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Aug 30

Mad Men Monday: Lost Weekend

Well, that was an interesting episode. I think Don was drunk for at least 90% of it. I did mention he’s becoming an alcoholic, right? But before we get to that, let’s back up to the Clio Advertising Awards. In a town like our own, pretty much everyone is familiar with the Clios. Awards help the business, right?

I noticed one winner in particular. Actually, what I noticed was progressive drunkenness on the part of Roger and Don, but other than that, the Byrrh winner stood out for me. What in the world, I wondered, is Byrrh?

Byrrh Ad Winning a Clio

It’s not what I thought. I figured it was perhaps some early, non-alcoholic Beer. Nope. It’s an aperitif, still produced in France by Pernod. Byrrh is actually a wine-based aperitif, similar to Lillet, but blended with quinine. According to Pernod, “the basic grapes, mainly the Carignan and Grenache varieties from the hillsides of Roussillon, are transformed into mistelles (partly fermented grape juice), which are then blended with selected dry red Roussillon wines.” It’s the history of Byrrh that intrigues me though. Coincidentally, Byrrh was created in 1866 by Simon and Pallade Violet, who were drapers. Drapers, at the time, was a phrase used to describe men who sold cloth or clothing. It’s a great name for a guy who started out selling fur coats.

Which brings me to our resident drunks. I found it interesting that in their first business meeting, Don took Roger out drinking at 10 am. It all started right there. Of course, Roger got snowed by Don, drinking so much he doesn’t know (to this day) whether he actually hired the guy or not.

How to Drink Like a Mad Man

Let’s look at Don’s progressive drinking in this episode. He starts out early, offering a drink to Peggy. The aborted Life cereal meeting includes a few festive cocktails, then they drink a lot of both cocktails and wine at the Clios. After that much, I’d be ready to go home and relax, but Don goes and gives a presentation. No one disagrees? How can they not see this is a bad idea? Of course, celebratory drinks were poured at the Life meeting, followed by the Clio after-party. That, my friends, is a lot of drinking. And these guys weren’t drinking light beer, but were downing the cocktails.

Then there is Don’s lost weekend. It’s one thing to celebrate – another to somehow slip from Friday night to Sunday afternoon without a single memory of what happened. I believe that consuming alcohol to rid yourself of a hangover is Phase 4 of alcoholism. Seriously, hair of the dog, while a time-honored folk remedy, is also an incriminating habit. The fact that Don poured himself a glass of Canadian Club when he got out of the shower on Sunday after his lost weekend, well …

Sunday Morning Pick-Me-Up

Personally, I’ve never tried hair of the dog. If I’m hungover, which thankfully isn’t a common experience anymore, the absolute last thing I want is more alcohol. Drinking too much on one night will keep me off of alcohol for about a week’s time. Not Don Draper.

Below I’ve included a video from AMC featuring Matt Weiner and Jon Hamm discussing Don’s descent into alcoholism (beginning and end of the video). There’s a sponsor ad preceding the video.

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Posted by Michelle at 11:18 am in Mad Men Monday | Permalink | Comments ()
Aug 23

Mad Men Monday: Sake

There was so much to write about in this week’s episode. My first instinct was to actually write about Coca-Cola through the years. For some reason, they were drinking Coke and not alcohol at the partner’s lunch. I’ll hold on to that one though. You’ll probably see me write it at some point this season.

My next thought was aha! I’ll write about the history of Benihana, which I did. Then Julie posted her version of that post and I deleted my own (my apologies if you saw it then it disappeared). Next! I seriously thought about writing about Drinky Bird. As a kid, I never had a Drinky Bird, so I ordered one last night. I love how fascinated the copywriters were with this toy, and it may show up as a future post as well, as soon as I get a chance to play with one.

Drinky Bird!

That leaves me with sake, which I was actually avoiding. Funny, since sake is a rice wine, but I really don’t care for it. It’s not for lack of trying. In fact, last year, Kevin and I visted Osake, an artisan sake maker on Granville Island in Vancouver, CA.


Osake offered a several samples, plus a flight, for tasting. We started with the Ginjo Genshu. The use of Ginjo means that 40% of the rice was ground away and only the remaining center was used in the distilling of the sake. Genshu means the sake was undiluted and can pack a slight punch.

Osake on Granville Island, Vancouver

The Genshu was a filtered sake resulting in a clear drink that had a lot of plum sauce characteristics. This was awarded a spot in the top 100 wines of 2008 by the Vancouver Magazine International Wine Competition. Overall, Kevin liked the “well-rounded flavor and sweetness.” I tolerated this one and we actually bought a bottle to take home with us. At the end of the two-week trip, with a lot of purchases already made (and taking up suitcase space), this is a pretty big compliment. At $25 for a 375 mL bottle, this was expensive but worth the price and hassle of bringing it home with us.

Next in the flight was the Ginjo Nigori. Nigori implies cloudy due to no filtration once the sake is made. This has a chewier texture, as expected in a nigori sake, and a nice long bitter finish. In comparison to other nigori sake, Kevin thought this one had a touch more ripe melon flavors and less creaminess. Once again, he enjoyed the overall experience, while I was slightly less thrilled. At $25/ bottle, this is reasonable pricing for the small batch quailty sake. Both ginjos were aged for 1 year in bottle, while the junmai were aged 2 to 3 months.

We ended with a flight of the three entry level (junmai) sakes. For junmai, 30% of the rice is milled away and no alcohol is added in the creation process. We started this flight with Junmai Nama Genshu, which was a nice entry level sake. Coming in at $35 for a 750 mL bottle, it’s a nice value. There was a lot of papaya and graininess. Kevin thought the ginjo had a more vibrant plum flavor, but this junmai would have paired well with a lean steak or a rick meat like duck.

Junmai Flight

Second in the flight was Junmai Nama which seemed to have higher acid. The slight lime flavor and very little creaminess made me think grilled shrimp would be a very nice food pairing. In comparison to the others, this was probably our least favorite, but still ranks as a nice entry. At $27 for 750 mL, the quality/value ratio is there, but not at the same level as the other options.

Finally, we tried the Junmai Nama Nigori, which had a very nice melon flavor from start to finish. This one costs $29 for 750 mL and is again a nice value for sipping. This was the “ricey-est” of all the sakes due to the nigori style and was closest to what I have tried in the past.

I’m not sure if that helps clear up any mysteries of sake. If not, I believe we have several different types in the fridge. If you’re interested, let me know and we’ll write up some tasting notes.

As for the episode, I did a little research. Honda’s first entry into the U.S. automobile market was the ’69-’70 N600, which to me looks slightly like a less-cool Mini Cooper. It wasn’t exactly a hit. However, they did have a hit in 1973 with the new Honda Civic. So I guess they really were just flirting with other ad agencies, seeing what is out there.

I was also happy to see more of Betty. You know, up until this season, I really liked – and to a degree, felt sorry for – Betty. This season she’s straining my patience. I do, however, think Henry is very good for her, always full of common sense. Roger, on the other hand, reminded me how my grandparents came to a lot of their long-held (and politically incorrect) beliefs. It’s just a specific environment, fueled by a specific war. What are your thoughts on last night’s episode?

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Posted by Michelle at 12:32 pm in Mad Men Monday, Television | Permalink | Comments ()
Aug 16

Mad Men Monday: Cocktail Culture iPhone App

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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Posted by Michelle at 11:53 am in Cocktails, Entertainment, Games, Mad Men Monday, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (13)
Aug 09

Mad Men Monday: One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer

Don has always been a bourbon man and if you look closely in the background at Anna’s place, she has a bottle of Wild Turkey on her bar. Wild Turkey, the brand, was created in 1940 on a turkey hunt. The 80 proof version was introduced in 1974.

Don will drink anything in the whiskey spectrum, I swear. It doesn’t matter if it’s low-end whiskey or high-end scotch. I tried my best to get a good look at the bottle he drank with Lane. Across the Internets, speculation is that it’s a bottle of scotch, most likely 30-year old Macallan.

I don’t know the first thing about scotch, so I turned to my scotch-drinking husband. According to Kevin, Macallan is a Highland scotch, so there isn’t as much peat as a scotch from Islay. (Islay scotch makes my house smell like a swamp.) Macallan is a nice and smooth whiskey, still available today at a very high price point. Believe it or not, you can read more about scotch on our site: Jameson, Laphroaig, and Johnnie Walker.

Don also doesn’t discriminate against beer. Both in the comedy club and in the bar with Anna, beer was the libation of choice. I know Budweiser was the preferred beer on this show last season, but I’m not sure what they’re drinking this season – whatever is on draft, I suppose.

While Anheuser-Busch was still the number 1 brewer in the ’60s, there were a lot more regional beers. Locally, you could easily find things like Hudepohl, Schoenling, and Wiedemann. Schlitz was big in Indiana, National Bohemian in Baltimore, Narragansett in New England, and so on. Since then, it is more the craft beers that have become regional, although there are still a few (such as Yuengling and Fat Tire) that hold tight to their regions.

As for the show, well, I think they are seriously focusing on character development this season. It’s definitely darker and slower in season 4, but I’m okay with that. I would like to see a little more of what is happening with Betty, and a lot more of what is happening with Joan and Peggy. There were no creepy children in this episode. In fact, the thing I found the creepiest? As soon as they introduced Anna’s niece, I knew Don would hit on her.

What did you think of episode 3?

Top and bottom photos from the
AMC Mad Men Season 4 Photo Gallery

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Posted by Michelle at 1:49 pm in History, Mad Men Monday, Television | Permalink | Comments (2)
Aug 02

Mad Men Monday: Indulge Yourself

I had trouble coming up with a theme for this particular Mad Men Monday. Sure, there was a bar or two filled with alcohol and Roger had Smirnoff on his. (Did you catch the Smirnoff ad?) I even debated on offering up a recipe for eggnog, but I can’t really get into the holiday spirit just yet.

Really, what I saw going on in this episode was a series of overindulgences. Keeping in mind that I’m all for indulging yourself, but between the smoking and the drinking … wow. This episode took a couple of vices to a new level.

Always Choose the Jameson

Peggy herself summed up this episode when she was brainstorming copy for Pond’s, “Indulge yourself.”

Overindulging was everywhere. Even in the meeting with the good marketing doctor and the staff, Harry rather overindulged in the cookies. The counterbalance to the episode was the return of Freddy who is a bit of a caricature of himself, with all his comments to Peggy and the way he blatantly took over her desk. But he’s not drinking and is obviously very involved in AA.

Which brings us to Roger, doesn’t it? Roger took the Pond’s client out to lunch and apparently got the client hammered (as well as himself), not realizing the client was a recovering alcoholic. It makes you wonder about our cast a bit. Roger was hammered at lunch, and followed it up with drinking some Maalox. Hammered again at the holiday party and picked himself up the next morning with some hair-of-the-dog. Yep, the morning after the party, Roger was walking around with vodka on the rocks. Now, I suppose that could have been water, but what do you think? I like Peggy’s comment after Roger’s lunch: “Can you believe that’s his job?”

Maalox Afternoon

Then there is Don, who had to be helped into his apartment two nights in a row by two different lovely ladies. (I bet Phoebe plays a bigger role in his future, don’t you think?) But he was bordering on a bit pathetic in this episode.

Up we go!

Perhaps because of a YouTube video I came across this week (embedded below), I was also hyper-aware of the overindulging in cigarettes in this episode. Of course, Lucky Strike is 69% of their business (including Pond’s), but Lee showed up to the party drunk and proceeded to encourage the overindulgence, delivering everyone a giant box of Lucky Strikes for Christmas. The office party was literally a haze of cigarette smoke. And I have to worry that Don is eventually going to pass out cold with a cigarette in his hand and burn down the entire apartment complex.

In this episode the entire office overindulged, which is fine. Christmas parties tend to bring that out in people. 😉 We all know I’m fine  with overindulging a bit, and at least no one was driving in this episode. But wow … I really have to worry about some of the characters – Don, in particular, is obviously drinking himself into oblivion to forget. Roger is more subtle, sometimes, but still quite the drunk.

One final thought. Sally was a lot less creepy this episode, and a lot cuter. But goodness, Glenn the Uber-Creepy kid down the street is back and he’s taken his own brand of creepy to a whole new level. I get that they’re bonding over the divorce and things. I know it’s hard for them. But still … Glenn is going to undoubtedly end up in prison before he’s 18. *shudder*

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Posted by Michelle at 8:36 am in Mad Men Monday, Pop Culture, Television | Permalink | Comments (2)

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