Weekend Cooking: The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook

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


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.


Thanks so much to NetGalley and BenBella Books, Inc. for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs…

19 thoughts on “Weekend Cooking: The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook

  1. tinabakesbread

    I love that show…and I hate it, cause i know exactly what you mean. I too grew up in that era and it’s pretty much spot on. But I enjoy watching it and I also love the cocktail you posted here. Gotta check that book out!

  2. Jennifer

    I do cook like a 60’s housewife and I love hard alcohol! Ok, not really, but I do love the show. I can’t help but be amazed by how they smoke and drink EVERYWHERE! Airplanes, Doctor’s offices, hospitals…EVERYWHERE, lol.

  3. Uniflame

    I saw this one on NetGalley too, but it didn’t really meant anything to me. I only now learn of the show and what this cookbook is based on 🙂 Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. joyweesemoll

    I haven’t watched Mad Men yet, but think I might like it. I’ve collected 50s and 60s cookbooks at various times and it’s kind of amazing what sounded elegant at the time. Creamed spinach? Give me a good spinach salad any day.

  5. Laurie C (Bay State RA)

    I watched the whole first season, definitely, but stopped somewhere in either the second or third. Somehow I don’t mind it in books so much, but I need the main character in a TV show to be a good person at heart (it can be buried very deep, but that goodness has to be there) and I just didn’t like how Draper treated his wife or his co-workers. The show did get me started on a cocktail kick, though!

  6. Carole

    Thanks for linking this super pineapple post in to Food on Friday. I am now signed up to follow you. A follow back to Carole’s Chatter would be wonderful – or are you already following? Cheers

  7. jama

    Haven’t really seen this series — though I should, since I know well what it was like during the 60’s. Your reaction is interesting — I’m really curious about whether I’ll feel compelled to scream at the TV too :). Thanks for featuring the cookbook.

  8. Diane (@bookchickdi)

    I’m afraid I’m addicted to Mad Men. I think this would be a fun book to use to throw a Mad Men viewing dinner party. Jane Maas wrote a book called Mad Women about her days working in advertising during the 1950s & ’60s that is really terrific if you are interested in reading more about that scene.

  9. Cecelia

    I have recently given up all alcohol except wine and beer, but I have to say that I’m intrigued by the food in this, and I think it would be a great gift for my Mad Men-obsessed friends. Thanks for sharing!

  10. heather webb

    I’ll have to check out that cookbook! I love Mad Men. At first it really bothered me, but I think it’s important to have reminders of how far we’ve come as a society and as women. We don’t want to go back there! I love to see Joan’s passive way of getting men to do her bidding and Peggy’s more direct means. Fascinating stuff! Thanks for the recipe and the recommendation!

  11. Kelly

    What a cool idea for a cookbook! I should take a look at this one…my husband would be impressed if I went all Betty Draper on him and made something from it. Ha.


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