Recipes and tips for an authentic 'Mad Men' cocktail party

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the AMC series, 'Mad Men.' The season six premiere airs on Sunday.
Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the AMC series, "Mad Men." The season six premiere airs on Sunday.

The AMC hit series "Mad Men" enters its sixth season on Sunday with a long anticipated two-hour episode.

This period drama, about the tempestuous world of advertising during the 1960s with its cutthroat competition, rampant drinking, smoking and womanizing, has moved up to 1967 and the network promises more chaos and "upheaval" than in previous seasons - and even bigger hair and shorter skirts.

With all its drama, nostalgia, delightful fashions and colorful cocktails, "Mad Men" lends itself perfectly to a season kick-off party. So what's on the menu?

I have an inside scoop on the true story behind the TV show's fictional plotline. My dad was a Manhattan Mad Man - or ad man as people in the biz were dubbed back then.

Like the Drapers, we lived in Westchester County and my father commuted into the city. And boy, did my parents throw some wild parties for my dad's clients and associates in our suburban enclave.

I remember sneaking out of bed as a kid and sitting at the top of the stairs in my pajamas watching the action in the living room below. The setting was ultra-sleek 1960s furnishings - armless sofas, Eames chairs, Danish Modern tables; my mother was an interior designer and Parson's graduate. She would dress more like Don Draper's second wife, Megan, in a chic slim black cocktail dress versus first wife Betty's more conservative dresses. My mother was a head turner with her bleached-blonde teased hair, coral red lips and matching nail polish.

The sounds of laughter and tinkling glasses from happy guests would drift up the stairs, along with their cigarette smoke. Glasses were refreshed with martinis, Johnny Walker Red on the rocks, gin and tonics and Harvey Wallbangers. My father's ad agency had the Galliano account, which was capitalizing on this new version of the screwdriver that substituted the sweet yellow liqueur for vodka.

My mother tested recipes for a new Galliano cookbook and we were subjected to chicken glazed with it, filet of sole sauced with it, chocolate mousse flavored with it - you name it. To this day I can't look at the stuff without turning green.

Hors d'oeuvres were plentiful, too, from pigs-in-blankets, mini egg rolls and Hawaiian meatballs to barbecued spareribs, deviled eggs, cheese balls, clam dip and crabmeat canapés - and anything you could possibly fit on a melba toast round.

Delectable cookies, pastries and luscious cakes sat on the dining room sideboard to enjoy after dinner with coffee or Sanka - and Sweet 'N Low for the new weight-conscious crowd.

Only china plates, crystal glasses and silverware would do at my parents' parties. Other than cocktail napkins, in those days using anything disposable at a cocktail party would have been considered gauche. Besides, my father's ad agency also had the Spode china account, which gave my parents a good excuse to advertise the newest patterns at their parties.

My mother got a lot of her party recipes from my grandmother, her mother-in-law, who was a terrific cook. I am the caretaker of the old gray metal box stuffed with recipes she cut out from women's magazines of the day - Good HouseKeeping, McCall's, Better Homes & Gardens - typed on index cards with her manual Smith Corona, or hand-written on the back of pink "While You Were Out" message slips.

So, here are some authentic tried-and-true recipes for a "Mad Man" season premiere party straight from my grandmother's recipe box. I've included a Harvey Wallbanger cocktail recipe, but if you don't have Galliano on hand, a gin and tonic or old-fashioned will do nicely as a featured drink.


1 (3-oz.) package cream cheese

1 (7-oz.) can minced clams, drained

Dash Worcestershire

1/8 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon onion salt

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Commercial toast rounds

Mix everything together but the toast rounds and refrigerate if you wish. Pile mixture on toast and place under broiler for 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

Better triple this recipe. Serves 10 to 12.


The ingredients are nearly always on hand, and it tastes far better than it sounds.

Put a few onion rings, or thinly sliced green onions, on rounds of Melba toast or any good cracker. Put a dab of mayonnaise (not salad dressing) on each, and slip them under the broiler until the mayonnaise sizzles.


1 ½ pounds ground beef

2/3 cup cracker crumbs

½ cup chopped onion

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/3 cup flour

3 tablespoons shortening

Sweet and Sour Sauce (recipe follows)

Combine first five ingredients; mix lightly but thoroughly. Shape meat mixture into 30 balls. Roll in flour. Brown meatballs in shortening. Drain excess fat. Meanwhile, prepare Sweet-Sour sauce. Pour over meatballs. Simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Serve with toothpicks.


1 can (13 ½ oz.) pineapple chunks

2 tablespoons cornstarch

½ cup vinegar

½ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup coarsely chopped green pepper

1 tablespoon chopped pimiento

Drain pineapple chunks; reserve pineapple. Measure syrup. Add water to make 1 cup liquid. Blend together pineapple liquid and cornstarch until smooth. Stir in next 4 ingredients. Cook until thickened and clear. Add pineapple, green pepper and pimento; mix well. Cover. Simmer over low heat, 15 min.


Yield: 1 drink

¾ oz. vodka

1 ½ oz. orange juice

¼ oz. Galliano

Orange slice for garnish

Maraschino cherry for garnish

Pour the vodka and orange juice into a collins glass with ice cubes.

Add the Galliano. Garnish with the orange slice and maraschino cherry.


1 18 ½ oz. package chocolate cake mix

1 pkg. (4-oz. serving size) Jell-O Chocolate Instant Pudding and Pie Filling

4 eggs

½ cup Bacardi dark rum (80 proof)

½ cup cold water

½ cup Wesson oil

½ cup slivered almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch layer cake pans. Combine all cake ingredients in large bowl. Blend well, then beat at medium mixer speed 2 minutes. Turn into prepared pans. Bake 30 minutes or until cake tests done. Do not underbake. Cool in pans 10 minutes.

Remove from pans, finish cooling on racks. Split layers in half horizontally. Stack. Spread 1 cup filling (recipe below) between each layer and over top of cake. Keep cake chilled. Serve cold.


1 ½ cups cold milk

¼ cup Bacardi dark rum (80 proof)

1 pkg. (4-oz. serving size) Jell-O Chocolate Instant Pudding and Pie Filling

1 envelope Dream Whip Whipped Topping Mix

Combine milk, rum, pudding mix and topping mix in deep narrow-bottom bowl. Blend well at high speed for 4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Makes 4 cups.

Optional: Garnish with chocolate curls.


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