The Cocktails of Mad Men

Smith & Ratliff's Guide to Mad Men Cocktails

At long last, the season five premiere of Mad Men will air this weekend, and to help you celebrate we’ve made a few period-perfect cocktails, ideal for your viewing party or just a quiet day at the office.

After combing all four seasons, we picked the three cocktails that our favorite characters can be found enjoying regularly.

Cocktail from Mad Men

Roger Sterling prefers the clear spirits, and favors a three-martini diet when entertaining clients.

The martini has a startling number of variations, from those who like equal parts dry vermouth and gin to those who favor the Winston Churchill method of giving a bow in the direction of France. We made ours with 2 ounces of gin and 1/2 an ounce of dry vermouth.

A martini like Roger Sterling drinks in Mad Men

In a mixing glass filled with ice, gently stir the gin and vermouth until extremely cold. Pour into a cocktail glass and garnish with a Castelvetrano olive.

The vivid green hue adds a dramatic exclamation point to this icy statement—a statement Roger has surely used to seal a number of deals.

Brandy Alexander cocktail from Mad Men

Peggy Olson, junior copywriter, likes to order a Brandy Alexander to show off her sophisticated, feminine side to all the boys back in Brooklyn.

The creamy and sweet cocktail appeals to anyone who likes a drink that isn’t harsh or overwhelmed with alcohol.

Photo shows how to rim a cocktail glass

First, moisten the rim of a cocktail glass and glide the rim along a plate of ground nutmeg to coat the edges.

Combine 2 ounces brandy, a 1/2 ounce white crème de cacao, and a 1/2 ounce of heavy cream in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into the cocktail glass and grate nutmeg over top, to taste.

Old Fashioned cocktail like Don Draper drinks

Finally, Don Draper’s signature cocktail throughout the series has been the Old-Fashioned. This drink is what gets Don through a paperwork heavy day at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, to dinner with clients, and all the way back home. He’s even given Conrad Hilton himself a masterclass when no barman was available.

To start, place a sugar cube in an rocks glass. Wet it down with 2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and a splash of water or club soda. Muddle the sugar cube and rotate the glass so that the sugar grains and bitters line the bottom. Add a large ice cube and 2 ounces of rye whiskey. Garnish with a lemon twist and brandied cherry.

Old Fashioned cocktail with rye

Much like the martini, the Old-Fashioned comes with numerous variations. Orange slices, lemon slices, cherries, pineapples and other fruit have been found muddled in the bottom of this delicious since Prohibition, used to mask the taste of the alcohol. In our opinion, the drink is sweet enough with a sugar cube, so keep the fruit salad out and just stick with a lemon twist and a cherry.

After 17 long months of waiting, we’re ready for another season of shake-ups. (And a drink!) Any predictions you care to share?

- Ryan and Laura


  1. pam
    Mar 22, 2012 @ 10:14:50

    I’m a little behind. I guess about a month ago I started watching Mad Men on Netflixs. I’m almost done with season 2. I will say the show is very addictive.

    This is a perfect post for everyone catching up or sitting down to start the new season!


  2. Amy
    Mar 22, 2012 @ 20:33:36

    I LOVE Mad Men. It’s one of my favorite shows – and I, too, have recently trying to drink fancy cocktails like they do. I watched all of the older season on Netflix, and now can finally watch this new season live (how am I going to manage going weeks in between episodes now!?). I even try to recreate Don Draper’s famous old fashioned, myself – and I can’t get enough of it (I feel like his sexiness is contagious if you drink what he drinks)!

    mon amy


  3. melissa blake
    Mar 23, 2012 @ 12:55:27

    SO excited for the premiere!! :)


  4. Chester T Field
    Mar 23, 2012 @ 15:56:57

    Very nice! Although, Roger is usually seen drinking a Gibson, which has a tiny pickled onion instead of an olive.


    • Smith & Ratliff
      Mar 23, 2012 @ 19:47:43

      Yes, Roger does enjoy a Gibson in a few episodes, but has his fair share of Martinis as well. Seeing as how a Castelvetrano tastes much better than a cocktail onion, I went with this. -RS


  5. The slow pace
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 17:05:33

    So looking forward to Mad Men! Really nice post by the way!


  6. Jimmer
    Mar 24, 2012 @ 18:49:55

    Love those glasses for the Brandy Alexanders! I know this is a very long shot, but any idea where they can be found?

    I really need another set of drink glasses. Maybe a bigger house to store them all in too.


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  9. Jane
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 06:34:37

    You missed out Betty’s ‘gimlet’ – that is a challenging one.


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  11. Liana
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 15:25:34

    Thanks for those recipes! I have all the fixin’s for an old fashioned and when I made them recently they weren’t so great…now you’ve given me some new tips. I really want to make a good one:)


  12. Citizen
    Mar 28, 2012 @ 15:23:42

    If there is one thing a New Yorker will learn to make at home in their Chelsea apartment, it’s a proper drink. Wait–isn’t that the plot of Mad Men?


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