Forget Old Fashioneds. What are the women of “Mad Men” drinking?


I friggin’ love Mad Men.  The last couple of seasons, I have been watching it with the same group of friends.  Mad Men with friends is the best way to watch Mad Men, let’s be honest. It’s a complex show.  Group wisdom helps access the richness of the show.  My Mad Men group is made up of grown-up theater geeks so, when we get together, we have the best time analyzing the characters, unraveling intricate plot connections between episodes, and decoding the hidden symbolism.

Plus, we drink a lot of bourbon.  Of course.  It’s physically impossible to watch Mad Men without some kind of whiskey-based cocktail in your hand.  I dare you to try it.  And, as we all know, drinking whiskey with friends is the best way to drink whiskey.  Stimulating intellectual conversation about the best tv show there has ever been + drinking bourbon on a Sunday night with friends = Mad Men nights are my very favorite…ever.

In my wildly (and arguably overly) enthusiastic anticipation of last night’s premiere of the show’s 7th and final season, I wanted the whiskey drinking part of our experience to really kick ass.  Don Draper’s iconic drink is the Old Fashioned, making it the standard drink of Mad Men parties all over America.  Although I love Don and his Old Fashioneds as much as the next fan, I wanted to bring something different to the table this time.  Like a bolt of lightning, it hit me.  It doesn’t have to be all about Don.  This season, it’s all about the women of Mad Men!  And, they should have their iconic drinks too!

So, here you have it.  My stab at what the women of Mad Men are drinking.  Keeping with tradition, these are all whiskey-based cocktails.  And they all capture the essence of these incredible (fictional) women:

1.  Peggy Olson – The Brooklyn

peggy brooklyn

Before making her big move to Manhattan in Season 3, Peggy was a Brooklyn girl, born and raised.  The Brooklyn cocktail was derived from the Manhattan cocktail but as a personality and originality all its own.  Like Peggy, it has worked to make it’s own way in the world and we are all rooting for it’s success.

2. Betty Draper Francis – The Amaretto Sour

betty amaretto sour

Kinda classy yet quite down home.  A bit high maintenance.  These descriptors fit both Betty and the Amaretto Sour cocktail.  Remember how Betty was a fashion model who could have toured the world but then she married Don who cheated and lied to her their entire marriage and had 3 kids with him that she clearly did not like very much?  Betty is always trying to find herself and her place in the world.  Should she be a sweet and doting housewife or an acerbic, cosmopolitan, modern woman?  Well, hell, why can’t she be it all?

3. Joan Holloway Harris – The Rob Roy

joan rob roy

Everybody loves Joan.  She is gorgeous and brilliant and dedicated.  She is everyone’s ideal wife, and girlfriend, and boss, and secretary.  All eyes are on her and she is always there for everyone.  And yet, the tragedy of Joan is that she is also, somehow, utterly invisible.  The Rob Roy cocktail is smoky and sophisticated.  Everyone has heard of it.  Everyone respects it. Yet it is not often found on modern cocktail menus.  Perhaps we take Joan and the Rob Roy for granted…but…not for long.

4. Sally Draper – The Redheaded Stepchild

sally redheaded stepchild

I couldn’t resist this one.  I saw this recipe for a “Red Headed Stepchild” (beer, whiskey, and grenadine) and immediately thought, “this should be called the ‘Sally Draper!'”  It’s surprisingly delicious (almost my favorite one of this list, to be honest).  We don’t know what’s up with Sally yet in this new season but, at the end of last season, Sally had been suspended from Miss Porter’s for “buying beer.”  Can’t you just see her and and her uppity prep school friends sitting around drinking these?  Not that I am condoning underage drinking but something has to help this poor girl.  Perhaps this season, she will put down the beer and find a good youth development program.

My friends and I drank “Sally Drapers” all night.

mad men premiere april 13

megan draperOops!  I woke up this morning and realized that I left Megan Draper off of the list.  I didn’t mean to.  I feel bad.  You have to help me.  What do you think Megan’s drink should be.

The cocktail has to contain Canadian whiskey and champagne. Ready?  Go!

About the Author


Social Entrepreneur. Writer/Blogger. Theater teaching artist. Amateur mixologist. Girl Advocate. Writer. Fost/adopt mama. Learner. Playful Idealist. Find me on Twitter @lynnjohnson.


Johnny 14 April 2014

Lynn, I loved everything about this post.

I think Megan’s cocktail would have to be…

The Ohio, and not just cause I’m partial to my home state.

3/4 oz rosso vermouth
3/4 oz Canadian whisky
1 dash triple sec
1 dash Angostura® bitters
2 oz Champagne

Stir all ingredients (except champagne) in a mixing glass filled with ice cubes. Strain into a champagne flute, fill with champagne, and serve.



    Lynn 15 April 2014

    This is great, Johnny. I can’t wait to try this cocktail!

Jamie Robinson 14 April 2014

Megan’s Drink:

1 white sugar cube
2 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
1/8 oz or 1 bar Spoon of Club Soda
1/8 oz or 1 bar spoon St Germain
2 oz Rye Whiskey
3 dash absinthe
Lemon twist

Method: In a ice filled rocks glass add your absinthe for soaking. In a mixing glass (boston glass/pint galss) add your white sugar cube. Soak the cube with peychaud bitters. Add your soda and st germain. Crush the cube with an old fashion spoon or a muddler and paste around the bottom of the glass three times. Add your Rye whiskey, add ice and with a bar spoon stir until you have your desired wash line. Shorten stirring time with bad wet ice and lengthen your stirring time with solid block ice. Dump the ice and absinthe from your rocks glass and with a julep strainer strain your cocktail in the rocks glass. Zest your lemon peel over and around your cocktail. Discard the lemon and enjoy.

Bryan Holdman 15 April 2014

I’m gonna pitch a champagne and Canadian whiskey cocktail, because, like Megan, a champagne cocktail is both simple and dramatic. Plus, it references her French Canadian heritage and her move out West in the final season. And I’d call it:


1 oz fine Canadian whiskey
1/2 oz dark amber maple syrup (preferably Quebecoise, natch)

*Stir gently to combine. Then top with:

4 oz French champagne (like really, don’t go for a California sparkling wine, a Spanish cava or Italian prosecco. She’s FRENCH Canadian!)

Finish with a float of Kalhua; both a nod to her brunette locks and to the Old Hollywood starlets who used to slip south of the border for an exciting weekend getaway — or divorce! — down Mexico way…

    Lynn 15 April 2014

    The ZOU BISOU BISOU a winner! It perfectly captures Megan. I’m gonna try it and post it soon!


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