Mad Men returns for its sixth season Sunday night. And while creator Matthew Weiner is renowned for his hatred of spoilers, it's unlikely Don Draper will be flying to Seattle to pitch Boeing, or that Pete Campbell will make the prescient observation that people might like to carry their hangover-aiding coffee around in nifty portable cups with fake Italian names. But a girl can dream, right?
In said dream, the scene opens in Seattle with the obvious shots of the (relatively new) Space Needle and monorail. Don Draper and Roger Sterling emerge from the airport, looking fly in their suits and thirsty for something “big and brown.” Don’s words exactly. In season five, Don was a changed man, subdued and faithful to his new bride, but now he’s in a different time zone and ready to party with the perfect wingman—a silver fox with a gift for one-liners. Let’s follow them as they bar hop to some classic spots of the 60s and some newer, old school–inspired spots of today in true ad man style:
Business Lunch: The Metropolitan Grill
Don’t even think about ordering an ice tea at this meeting. It’s pitchers of bloody Marys to start. The perfect shot: the duo in one of these high-backed booths, ordering prime porterhouse medium rare, and flambé bananas Foster to finish. And closing, always closing. After selling Peter Canlis on opening a second location by the Space Needle (too bad he didn't meet with them back in the day), they move on to (an) afternoon (of) cocktails.
Happy Hour: The Gerald
Though happy hour pricing hadn't quite caught on yet in the Draper days, he's always up for a pre-dinner drink. And this midcentury-styled Ballard cocktail bar even has a drink named after him: The Draper point. It’s bourbon, black tea, and apricot liqueur. Don won’t want one—he’s modest—but Roger will order a round for the whole bar. If having him sitting at the bar drinking his namesake isn’t good advertising, I don’t know what is.
Appetizers: Ballard Annex Oyster House
Though the opium den from the Thaiku days might have been Don’s first pick for a secluded drink (or consorting with a raven-haired Nordstrom heir, if only they weren't all blonde dudes), the back-bar booth in this new East Coast-styled oyster house will do just fine. The funky wood-detailed wall treatment and '60s-style lamps add a period-correct backdrop. It’s a seafood feast: oysters Rockefeller, whole Maine lobster from the tank, and rounds of martinis. No one can rock that bib like the Draper does.
Main course: Canlis
They couldn’t possibly not hit Seattle’s most iconic fine dining restaurant. Now that Don and Roger are best buds with Mr. Canlis, it’s time for the duck (a newer classic from chef Jason Franey, but with a grandiose presentation these gents would appreciate) and a bottle of Chateau Margaux while taking in the amazing views.
It’s over to Pill Hill for tiramisu and entertainment in a room that looks much like it did in the Draper days, complete with red vinyl booths and dark wooden walls. Jazz plays as a breathy lounge singer serenades the patrons. Cigarette smoke creates a hazy light. Wait Don, you can’t smoke in here.
After dinner drinks: Sun Liquor
Perfect for a late-night rendezvous with dim lighting and way better versions of '60s-appropriate mai tais; there probably weren't too many places using fresh-squeezed juices back then. By now, Don’s moved on to the brown stuff and the Old Fashioned here could be one of the best in the city.
Though the truffle Old Fashioned might be a little too experimental for a man not exactly known for embracing the new, there’s a captain’s list over 70 pages long to satisfy any drinker. Draper might go for the 1936 Canadian club neat at $525 a pop. I’m sure he’d just pass the check right on over in Sterling’s direction.
...Don and Roger climb out of cab outside the Fairmont hotel...back then known simply as the Olympic. They stagger up to the golden doors and we fade to black. Season 6, Sunday, April 7th on AMC.