Vintage Americana: Mad Men Returns

On Monday night I had the good fortune of attending Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s special screening of the Mad Men Season 5 premiere at The Crosby Street Hotel. No disappointments here—the new episode had all the witty writing and incredible fashion viewers have come to expect (and that’s all I’ll say so as not to spoil it for anyone). Newsweek also dedicated its latest issue to the show, retrofitting its pages to match the look of the magazine in the 1960s. Even the ads look like something Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce might have dreamed up.

The issue and the episode inspired me to pull together a list of New York City spots to visit for a taste of the show’s retro glamour, where it would be easy to imagine bumping into Don Draper and company. Here’s where to go for…

…a three-martini lunch: Keen’s Steakhouse
Mad Men buffs will recognize this Fashion District stalwart from Season 3 episode “The Arrangements,” in which Don and Pete meet with Pete’s buddy “Ho-Ho” to discuss selling the sport Jai Alai to the U.S. The circa-1885 eatery and former “Pipe Club” (members included Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Albert Einstein, and J.P. Morgan) still offers plenty in the way of old-fashioned charm and traditional American eats like iceberg lettuce wedges with blue cheese dressing, surf and turf, creamed spinach, and their man-sized mutton chop. Fun fact: it’s home to the world’s largest collection of churchwarden pipes, displayed across the restaurant’s ceiling.

…sampling spirits to restock the office bar with: Brandy Library
You’ll find a menu of over 100 cocktails at this booze mecca in Tribeca, including classic drinks characters sip in the show, like a Sidecar, a Tom Collins, and an Old Fashioned. If you prefer your drinks neat and want an overview of  each type of spirit, check out the Library’s tasting menu, including flights of rum, cognac, tequila, and armagnac. Or, sign up for their Spirit School, a two-hour tasting where students also get a thorough history on varieties of rare bourbon and scotch.

…a cocktail and a cigar: The Carnegie Club
Smoking may be verboten in most of the city’s bars, but this civilized lounge located behind Carnegie Hall is an exception, with cigars on hand should patrons want a puff. The club is actually hosting a Mad Men viewing party when it premieres on March 25th, with gin-and-vermouth martinis at the ready. And, if the Rat Pack’s your thing, be sure to investigate the club’s “Saturdays with Sinatra” when Steve Maglio takes the stage to perform the crooner’s greatest hits.

…dinner before catching the train: Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant
Originally opened in 1913, this seafooder in the basement of Grand Central Station should be on every oyster fan’s bucket list, thanks to an epic menu of bivalves and its one-of-a-kind architecture. While it wasn’t actually mentioned by name, the restaurant seemed to be the inspiration for the spot Don and Roger spend several hours supping oysters and martinis in the Season 1 episode “Red in the Face”.

…an overnight in the city: The Roosevelt Hotel
Don Draper checked into this iconic circa-1924 Midtown property when he split from Betty, and he and Roger also frequent the hotel’s lobby bar. Out-of-towners visiting for a long weekend can take advantage of the hotel’s new Mad Men package through June, while locals can stop by the Madison Club Lounge this Sunday for their Season Five viewing party and toast the show’s return with Draper’s cocktail of choice, a Canadian Club.

Wondering what to wear? Check out Banana Republic’s Mad Men Collection for men and women, designed in collaboration with the show’s costume designer Janie Bryant. I think Don and Betty would approve.


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2 Responses to Vintage Americana: Mad Men Returns

  1. Sophie458 March 21, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    Sooo excited for the new season!

    • gloriousamericana March 21, 2012 at 7:27 pm #

      Me too!

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