenship. She had the best one-liners (and best delivery) in the show. I call it a “Joss Whedon writing trick,” to kill off a character that makes everyone smile.

So let’s raise a toast to the women of Mad Men. In fact, we’ll raise what used to be Don’s favorite drink, using the recipe from the Mad Men / AMC web page. It’s an Old-Fashioned, and I don’t care what whiskey you use.

  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters
  • ½ tsp sugar dissolved with water and bitters
  • 1½ oz of bourbon
  • 1 cherry
  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 lemon wedge

Fill glass with ice. Add cherry, orange slice and lemon wedge. Pour in bourbon. Serve in a rocks glass over ice.

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 9:24 am in Mad Men Monday | Permalink | Comments ()
Sep 13

Mad Men Monday: Mountain Dew-Da

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.

Strange Brew
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)

Morning Dew
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.

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Posted by Michelle at 10:43 am in Cocktails, Mad Men Monday, Television | Permalink | Comments ()
Sep 06

Mad Men Monday: Happy Birthday Peggy!

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.

Birthday Drinks

So happy birthday Peggy! Here’s the recipe for a Manhattan from a cocktail class I took from Josh Durr (although I suspect Peggy’s Manhattan was made with Canadian Club):

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.”

  • 1 1/2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth
  • Dashes of Angostura bitters (or home made)

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?

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Posted by Michelle at 1:26 pm in Cocktails, Mad Men Monday | Permalink | Comments ()

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