I have a good friend who absolutely loves the TV show Mad Men, and she has lent me the first season on dvd to try to pique my interest. I’ve watched several episodes, and while I liked it, it also tended to make me want to throw things at the television screen. The sexism, while clearly accurate to the period, is mind-boggling to this modern girl. I’ve since decided that it’s detrimental to my blood pressure to watch the show and have turned to calmer pursuits (ahem).
Having said that, it’s a very well-made show. Friends of mine who lived through the 1960s have told me that it is authentic in its portrayal of New York society during this time period, and the world of the “Mad Men”–New York advertising executives–is fascinating to watch. There’s something about the show that sucks you into that time and place, the atmosphere, and makes you feel a part of it. There’s an episode in the show in which the characters are at a restaurant, drinking martinis, eating oysters, and smoking. I swear just watching it made me feel drunk.
Which brings me to this book, The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin, which I noticed on NetGalley and felt compelled to check out. My overwhelming impression was that the writers were meticulous in their research of the time period, as all the recipes included are from authentic sources, either cookbooks or local restaurants that were around in 1960s New York and where the characters might have dined. Most of the food and drink included is featured in the show at some point, and the writers include detailed information about episodes and scenes where the characters eat and drink it.
Secondly, I thought that while very cool and a fun piece of TV memorabilia for a fan of the show, this isn’t a very practical cookbook to use on a regular basis (unless you generally cook like a 1960s housewife and consume large quantities of hard alcohol, that is). There are a lot of drinks, and a lot of food that I can’t imagine really wanting to eat, but it would be fun to use if you were planning a Mad Men viewing party.
And in the spirit of Mad Men, here’s a cocktail, on the house.
Classic Algonquin Cocktail
COURTESY OF RODNEY LANDERS, THE BLUE BAR, ALGONQUIN HOTEL, NEW YORK, NEW YORK
NOTE: Landers recommends using a top-shelf small-batch whiskey.
2 1⁄4 ounces rye whiskey (see note above)
3⁄4 ounce vermouth
3⁄4 ounce pineapple juice
Lemon twist, for garnish
Pour whiskey, vermouth, and pineapple juice in a cocktail shaker and shake.
Strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
YIELD: 1 DRINK
Thanks so much to NetGalley and BenBella Books, Inc. for providing me with a review copy of this book.
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