The final episode of “Mad Men”airs this Sunday, but we suspect it will leave plenty of unanswered questions to ponder over Old Fashioneds for years to come.
Series creator Matthew Weinerspent an afternoon doing just that with us at Metro last month when he served as guest editor. On hand to mix (m)ad man Don Draper’s drink of choice was John McCarthy, cocktail director at the Financial District’s Cedar Local bar.
“I don’t know if the show is responsible for this, but I love the cocktail culture,” said Weiner as he watched McCarthy mixing the first round of Old Fashioneds in Metro’s conference room. “But I am irritated by how long it takes to get a drink now.
“I’ve started even going in a more Don direction: Just give it to me on the rocks. ‘Cause I don’t have time for you to light that thing on fire!”
Weiner himself shares Draper’s preference for the Old Fashioned, but there’s more to the reason why it’s the character’s favorite cocktail.
“I felt that the martini was a cliche,” he explained, “and I liked what it said: I like that [Don] was old fashioned. And I like, too, that it has fruit in it; it’s the most manly womanly drink there is.”
Though Weiner enjoyed McCarthy’s version of the drink, he did note the absence of a mashed maraschino cherry.
“People may well have made Old Fashioneds the way Don Draper did in the show back in the ‘60s,” explained McCarthy, “but a classic Old Fashioned is the original drink called a ‘cocktail’ dating back to the late 1700s-early 1800s."
When 19th century patrons asked for a cocktail made “the old fashioned way,” they meant by mixing any spirit with a little bit of sweetener, bitters and a citrus peel, stirred and served over ice. The cherry is merely a flourish.
Also on hand for the special occasion was The Macallan Rare Cask, which unlike most whiskeys can be drunk neat even by non-alcoholics whose insides aren't made of ice to handle the burn. But generally, “you have to be a Canadian to do that,” Weiner joked.
Happy hour enjoyment aside, he says his next show’s vice will be more modern: marijuana. “Everyone in California smokes it."
By John McCarthy of Cedar Local
• 2 oz. The Black Grouse
• 0.25 oz. honey syrup
• 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters
• 2 dashes orange bitters
Directions:For honey syrup, combine equal parts boiling water and honey. Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass. Pour over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with lemon peels.