“Wow,” I said aloud last night during a frighteningly good moment of the new Mad Men episode, ”My Old Kentucky Home." “Look at him go.” I was talking about Don Draper muddling bitters, waters, and sugar to make an Old Fashioned.

Of course, in the early 1960s most men of a certain social status knew how to properly prepare the classic cocktails, though Draper is of course impossibly smooth about it. Faced with a bourbonless bar, he makes two Old Fashioneds—one for himself, a second for a cocktail-seeking stranger who has wandered in from a neighboring wedding—using rye whiskey. When Draper first encounters the stranger, he mistakes him for the bartender. This, and the fact that both men are forced to drink rye instead of the more upper-class bourbon, ties back thematically to their conversation—they are both self-made men who’ve scurried over many rungs in the social ladder to find themselves in such a tony setting. Yet both admit to feeling apart from their better-bred contemporaries.

But the drink refers too to the fact that Don has an old fashioned response—disgust—to his host’s “foolish” demonstrations of love for his new wife, Draper’s erstwhile secretary. To Draper’s mind you sleep with secretaries, you don’t divorce your wife to marry them. The episode ends with him kissing his very pregnant wife in a grove of trees on the verdant country club lawn.

If you want to try an Old Fashioned with rye at the bar, you’ll be in good hands at Tini Bigs, Zig Zag, or Sambar. But if you’d like to learn to make one at home in time for next week’s episode, let Seattle’s own cocktail guru, the great Robert Hess, teach you the proper technique here.

Filed under
Share
Show Comments

Related Content