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  1. Arts & Entertainment

'Mad Men' stirs up taste for mai tais, cocktail wieners

Published Apr. 3, 2012

Don Draper, Roger Sterling and the rest of the iconic, stylish gang are back on the airwaves — finally! And the return of Mad Men offers the perfect excuse to gather your friends for a retro cocktail party, Draper-style. So cue up the phonograph, slip on some 1960s duds and serve up a menu of perfectly delicious throwback fare — we're talking martinis, mai tais, deviled eggs, cocktail wienies and other guilty pleasures from a bygone era.

Of course, you don't need an AMC show to prompt such festivities. Mad Men makes a great party theme at any time of year. Take the Draperesque shindig Paula Hamilton went to in Pleasant Hill, Calif., a few months ago.

"It was so much fun," Hamilton says. "There were little wieners in crescent roll dough, shrimp cocktail, Jell-O — my husband brought a Champagne Gelee — and baked Alaska. And there was a cocktail-creating activity."

Any fan of the action at Sterling Cooper — and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce — knows it's a booze-friendly workplace. But while Draper and Co. tend to drink their booze straight or on the rocks at work, when the characters go out on the town, it's all about cocktails. They sip martinis, old fashioneds and, to honor Hawaii's 1959 entrance into the union, the tropical sipper invented by Vic Bergeron of Trader Vic's fame.

Mai tais have enjoyed decades of popularity — and it's no wonder. The rum-based drink offers a sweet, fruity escape for the taste buds. But Hawaiian — and Hawaiian-ish — fare was incredibly popular during the Mad Men era. Trader Vic's took those culinary ideas and fused them with a Chinese sensibility for dishes like Crab Rangoon.

Classic cocktails were popular, too, of course — including the martini.

Of course, man cannot live by booze alone. Even the Mad Men characters set down their highballs long enough to savor the occasional canape.

"A show like Mad Men is so stylistically perfect," says Judy Gelman, co-author of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook (Smart Pop Books, 264 pages, $16.95). "They've done a lot of research."

What began as curiosity and interest for Gelman, who has always been fascinated by the intersection of literature and food, quickly became a book project — and a collaboration with Peter Zheutlin.

They tallied every dish, every party spread and every Betty Draper refrigerator interior sighting. Then they began contacting New York restaurants in search of archival recipes, only to find that some places didn't know they were even in the show.

But chefs and mixologists got thoroughly into the spirit of the thing and began digging up old notes and cookbooks. The resulting book is a romp through the restaurants and bars of New York City, circa 1962, with recipes for oysters Rockefeller from Manhattan's Grand Central Oyster Bar, for example, and a Classic Algonquin Cocktail from, of course, the Algonquin Hotel's Blue Bar.

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