Sunday, March 18, 2012

Party Like a Mad Man!

"I don't believe in the Republican party or the Democratic party. I just believe in parties." - Samantha from Sex and the City

From one New York City-themed television show to another... I was recently invited to participate in a Virtual Mad Men Dinner Party. As you may or may not know, the Mad Men season 5 premiere airs in exactly 1 week on March 25th. In honor of this party-worthy occasion, the wonderful authors and publishers of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook are hosting a fabulous shindig in which fans and bloggers across the universe (or maybe just the world) make and share recipes from the book, which is based 100% on the food and drinks experienced in the past 4 seasons of the show.

'21' Club Bloody Marys

First of all, I'd like to point out how articulately researched this book is. The authors, Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin, have gone through each and every episode of the show, isolated food and drink references, referenced old cookbooks from the time period and/or contacted classic New York City bars and restaurants in order to obtain as closely accurate recipes for what the characters on the show would have been dining on or cooking. Each section of the cookbook (from Cocktails to Desserts and Sweets) is laid out in a consecutive episode order with a brief food-and-drink-centric synopsis, the historical background of the recipe in question, details about how that dish may have changed throughout the times, how they obtained the recipe, and finally the recipe in question. There's so much wonderful information on each and every page that it's difficult to NOT read the entire book as a book and not just a cookbook.

Even if you're not a fan of the show, you will appreciate this book if you're interested in the following: classic dishes, food trends, the 60's, New York City, New York City in the 60's, kitschy cooking, throwing parties, drinking booze, throwing parties with booze, throwing theme parties, eating, learning stuff you didn't already know, and cookbook collecting. Phew, that's a lot of reasons to like this book! Even the font, the book layout and style, the vintage shade of red used in the writing and adorable chapter icons, and black and white photography sets a tone that is completely in line with the historical setting of the show. That's called "attention to detail."

Now, for my contribution to this virtual dinner party, I'm sharing something that's perhaps more common in the morning, but in my opinion is just as awesome any time of day. I'm talking about Bloody Marys. They are easily some of my favorite cocktails and I can find an excuse to order them pretty much at every brunch outing. The book discusses the incredible volume of Bloody Marys found in various episodes of the show. I didn't need much convincing to make them myself and include them in the Virtual Mad Men Dinner Party (because it's brunch-time somewhere, right?).

The book actually contains two recipes for Bloody Marys, both from the famous 21 Club in New York City. The first is a "traditional" recipe, which is made in a cocktail shaker and served in a martini glass. I personally have never had a Bloody Mary served this way, but I thought it would be fun to try. The second version is more typical to what we would find today, and requires one to make a Bloody Mary mix and then assemble drinks in highball glasses filled with ice. It also contains optional horseradish which is a lovely element to add to Bloody Marys, especially if you like a little extra kick.

'21' Club Bloody Mary and '21' Traditional Bloody Mary (both rimmed in celery salt)

I actually really enjoyed both versions of the Bloody Mary. The "traditional" one had less ingredients and had a more classic flavor profile, while the more modern one had more layers of flavors and was better for a crowd. Just to add my own special touch, I decided to rim the glasses with celery salt. This is simply done by rubbing a lemon or lime wedge around the rim of an empty glass and then flipping it over and dunking it in a small plate of celery salt. The celery salt will stick and you'll not only have a more exciting presentation, but you'll also get a fun salty kick with every sip. Me likey!

'21' Traditional Bloody Mary
Makes 1 drink
(From The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook)

1 1/2 oz vodka
2 oz tomato juice, chilled
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Dash of celery salt
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Add ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake well and pour into a chilled cocktail glass.

'21' Club Bloody Mary
Makes 1 drink (although the Bloody Mary mix is enough for about 4 drinks)
(From The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook)

For the Bloody Mary mix:
24 oz tomato juice
1 1/4 oz Worcestershire sauce
4 to 5 drops Tabasco sauce
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 T. olive brine

For the drink:
2 oz vodka
Lime wedge
1/2 tsp. horseradish (optional)

Make Bloody Mary mix: Mix tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive brine in a large container. Taste and adjust as needed.

Make the drink: Pour vodka over rocks in a highball glass. Fill glass with Bloody Mary mix. Stir. Garnish with a lime wedge. Add horseradish, if desired.

*Disclaimer* I received no compensation to write this review other than a free copy of the book. My opinions are always my own.


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