Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mad Men Cocktail Hour - The Harpoon

Good Evening Kittens!

For thirteen weeks out of the year, Sunday night is an institution.  Mad Men night is one of the highlights of my week and this season I've upped the ante!  I have a new downstairs neighbor, Bridget, who has become my Mad Men partner in crime and I couldn't be more excited.  She comes up every Sunday to watch the show we're both obsessed with and last week I decided that the show was a fantastic excuse to expand my cocktail repertoire...admittedly, being a cocktail novice, that's quite simple to do.  It was as if Mad Men knew that I'd appreciate a place to start with era-appropriate cocktails when they put together the Mad Men Cocktail Guide.

To start this new Sunday night tradition off, I decided on the Harpoon.  I'd never heard of this cocktail before and I realized that it was because we now call them Cosmopolitans.  From the little information that I could find on this cocktail, it was an early incarnation of both the Cape Codder (which is the original name of the Cape Cod - a piece of information an elderly bartender once bestowed upon me) and then later, the Cosmopolitan.  The Harpoon is a cocktail that was originally an Ocean Spray recipe on their bottles of juice...things were a little different (more fun) back in the late 50's when cocktail recipes were so readily available!  Here's a little cocktail history for you.

photo courtesy of Bridget
After a few Harpoons (I think I'm going to start referring to Cosmopolitans as Harpoons), which were incredibly yummy, in case you were wondering, Bridget told me that she had a little beef with the lack of credit I gave Betty in my last Mad Men post.  She made a good point about me not showing her any love and showing Joan and Peggy more love because I'm more like them and, not surprisingly,have more respect for them.  But Betty IS a dying breed of woman, one that died out in the 1960's; and while she faces extinction, her role (though not her specifically) does deserve more credit than I gave her.  This is something that we can, and will, discuss later, but right now I want to take our conversation back to my favorite woman on the show - Joan.

photo credit

In this week's episode, Episode 6 - 'Available for Immediate Release', we saw Joan step outside of herself and, for the first time, act in a very emotionally honest way in at work when she blows up at Don.  We've always seen Joan very put together and very pulled together.  She handles situations with grace and class and does not outwardly react to things that would rile most people up.  Since Joan landed the Jaguar account for SCDP by sleeping with the greasy Jaguar exec Herb, we've seen Don become very protective of her.  Throughout Season 6, we've seen Herb a few times and witnessed Don's disgust grow with each interaction - he simply can't seem to NOT hold the incident with Joan against him.  And finally in this episode, Don fires Jaguar.  He thinks Joan will feel "300 pounds lighter", but her reaction was, to me, unexpected: "Honestly Don, if I could deal with him, you could deal with him.  And what now?  I went through all of that for nothing?"  The second those words were out of her mouth, I completely understood.  Over the course of one dinner, Don rendered what Joan did unimportant and stripped her sacrifice of its value.  

photo credit

While I know that particular episode was very controversial and debated for weeks afterwards, I can't blame Joan for what she did.  The blame needs to be placed squarely on Herb for making that request instead of on Joan who did what she felt she had to in order to save SCDP.  She felt responsible for everyone she worked with and also wanted to ensure that she was able to take care of her child.  I know there are people who will argue her values and morals, but not unlike today, women of that era had to make tough decisions.  Joan definitely wrestled with the choice of whether or not she would go against what she knew was right in order to ensure that SCDP was successful and also to ensure her financial freedom and ability to fully take care of herself and her child as a single woman.  In the end, is it better to stay with, or go back to a man like her husband, or is it better to bend her morals for a night in order to save herself and the company from financial ruin?  It's a tough question that I hope all of us never have to make. By no means am I going to start using the phrase 'Saint Joan', but I think what she did (especially with the fact that she knew all the partners would know what choice she made) was incredibly brave.  

What are your thoughts?  Whether you agree with me about Joan or not, I hope you are enjoying the season so far.  And I hope you start including era-appropriate cocktails as part of your Sunday night viewing experience, they truly make things more festive!

Cheers to all my Mad Wo'Men out there!  Or as Lane would have said, 'Chin Chin'!!


  1. Glad to see you are getting good use of a proper cocktail shaker ;)

    Sunday's episode was fantastic. I really loved seeing Pete "get his" after the way he has been treating Trudy, who doesn't get enough credit BTW. I mean she's the perfect mix of domestic goddess - loving mother, a carefree hostess and all she asks for in return is the respect she deserves from her husband. Yet Pete falls short of that again and again.

    As for Joan, I saw her sacrifice not as a weakness in morals but as an act of empowerment. She used what she had in a difficult situation to gain power and money. Two things men do all the time, yet little bitches like Harry Crane march in demanding partnership, thinking sleeping around is all the Joan has done for SC & SCDP.

    I was so proud of her for what she said to Don. He is such a primadonna when it comes to his accounts. While Don is certainly brilliant at his job, he often fails to recognize that he has an equally brilliant team of people working for him - Joan, Peggy, heck- even Roger with his delivery of the Chevy pitch opportunity.

    I'm super excited to see where this company merger is going, particularly with Peggy. How will Don deal with her new assertiveness as the "Don" of her agency?

    1. The shaker worked much better than a pasta jar and a slotted spoon! And I thank you for that!

      And yes, I was cheering for Trudy - this season we have definitely seen her come into her own!! Though I will say, for a few minutes in the previous episode I thought maybe we would see a different side of Peter after he got into it with Harry over the assassination, but I quickly realized it was just more for me to hate about Harry instead of more to like about Peter.

      I saw Joan's actions in the same way you did, but while she acted very much like the men in this show, I had to address the morality part...she did struggle with that. With what was right and wrong and whether she was being exploited/exploiting herself.

      I personally feel that Don will have some significant problems with seeing how Peggy has applied everything he's taught her. There's a part of me that thinks he wants to bring her back in so that he can put her back into a supporting role and remain the only brilliant 'Draper' figure. He was pretty intimidated after listening to her in the Heinz meeting.

      PS - I would be so happy to see Harry go. If he could run away with the Hare Krishnas, that would be great!