Classic cocktail recipes--drink like Mad Men do

Want to learn how to make classic cocktails like those that the philandering, cigarette smoking, deceptive characters on Mad Men swill? As the AMC series starts its fourth season Sunday, the period piece set in the '60s reflects a time when it was okay to have a bar in your office, have four-martini lunches, or have your kids fix you a cocktail. The only apparent rule: Don't pass out and wet your pants. To make sure, as you sit in front of the telly, that the cocktails you prepare are correctly mixed and measured, we offer three traditional drinks with their classic ingredients and proportions.

Perhaps the most controversial cocktail when discussing ingredients (don't even try to call any drink in a martini glass a martini) is the martini. Several purists we consulted seemed to agree that this recipe is the classic. The dash of orange bitters gives the cocktail a deeper scent and complexity.


2 1/2 oz. dry gin (Plymouth is preferred)
1/2 oz. of dry vermouth (Noilly Prat is preferred)*
dash of orange bitters (optional)
olives or lemon peel for a garnish

Chill your martini glasses. Fill a tall mixing glass with ice. Add gin, vermouth, and bitters. Stir with a tall spoon for 30 seconds. Strain into your glass and garnish.

*Here is where personal preferences comes in. Use more or less vermouth for a wetter or dryer martini. You can simply swirl your chilled glass with vermouth for an extra-dry martini. Some consider a dry martini to have no vermouth at all.

Why stir instead of shake? Shaking is considered the method to use for cocktails with several ingredients, while stirring is a gentler method for cocktails that are mostly spirits, said to be effective because it will not "bruise" the spirits.

Next, let's tackle the Manhattan. It is said that rye or Canadian Club whiskey were used in the early preparations of the cocktail.


2 oz. blended whiskey
1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
1 dash bitters

Swirl with ice to chill, pour into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

And finally, lets look at the Old-fashioned. We have seen Don Draper drink this cocktail in many episodes, and he even prepared one last season muddling the oranges in the bottom of the glass--a disputed practice, but one we also like.


1 sugar cube
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
2 orange slices
3 oz bourbon
maraschino cherry for garnish

Place the sugar cube at the bottom of an old-fashioned glass, splash it with the bitters, add one orange slice and muddle. Add ice, then the bourbon, stir well and garnish with the other orange slice and the cherry. Many modern variations of this recipe add a splash of club soda at the end.

We would love to hear your variations on these cocktails, or if you think a different recipe is the "classic." Post your ideas in the comments.


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