Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mad Men Cocktail Hour - The Martini

Good Evening Lovelies!

Since my post for Mad Men's mid-season finale was incredibly late, I wanted to make sure that I took care of the one for the first episode back before the second one airs.  Admittedly, I'm cutting it close, but I did it!  Kudos, Melinda.

For my cocktail accompaniment to the premiere episode of the second half of this fine last season of Mad Men, I thought I would go with an undisputed classic.  The Martini.  I should mention that prior to that night, I had - GASP - never had a Martini.  'How is that possible?' you might be asking yourself.  Well, I don't really have an answer for you.  Since I started the Mad Men Cocktail Hour posts as a way to educate myself in the way of cocktails (something most wine aficionados probably aren't well versed in), I think the fact that it's JUST booze intimidated me a bit.  And really, I wasn't wrong in being a little wary of this one.  It might be vintage blasphemy, but while I am no longer scared of it, I am also not the Martini's biggest fan.

Since I aim to be not only fabulous and entertaining, but also educational, we shall commence with the history of the Martini.  While this isn't on the top of the list of drinks I'm apt to order the next time I go out, there are certainly mainly people who will.  And who have for a very long time.  There is no official, agreed-upon, origin story for this cocktail, but there are a few prevailing theories.

In the mid-1800's, a gold miner struck big and went into the town of Martinez, California to celebrate.  He went into a saloon and ordered Champagne, which they did not have, so the bartender concocted a drink from ingredients he had on hand - gin, vermouth, bitters, maraschino liqueur, and a slice of lemon.  And thus, the Martinez Special was born.  The miner later ordered it in San Francisco (where he had to explain how to make it) and it quickly gained popularity.  So much so, that it was published in The Bartender's Manual in 1880.  Other theories like the San Francisco and miner angles, but suggest that the drink was invented by a bartender for a miner who was on his way to the town of Martinez.  Still others believe it was invented in New York's Knickerbocker Hotel and then there are those that won't cite where it was invented, just that it was named after one of its main ingredients - Martini & Rossi Vermouth.  However it actually came to be, its popularity as one of the most classic cocktails is enduring.

So, Martini in hand, I settled down to watch as my beloved Mad Men came back for its final run - the aptly dubbed, "End of an Era."  So much happened in this episode and the way in which the episode opens is such a throw back to the Don from the first season that, while it was a little hard to watch Don walk a girl in a chinchilla coat on how to seduce him and then tell her "You're not supposed to talk", I thought it was perfect!

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Even though it is revealed that this is for an ad, from the get-go, we know that Don has reverted back to his original form.  Ladies' Man.  I do miss the old Don, but over the course of the last seven seasons, he has grown a lot.  Which leads me to believe that we will see a good deal of introspection from him as well.  This has always been a man who has been haunted by his past and I can only hope the final episodes give Don a little solace.

One of the greatest aspects of finding these characters in 1970 are the mustaches.  Specifically Roger's.  I found a great article, an ode if you will, to Roger's mustache!  I have nothing further...just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge it!

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While the fashion is definitely moving forward, Don is confronted by (and confronting) the women of his past.  While out with Roger and a few ladies, he is sharing a story about his mother and asks their waitress if he knows her.  She reminds Don of Rachel Katz (Menken).  She was by far, my favorite of Don's conquests - and I've always suspected she was his favorite as well.  There was something special about her, she got to him and got him on a level that I don't think any other woman has.  After Don dreams about her, he tries to set up a meeting - only to be told that she had died the week before.  This news hits Don hard, and I won't lie...I was devastated as well.  I couldn't help but see this as a real revelation for Don as well as a turning point for the trajectory of this final season.  Though if we can never see Rachel again, I'm glad she got to go out in a chinchilla coat.

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I could talk about Peggy and her Carpe Diem date or about how Ken gave the firm his eye and got fired and could end up besting everyone, but I really want to talk about what Joan and Peggy faced when trying to pitch Topaz Pantyhose as a department store product to a few INCREDIBLY chauvinistic McCann execs.  What first struck me was that it was somehow okay for these men to say things like, "They're afraid Leggs are going to spread all over the world? That wouldn't bother me at all." or asking Joan "What's so special about your panties?" and going on to say "Why aren't you in the brassiere business?  You should really be in the bra business."

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These two ladies stayed professional and kept trying to bring the conversation back to the business at hand, and I didn't think it was possible for me to be more upset about how the meeting went until Joan and Peggy got into the elevator.  Joan stated that she wanted to burn the place to the ground and I don't blame her.  But then Peggy actually made me more upset than the men in the meeting had!  She brushed it off by insinuating that Joan should be used to treatment like that by now and that she was essentially asking for it with the way that she dressed.  WHAT??  How can women turn on each other like that?  And for the exactly does Joan dress inappropriately?  Sure she's well endowed, but she can't help that and always dresses quite conservatively.  In that particular meeting, the only way she could have been dressed more conservatively is if she were wearing a turtleneck!  But Joan's response was FANTASTIC!  "So what you're saying is, I don't dress the way you do because I don't look like you. And that's very, very true."  Ouch!  But Peggy deserved it - honestly, I wouldn't have blamed Joan if she'd decked her.

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We ended the episode with many of our characters in flux, so this second episode should be VERY interesting.   Hope you are enjoying this 'End of an Era' as much as I am!  This last episode opened and closed with Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?" and since I thought it was so fitting, that I wanted to share it here.

Happy Viewing, Kittens!

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