I know that everyone who reads this Blounge is excited about the new season of MAD MEN finally starting. Sunday, March 25th, 2012 marks the beginning of the 5th season of AMC’s hit show – and what better way to jump into the swing of things than with a retro-style cocktail party?
There are fun, quick, easy tricks to throwing together a last minute party. As long as you have friends that can make it, planning a Premier Party is a snap.
Invitations: This is an informal get-together, so a phone call (or that new-fangled email) is all you need. The show starts at 9pm, so start the party earlier. I’m starting mine at 7:30, so people will be able to have a light dinner before coming over, since I’ll only be serving hors d’oeuvres.
The Theme: Make sure everyone knows this is a MAD MEN theme party. They must dress to impress, as close to 50s-60s as possible. Even if you don’t have actual retro or vintage clothing, this is easy to pull off…men wear a jacket and (thin) tie, pocket square, fedora if you have one. The women wear cocktail dresses, heels, hair up; the fun is in trying to mimic the look. Some of your friends will have era-appropriate garb, and that’s even better. Just remember – no jeans, no sweats, no t-shirts, and hell-no clothes with designers’ names on them. How gauche. Anyone shows up like that, throw them the hell out.
Food: We’re going to keep it vintage style: Chips and dips, cheese cubes (I got Havarti, Gouda, Cheddar and Port Wine), crackers, Jello, pepperoni slices, some vegetables, black olives and mixed nuts. That’s plenty for a cocktail party like this, and it’s all easy to put together.
Booze: Spend a few bucks and buy a couple of bottles of booze that still have the same labels they did 50+ years ago. Here are some suggestions:
Johnny Walker Black Label
Appleton Estate Rum
Jose Cuervo Gold
Jack Daniels (Green or Black Label)
The Glenlivet Scotch
All of these bottles look authentically mid-century, and will look great on the bar.
Actual Cocktails: Sure, you can make any of the old-school recipes that were famous at the time. But if you want to keep your party simple, choose from this list of era-appropriate cocktails and offer them to your guests:
(A LITTLE MORE INVOLVED, and a lot more Tiki)
Dark n Stormy
Drink Recipes for all of these cocktails can be found on the Tiki Lounge Drinks Page, or at the AMC MAD MEN Cocktail Guide. Make sure you have lots of olives, cocktail onions, lemons, limes and other garnishes on hand.
Decor: If your home is furnished in mid-century modern decor, you won’t have to do a thing. If not, thing subterfuge. If you can keep your party to one or two main rooms, try to remove or hide any modern electronics, digital clocks, photos, paintings, etc. Spend a few clams and buy some 50s-era style lamps, clocks, album covers, anything to set the mood (You’d be surprised how many inexpensive, MCM style things you can get at places like Target and Ikea, in a pinch). Or go to the local party store and get some streamers, cut-outs and balloons to transform your party space. Colored bulbs – red, green, blue – can do wonders to make a space feel partyish in a 50s way. Print-outs of old ads, and of pix of the MAD MEN show can also spice things up. Serve your food in vintage (if you have it) or retro-style dishes, use umbrellas and swords in your drinks, stick frilly toothpicks in your cheeses and you’re on your way.
Music: Before the show starts, you’re going to want some era-correct music playing in the background. I would suggest the albums Getz/Gilberto, Music from Peter Gunn, Birth of The Cool, and anything from The Ultra Lounge series. There’s also a new collection of cool vintage tunes called “This is Vintage Now”, available for download.
Games: A good drinking game is to take a drink every time someone on the show takes a drink. Or every time Draper makes a face. Or both. Either way you’ll be plastered by the fourth commercial. Another game is to do a sort of MAD MEN themed Charades. Each person picks a character out of a hat, then mimics that character – but without speaking. First person to guess right gets to take the hot secretary into the other room for five minutes…
The Show: Don’t forget, the point of the party is to watch the show. Make sure everyone’s drinks are filled and the hors d’oeuvres are finished being served before 9pm, and also make sure there are enough seats for all your guests. Finally, dim the lights before starting the program. From what I hear, people always used to dim the lights before watching TV in the old days.
Have fun, party people!
-Tiki Chris P. reporting from the Party Room at Tiki Lounge Talk
For more tips, see my post on having an Atomic Cocktail Party.