Friday, May 17, 2013

Mad Men Cocktail Hour - The Manhattan

Good Evening Kittens!

Sunday came and went and my new Mad Men partner in crime, Bridget, and I had to postpone our Mad Men Cocktail Hour due to Mother's Day festivities.  We issued a rain check for Tuesday.  So, Tuesday night at 9:00, just 20 minutes after I got a second degree burn (don't ask - I'm brilliant), there was a knock on my door.  I greeted Bridget with a 'Welcome to the Burn Unit' complete with a bag of frozen peas wrapped around my hand, but I wasted no time in making our featured cocktail of the week - the classic Manhattan.  A girl's gotta have priorities!

photo courtesy of Bridget

Like the Harpoon, this iconic cocktail was also included in the Mad Men Cocktail Guide.  This guide is just another reason why I love AMC - they help you out when you're watching Mad Men and suddenly find yourself thirsty.  It happens quite often!

While very popular in the 1960's, this cocktail has led a long and charmed life.  It was created in the latter half of the 1800's.  While there is debate as to the exact origin of the Manhattan, it is named for New York's Manhattan Club.  There is a FANTASTIC article about the Manhattan that sheds a little light on this mystery.  'The most common story of the origin of the Manhattan goes like this: In 1874, the Manhattan Club held a banquet for newly elected New York Governor Samuel Tildon, hosted by one Jennie Jerome, who is best known birth to Winston Churchill. At this banquet, a Club bartender came up with the Manhattan...The Manhattan Club stubbornly persisted in perpetuating this story for many years, but it has a major, major hole in it. The banquet took place at the same time that young Winston was making his entrance into the world, and Ms. Jerome was not in New York, but rather in Oxfordshire...(Tildon, a noted reformer, did go on to become the Al Gore of his day; he was the first presidential candidate to win the popular vote, but lose the Electoral College.)'  There's a little trivia for you!

'If the Martini is the glamorous, slightly dangerous doyenne of the cocktail kingdom, the Manhattan is its suave companion, the older man with impeccable taste, offering its arm and giving entry into the upper echelons and secret backrooms...One hundred and fifty or so years later, the Manhattan has held on to its looks, kept its sex appeal. It still has more game than cocktails half its age.'  Now if that's not an endorsement, I don't know what is.  You REALLY should check out this post about this debonair cocktail!  Bridget hit the nail on the head when she took one sip and said, "Yup!  This is a man's cocktail!"  While very smooth and not offensively strong, it definitely has a kick!  I only made one shaker of this cocktail; in many respects, this is far safer than those cocktails that sneakily lead you to believe they do not contain much alcohol - it is very easy to have a few of those before you realize their strength.  The Manhattan is a very honest drink in that way.  I actually found that I enjoyed this cocktail more when I topped off my glass with the remnants of the shaker after the ice had started melting.  A friend of mine took a Sommelier certification class that also covered spirits and the correct way to taste a spirit is by adding water.  This opens up the flavor profile and dilutes the alcohol (obviously) which can impact your taste buds.  I definitely noticed the smoothness and the sweetness of the bourbon more with it being slightly diluted. Curious as to what this is all about?  I found a very interesting New York Times article on the subject.

photo credit

Now that I've imparted some cocktail knowledge to you, let's get to this week's Mad Men episode - Episode 7 - 'Man with a Plan'.  The more I think about the Manhattan, the more I think that it would be more appropriate as Don Draper's signature drink than his beloved Old Fashioned.  Yes, the Old Fashioned is an obvious choice for a man who has not changed with the times over the course of the last six seasons, but the 'cool without trying too hard' quality of the Manhattan also lends itself to being Don Draper in a glass.  No matter Don's actions, there is a reason viewers can't seem to turn away.  Yes, he's a narcissistic, egotistical asshole at times, but he's also damaged, permanently wounded, and looking for the validation he never received as a child.  In many ways, he's a man child, though not in the sense that we think of them today.  Today we think of an unemployed man, coddled by his mother and living in her basement playing video games.  The problem is, Don has been able to get away with acting out against his past because, as CGC's Frank Gleason tells Ted, "He's very successful, you didn't think he was charmless, did you?"

This week's episode had Don lashing out against his lack of control with this new merger of SCPD and CGC.  The normally cool and collected King of his Domain was visibly rattled by now having the talents of his protege Peggy and Ted, the man who was previously his main competition, in the same office.  While his hands are tied at work and the only control he can exert there is to get Ted drunk (since no one has the tolerance that Don does), he can completely act out his frustrations only with his current mistress, Sylvia.  Since he feels like he has no control at work, he overcompensates for that in the bedroom.  They check into a hotel for what she assumes is a nooner and she finds herself held there by Don for two days.  While he does not physically hurt or dominate her, he commands her not to leave, and while every dominant needs a submissive, she stays.  Whether she stays and obeys his commands because she finds it exciting, or she's looking to give up control and escape her crumbling marriage, it doesn't really matter and Don certainly doesn't care because it allows him to have complete control over at least one aspect of his life.  "Why would you think you're going anywhere? You are for me. You exist in this room for my pleasure."  This is standard in BDSM relationships or interactions, though this is more of a D/s or Dominance and Submission situation and I automatically thought of the movie Secretary.  If you have not seen it, it's definitely worth a viewing - while the trailer makes it seem much more lighthearted than it truly is, it's dark, awkward, and absolutely fascinating.

Both Episode 7 and Secretary probably made most people uncomfortable, they give people a glimpse into a world that is usually hidden away, one where people can give and take control in an attempt to feel complete, if only for a little while.  So, the Manhattan was probably the perfect choice for this week's Mad Men episode since the focus was on Don and how angry and lost he is when he cannot control everything, while outwardly, he is a suave, successful man who can wear the shit out of a suit!

What did you think Kittens?  Were you fascinated by this week's episode, or did it make you want to have another Manhattan?

1 comment:

  1. Great post lady!

    You know, my mom was definitely one of those that felt uncomfortable watching that episode. She was like "what's that about?" and complained that the show is going from glamorous to just plain weird. You'd think she'd recall, having lived it, that there was a shift in society values from the 1950s "Happy Days" to the revolution that began in the mid/late 1960s. The shift of the show was very clear this season and while I miss tidbits of the glamor we see early in the show, I'm curious as to where they'll take our characters. One thing is certain - the plots never feel stale. They are always exploring new territory.