Cook-along-a Mad Men
Lovers of 1960s Americana can rejoice: Mad Men, the series set in a Madison Avenue advertising agency, is back for its final episodes, starting Thursday 9 April at 10pm on Sky Atlantic.
To celebrate, I decided a Mad Men-style cocktail or two was in order. And where better to find a recipe, I thought, than The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook. It has, among other things, recipes for Don Draper’s favourite, the old fashioned; a martini that Roger Sterling would approve of; and a brandy alexander as enjoyed by feminist icon Peggy Olson.
Looking at the book, though, I found the recipes a bit vague – what’s the best type of vermouth, for instance? And what’s 2½ ounces in English money?
There was only one place to go to find out: the American Bar at the Savoy hotel. A London legend, it was one of the first bars to introduce US style cocktails to Europe when it opened in 1893.
The Savoy was refurbed to the tune of £220 million five years ago, affable bar manager Declan McGurk told me as I settled into a bar stool. “But they boarded up everything from here back,” he added, indicating the bar itself, which is preserved in all its historic glory. So I was sitting where Sinatra sat, where Elizabeth Taylor held sway, and where, according to an excellent biography of Robert Mitchum I read, director John Huston did unspeakable things to his pet monkey.
A few hours later, after trying a cocktail or two, and discovering the wonders of Cocchi vermouths and aperitivos – not to mention what I’m now calling the ‘McGurk martini ratio’ of two parts gin to one part vermouth – I can reveal I have the recipes you need. (No, don’t thank me – it’s all in the call of duty).
So, from the Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook by way of the American Bar and my fiddling with the recipes…
Roger Sterling’s martini (serves 1)
(as dry and potent as Roger’s legendary one-liners)
25ml Cocchi Aperitivo Americano*
50ml Plymouth gin
Strip of lemon zest
1. Fill a martini glass with water and large ice cubes (enough to keep it cold while you mix the drink)
2. Pour the vermouth and gin into a mixing glass or shaker filled with ice and stir well
3. Pour the ice and water out of the martini glass and strain the drink into it. Finish with a twist of lemon zest
*Cocchi Aperitivo Americano is citrussy and herby, bittered with cinchona bark (the stuff used to make tonic water bitter). It’s regarded as the best dry vermouth out there by just about any barman you talk to. Buy it from thewhiskyexchange.com for £19.25.
Don Draper’s old fashioned (serves 1)
(an inscrutable drink that seems to be doing nothing, but suddenly you find yourself on your back)
1 orange slice
1 maraschino cherry
1 tsp sugar
Few drops angostura bitters
A splash of soda water to muddle ingredients
75 ml rye or bourbon whiskey
1. In a mixing glass or shaker, muddle the orange slice, cherry, sugar, bitters and a little soda water. Push around and break up the cherry and orange until their flavours are released.
2. Add a little more soda water so the cherry is wet and the sugar dissolves. Add the rye or bourbon and serve in a tumbler on the rocks (with ice).