Countdown to Mad Men

I’ve been obsessed with Mad Men since my mom and her sisters got in a big fight about why her sisters wouldn’t watch it in October of 2010. See, my mom was a working lady in that era much like Peggy, and she took offense at the fact that her sisters didn’t like the show. They got it sorted out eventually and then all of us sat down to watch an episode.

I came home and spent the next two weeks doing nothing but watching every Mad Men episode there was. Since then, Mad Men has caused us to get cable (grrr…Comcast) and many a discussion about Don, Peggy, Pete, Roger…

In fact, when our downstairs neighbors moved and we got a Pete in their place we made jokes about keeping him away from our non-existent nanny. Oh yeah, we’re hilarious.

Like so many of my fellow Mad Men fans, I’ve been riding the stages of grief over the fact that AMC has taken the better part of two years getting the new season going. What’s up with that??

Well, AMC FINALLY announced the date of the premiere of Season 5.  To commemorate this occasion (and anxiously wait for it), I — with the help of my most favorite graphic designer Lindsay and the web development skillz of my web shop, Artsy Geek — created Countdown to Mad Men, the second-to-second update about how long we have to wait for our next fix.

So, join me at and let’s wait with baited breath for the return of our favorite drunks, chauvinists and philanderers.  And if you like it, help me spread the word.  We all need something to look forward to. Continue Reading

Behind the Brand: Koala Care

One of my favorite pastimes is noticing brands and imagining the boardroom scene that led up to it.  In my mind it’s always a lot like the meetings in MadMen…the advertising guys and gals pitching ideas back and forth before presenting them to moody or otherwise delicate clients.

The branding of Koala Care–those shelves you find in bathrooms for changing babies–strikes me as half brilliant and half preposterous.  The alliteration is fantastic, and it makes an adorable if not necessarily accurate logo: Continue Reading

Don prefers brunettes

I’m glad Betty left Don.  Though if this post were about Betty, I would discuss how her very nature (read: attitude towards her kids) will keep her from being happy and loved. Already in the first episode of Season 4 we see Henry Francis slowly realizing how awful she is. I vaguely remember a dream from last night where Betty and I share a glass of wine and she shares with me her revelation: her kids are terrified of her and she hasn’t been a good mother. Perhaps I think too much about Madmen.  But that’s neither here nor there.

No, today I want to talk about how Don prefers brunettes.

Let’s take a look at his lovers:

Bohemian Chick


Not that Don really had feelings for this woman back in Season 1 when she was in the picture.  She was nothing more than a hobby–something to occupy his time and an escape from the pressures of home and work.

Wealthy Jewish Storeowner


Rachel Menken was a departure point for Don.  In Rachel he found an intellectual equal–someone he could confide in and trust.  The first point in his life–I’d wager–that he discovered that he could love and be loved.  The despair he felt when she discovered his desperation (due in part to his lot in life, and in a large part due to his inability to love and accept his wife and family) was profoundly real.

Comedian’s Wife

A redhead.

Following his disastrous affair with Rachel Menken, Don went back to flirting around with the women he met.  The Comedian’s Wife was just that: a woman he met who wanted him and who he could stomach sleeping with.

LA Floozy

Barely blond?  Brunette?

Regardless of hair color, Don found Joy’s free-wheeling sexuality disgusting the way Don was (and is) disgusted by Betty and her, well, Betty-ness.  His sordid experience with her drove him back to the original Mrs. Don Draper, in attempt to make peace with his past and himself.

School Teacher


Here Don found something. Found someone.  Remember when he left her in the car the night Betty confronted him about his past?  Remember when they spoke the next morning and she asked him if he was alright?  And he said, “Only you would ask me that.”  Only her.  I’m surprised and disappointed not to meet her again in the first episode of Season 4.

Instead we find Don flirting around again, and with a blond–bound and determined not to learn from his love patterns of the first three seasons as we have and destined to repeat his mistakes all over again.

Infatuation is not love, Don.  Infatuation is not love.  And infatuation seems to be what you find in blonds.  That’s why you never loved Betty.  The infatuation wore off, and you were left with a level of commitment and pressure that made you uncomfortable and unreliable.

The Santa Rosa Cocktail!

To celebrate the weekend and the return of Madmen this Sunday, I would like to share my boyfriend Will’s most recent cocktail creation: The Santa Rosa.

The back story:

We watched Madmen as a marathon last winter, having only discovered it when my mother introduced me to it on a family trip.  For a month, we did nothing else but watch Madmen.  We were intrigued by Don’s usual drink: the Old Fashioned, and also by Betty Draper’s Gimlet and the martinis that the Fat Cats on the show have during their decadent three-martini lunches.  Also, the casseroles, but we quickly discovered that casseroles contain a lot of cheese and let that phase go by without too much hubbub.  The cocktail obsession, however, stuck with us, and Will started rapidly acquiring the sundry liquors, elixers and various bitters needed to try anything and everything, with an emphasis on the cocktails from the days of yore.

Will quickly tired of other people’s recipes and started to experiment in mixology, sometimes with disastrous results.  The Santa Rosa is his first cocktail creation that’s ready for prime time (though he also has come up with his own interesting twists on some of the classics!).

Shake or stir the following and serve on ice in an old-fashioned glass.  The garnish of a sprig of cilantro adds a wonderful complexity and tingles your taste buds.

  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon
  • 1 1/2 oz fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1/8 oz Benedictine
  • 1/8 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/8 oz grenadine
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters if you have the large bottle, 2 dashes if dealing with the small bottle

The 1/8 oz is pretty hard to measure–most recipes would just call it “one dash” to avoid stressing you out. Don’t sweat it if your measure is a little off.

How Will created it:

The Santa Rosa began as a way to get rid of some quickly aging but still good grapefruit.  Bourbon was a natural choice for the liquor pairing because they both have such strong favors.  He considered adding simple syrup to sweeten it (grapefruit is very sour), but dismissed this option as obvious and boring.

Instead he added a little Benedictine–a very strong, complex liqueur. The drink tasted better, but still a little sour and astringent.  Will added Angostura bitters, comme il faut (because that’s what you do). He added grenadine, and the drink was no longer sour, and had a lovely red color.  But still there lingered the astringent bourbon finish!

He thought long and hard about what would make it smoother, and decided that sweet vermouth would be good for that.  He added a little bit, and liked the result… a lot!

Note:  In a pinch, Drambuie could be substituted for Benedictine.  They cost about the same (about $30 a bottle), but Benedictine is hard to find.
Also note:  Many of these ingredients–in fact all of these ingredients, will be consumed at a very slow pace.  You may balk at the initial investment, but we find we get a lot of joy in sharing our varied cocktail menu with guests (and our taste buds!) and you may too.