While I was not part of the advertising community in the 60’s and 70’s my television media career nevertheless evolved from its fledgling years. I had the good fortune to work in some of the most prestigious worldwide ad agencies and it was everything you would expect – intense pressure, long hours, intricate negotiations, brainstorming, number crunching, troublesome clients, putting out fires. It also had many perks to make up for the above, such as attending mind-blowing experiences as The Olympics, Super Bowl, Award Ceremonies and the like. Although these were “business trips” at which clients had to be managed as well as careful scrutiny given to the negotiated marketing elements that were executed in the event, I have to admit they were also great, great fun. I don’t think there are many careers that can offer such perquisites. And, since a large part of the job was social – getting to know clients and network reps, learning about their needs, goals and then translating that into successful ad deals, dining together was a necessity, but it also involved another fab perk – eating at wonderful restaurants. Meals often included adult beverages, and some of the lunches meandered their way into early after lunch/pre-dinner cocktails. Many a long-lasting relationship was forged during these repasts.
In 2007 the cable network AMC started airing a show called “Mad Men” – following the creative adman Don Draper as he navigated this high pressure world. It perfectly captured the tone of the time with its attention to the politics, the misogyny, the fashion, the intrigue the highs and lows of this crazy culture. Six and one half years later it is now starting its last 7 episodes.
Let me say here that I have no affiliation with AMC or its advertising/marketing agencies (old habits die-hard) but I had to participate and now share in one of the most innovative promotional campaigns. For one week, 34 NYC restaurants are offering dining and cocktails for the price of $19.69, commemorating the year that the “Mad Men” series just left off. In a salute to the show and its character, elements of these special offerings have also been customized as you will see in a moment.
Having to be a part of this phenomena, I asked a cousin to join me at Harding’s, one of the participating restaurants with a perfect Mad Men setting, being a turn of the century tavern in the Flatiron District of NYC:
Martinis are not really my thing, but keeping with the theme, I chose a custom cocktail named “Joan’s Kiss” which honors the character Joan Hollaway, played with buxom relish by actress Christina Hendricks. Joan started as an office manager at agency Sterling Cooper, and worked her way up through internal affairs and such to become a principal owner of the company. This is her cocktail, a delicious citrusy blend of vodka, gin, applejack, lemon juice and grenadine. It had a nice kick:
Onto the menu – as mentioned a prix-fixed affair at $19.69 with some nostalgic offerings:
My selection: Iceberg Salad (anything with bacon you know is going to be delish) followed by the Beef Wellington:
My cousin, a bit of a foodie chose the Oysters Rockefeller and the beef selection:
Perfect portions, enough to titillate the taste buds without needing a crane to lift us after the meal. And they also left room for a desert indulgence, again something I do not usually do, which we shared. Here were the choices:
I thought the Griddle Cakes to be a rather bizarre offering for a desert, thinking they would better fit a breakfast menu. In any event we chose the Apple Crisp:
Our ad business meals were often followed by coffee with a shot of Anisette or Sambucca with its requisite three coffee beans. Keeping with this theme I ordered a cappuccino with a double-shot of coffee liquor. Please indulge the stock photos as I did not take my own pics of these:
A fine repast mixed with great memories about our past glory days. To end, I leave you with a song by one of my fav groups, Simon and Garfunkel – it is a wistful and somewhat melancholy, but apropos. Enjoy.