cue music: "You Only Live Twice"
This is a chapter from my memoir: TALES OF INSOMNIA DESPAIR & THE PERFECT COCKTAIL, complete with drink recipe (altered since the original version. Hey, drink recipes change over time, as do our tastes.):
THE DON DRAPER
The character of Don Draper in Mad Men is a contradiction. On the surface, he represents the definitive 1960 Alpha Male. Strong, decisive, successful, studly. He dresses in the height of fashion: Brooks Brothers suits with skinny ties, an Old Fashioned in one hand, a lit cigarette in the other. And his women are ornaments, of course, but he also has a smidgen of self-awareness because of his past, being orphaned at a young age, and his shady time in Korea, where he became the new version of himself. But isn’t this symbolic of us all, when the shit happens, as it inevitably does, we are given the choice of how to respond. Do we knuckle under (which is surprisingly easy to do), or do we say, “Fuck it! If these are my cards then I’ll bluff your ass and see if you can stop me!” But Don Draper is also an anachronism, a dinosaur, a relic of the 1950s cocktail culture as he becomes surrounded by the Sixties, and a new generation that patently rejects his Lucky Strike and Old Fashioned in favor of the joint and tab of acid. And suddenly these suits that seemed so au courant, become closer to Eisenhower than to Woodstock, and he becomes a Square, an L7, an exemplar of the stodgy, entitled Establishment against which this new generation, the so-called hippies, are rebelling.
How would he know that fifty years later, these suits and ties would be worn again, that these drinks would be relished, that his attitude would be admired? A generation of Feminism and Women’s Lib and New Age drum circles and emasculated males has forced the pendulum to swing. And now men are trying to reclaim their masculinity, their manhood, and Feminism is in part to blame. In theory, it’s a great idea, equality between the sexes, but of course, even the greatest ideas become corrupted. For every positive of a social movement, there’s a negative, and often the negative is what’s ignored. Equality means equality, you can’t pick and choose. Here it is, over a decade into the new millennium, and men are supposed to be caring, attentive, sensitive, and egalitarian. Which are all good things. The problem is that they are also supposed to be strong, decisive, successful, studly, and initiate every first date and pick up the tab. You can’t have it both ways. Either you’re a Feminist or you’re not. I believe that most men would appreciate women taking a more active role in the dating process. The men realize the double standard, that the women want to be seen as modern, 21st Century women, while at the same time wanting the men to behave as if it’s 1960 as far as dating is concerned. But maybe that’s just the way it is in Virginia. After all, I still see Confederate flags and bumper stickers on cars here that say the South will rise again. Maybe I’m just stuck in a time warp.
But back to Don Draper. The thing I like about him, that I feel most people recognize and if not admire, then begrudgingly acknowledge, is that he is unequivocal. He doesn’t pussyfoot around or hem and haw. He is definitive and decisive, and this goes back to George Washington and the Founding Fathers—having the clarity to see what needs to be done, and then doing it. And one of the things I’ve noticed over the past two plus years regarding my own recovery is that when the path presents itself, I of course have no idea if it’s the one I should take. But as the saying goes, fortune favors the bold, and it’s better to take that leap into the unknown than to endlessly ruminate from within the comfortable confines of inaction.
THE DON DRAPER (a New Old Fashioned)
2½ parts* Canadian Club Blended Canadian Whisky
2 splashes of Cointreau**
3 dashes of Angostura bitters***
1 Tangerine**** slice
1 Maraschino Cherry*****
1 teaspoon Organic Cane Sugar (or a sugar cube)
Canada Dry Club Soda
*Add 3 parts Whisky for the "Harry Truman Variation". "Give 'em Hell Harry" preferred his Old Fashioned to be nice and strong. He did drop the Big One after all… Twice!
**Instead of 2 splashes of Cointreau, use 1 splash of Cointreau and one splash of Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
***You can substitute Hella Bitters Aromatic bitters.
****You can substitute a fresh Mandarin Orange slice (or a regular Orange slice if you're boring).
*****I use Tillen Farms Merry Maraschino Cherries. (There's no red dye, and they're vegan and gluten free.) You can substitute Tillen Farms Bada Bing Cherries for a darker color.
In the bottom of a 12 oz. tumbler, place the tangerine slice, one teaspoon of sugar, 3 dashes of Angostura bitters, a splash of Cointreau, and a splash of Club Soda and muddle it well. Then pour in the Whisky, and follow this with another splash of Cointreau. Stir, then add ice. Add an additional splash of Club Soda. Stir well. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.
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