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Oct 20

Mad Men: Finale

I don’t have much to say from the perspective of alcohol. The standbys made their appearances, including Canadian Club and Stoli. At one point Don was drinking a beer that might have been a Michelob, but I couldn’t tell for sure. Thanks to product placement, writing about the drinks on Mad Men might just be a thing of the past.  Right now, I suspect it will be an as-needed post next season. As in, when they actually break out something other than Canadian Club and Stoli.

As for the show itself, the characters definitely went through a lot of changes this season, and at least an entire year passed. Are we in 1967 now, 1968?

Image from AMC's Mad Men Photo Gallery

How do you feel about Don’s proposal? I was so angry at him. This is a terrible move. He’ll never be able to tell Megan about Dick, and he’ll end up sleeping around all the time again, and probably have yet another kid. For me, Faye should have been his obvious choice. She’s a brilliant career woman and she understands him like no other. Megan? If she keeps working, she’ll only get her job because she’s now Megan Draper. California makes Don so vulnerable; New York does not.

My girl Peggy was thinking the exact same thing, I bet. What is it with these men and their secretaries? If I’m not mistaken, earlier this season Faye predicted he’d be married within a year.

Betty is finally selling the house, but she’s still weird about Glen. I don’t blame her for being freaked out by the kid, but I also think there might be a better way for her to handle it. She’s sad about Don’s remarriage, but not overly surprised it’s his secretary. I think she knows better than anyone what Megan can expect in her new marriage.

I know Don descended deep into depression this season, and appears to have risen again. But I don’t understand why he is trying to recreate what he had instead of starting anew.

What are your thoughts on this season?

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Posted by Michelle at 9:14 am in Mad Men Monday, Pop Culture, Television | 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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Aug 19

Maynard James Keenan’s Wine Club

There are folks I know who are positively obsessed with Maynard James Keenan. Me? I’m not all that familiar with this music, but I do appreciate his wine. I’ve also interviewed him and can tell you, he’s as passionate about the wine as he is about the music. Now the guy behind Arizona Stronghold, Caduceus Cellars, and Merkin Vineyard is announcing a wine club called the Velvet Slippers Club.

The Velvet Slippers Club will  feature three tiers of membership ranging from the vineyard’s more well known varietals to an elite package featuring small production runs, features quarterly shipments of three bottles and exclusive merchandise from the boutique winery.  Membership also includes exclusive invitations and complimentary tastings at Caduceus’ Jerome, Ariz. tasting room.

A one-time membership fee of $75 nets you a Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyard corkscrew as well as (hold on to your hats, girls) an autographed poster. The low-end tier averages $70-$150 per shipment; the middle tier runs $120-$200 per shipment; the high-end costs $200-$250 per shipment. Those prices do not include tax and shipping. You’ll receive four shipments each year, weather permitting arriving mid-month every February, May, September, and November. Each package will contain three bottles of the winemaker’s selections, winemaker’s notes, and their seasonal newsletter.

The Velvet Slippers Club is a critical step towards establishing and sustaining our small family owned and operated estate winery,” says Keenan. “Along with maintaining the integrity of our established wines, it will allow us to spend time with single barrel offerings of blends, block specific varietals, and happy accidents by providing an appreciative audience. We couldn’t have come this far without your support. This is our way of saying thank you.”

It’s expensive, but I’m considering signing up for the low or middle tier. We’ve purchased his wine before and it was excellent. The wine club can, indeed, ship to Ohio, so count your blessings. Other lucky states include Arizona, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri,Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Not on the list are Kentucky and Indiana. Time to find an Ohio shipping address, I guess. In my experience, shipping costs vary by state, and Ohio’s wine shipping costs can be obnoxious. Be prepared.

Additionally, the excellent documentary Blood Into Wine will be released on DVD on Sept 6, if you’re interested in seeing exactly how a winery comes together in Arizona.

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Posted by Michelle at 8:30 am in News, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (5)
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)
May 27

SATC2 Cocktails!

I admit that I enjoyed the Sex & the City tv series. In fact, it was the SATC girls who introduced me to what may be my favorite cocktail of all time: the Bellini.

The SATC movie (the first one) didn’t appeal to me. I was watching it while luckily flying first class to San Francisco and despite the free flowing wine and halfway decent food you get in first class, I still lost about 2 hours of my life to that movie. That said, the trailers alone for SATC2 look better than any of the first movie. My fingers are crossed.

Anyway, I sort of owe those lovely ladies for introducing me to the Bellini. I was inundated with press releases this week about the second movie release. Two of those press releases included some decent cocktail recipes, which I’ll share.

(Oh, and before you ladies ask – I’m a “Charlotte.” I love her clothes and her attitude.)

The first is a cocktail created by the mixologists at The London NYC – The Sexy London.

The Sexy London

2 oz. Green Cardamom Infused Vodka
1/2 oz. Triple Sec
1/2 oz. Rose Syrup
1/2 oz. Cranberry Juice
1/4 oz. Lime Juice
1 pinch of mint

Shake and strain into martini glass!

Next, of course, variations on the Cosmopolitan – often a favorite of the SATC girls.

The Cosmopolitan Dreams (created by Dale DeGroff)

3/4 ounce Citrus Vodka
3/4 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce Cranberry juice
1/4 ounce Fresh lime juice
2 1/2 ounces Piper Heidsieck Champagne

Assemble the vodka, Cointreau, and juices in a boston shaker with ice and shake well to chill.

Strain into a champagne glass and fill with champagne.  Garnish with a flamed orange peel.

The Original Cosmopolitan (created by Dale DeGroff)

1 1/2 oz vodka
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz cranberry juice
3/4 oz lime juice

Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish with a twist of orange

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Posted by Michelle at 9:33 am in Cocktails, Entertainment, Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (1)

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