How to Throw an Authentic Mad Men-Era Cocktail Party – The Inside Skinny

Throw a authentic Mad Men era cocktail party

With all the hubbub surrounding the premiere of season 7 of AMC’s Mad Men, we thought it would be a good time to offer some suggestions for throwing an authentic 60s cocktail party. We’re going to concentrate on the drinks and food and we’ll let you make your own choice regarding the required 60s-style hanky-panky.

What follows is TheVodkaParty’s step-by-step guide to being the perfect Mad Men-era host or hostess. We draw heavily from “How to Give a Vodka Party,” which was distributed by Smirnoff at the height of the Mad Men age. It captures the zeitgeist of the time better than pretty much anything else we’ve seen.


Historical accuracy would require the booze to flow rather freely. We suggest a more measured, 21st Century approach to quantity, but you can certainly achieve the quality of the period.

Old Fashioned CocktailWe’ll start with suggesting the top-10 vodka drinks of the time, compliments of “How to Give a Vodka Party.” You can’t go wrong with any of these cocktails including the Vodka Martini, Bloody Mary, Vodka Collins, Vodka Gimlet, Vodka and Tonic or Vodka Highball.

But mad man does not live by vodka alone. Fans will tell you that the Old Fashioned is creative guru Don Draper’s favorite. Here’s a selection of whiskey drinks from “Fine Cocktails Made Easy” that includes a classic Old Fashioned (Don Draper’s favorite)

Hors d’ouevres

Mad Men Era hors d'ouevresYou will absolutely want to temp your guests’ taste buds with original recipes from the period. Here’s a savory selection of original Mad Men-era recipes. The best of the bunch is the Avocado Dip which is like a frothy guacamole. We made up a batch out of curiosity, and were very pleasantly surprised. And remember that in the early-60s, dips were something new, hip and exciting. If you want to achieve total period authenticity, you should probably serve with “original”-style Fritos (you know, the small narrow ones).  The official launch of Doritos, the first commercial mass-market tortilla chip, didn’t happen until 1966. Also of interest here are the Chafing Dish Meatballs, which include Grapenut Flakes, A-1 Steak Sauce and Hunts’ tomato sauce.

And if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, here are some more historically accurate recipes. I especially like the Conversation Piece which has two simple ingredients: A-1 sauce and cream cheese. Things start to get interesting when your guests start digging in with chips, the soft cheese and savory sauce are randomly mixed into a unique treat. Sort of like an edible Jackson Pollock on your serving table. Again, original Fritos are recommended. I’d also suggest the Pickle Roll-ups or the Merry-Go-Rounds which feature frankfurters, hard-boiled eggs and, of course, A-1 sauce. If you buy a bottle, you may as well use it. (see the full page here)


We recommend an “Odd Ball” (as in “Odd” and “Highball”) contest, where guests create their own cocktail recipes from a selection of ingredients. On second thought, this won’t end well, so just stick with inappropriate flirting and mildly suggestive small talk.

Party Time

What to wear? We’ll defer to this excellent guide to recreating period style from Style Girlfriend.

The rest is up to you. So raise an Old Fashioned and toast the return of Mad Men with an authentic 60s-style cocktail party. Just make sure to send us an invitation.

Looking for More ’60s Cocktail Fun?

1960s cocktail recipes from Playboy and Southern Comfort


BARMATEThe fulcrum from which the swinging 60s swung was The Playboy club. In that brief period between women stepping out from behind the apron to the birth of modern feminism, nothing else oozed the stuff of the liberated man more than The Playboy Club. The clubs were temples to the god of 60s chauvinism, adorned with the modern equivalents of Greek statuary; only these statuesque beauties were flesh and blood…and wore adorable ears over their perfect bouffant hairdos.

Check out this Barmate


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How to Throw an Authentic Mad Men-Era Cocktail Party – The Inside Skinny — 4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Classic 1960s Heinz Ads | | The Vodka Party - Cocktail Recipes, Party Recipes & More

  2. Who wouldn’t want to envision themselves dressed to the nines at a glamorous, themed cocktail party? I’m sure with Mad Men rising in popularity, a lot of people will their guests flocking to dress up and imitate the chic 60s fashion. Thanks for the recipe ideas – they’re simple yet authentic! If you want to add another cheeky drink to the menu, try out this aptly named, shirley temple gone mad drink recipe. It’s a gas!

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