Mad Men Party Menu + Accoutrement

I meant to post this a million years ago when Season 4 kicked off and Jack and I hosted our Season 4 premiere party. We’re a little Mad Men obsessed, and we only need the tiniest reason to throw a party. This article will cover tried-and-tested food and cocktails, some saucy invites, and the hair, makeup, and music you need to set the mood.

Invites

Menu

Jack and I don’t have the room to host a seated dinner for more than eight, so instead we host hors d’œuvre heavy cocktail parties. This makes it easy for guests to mingle and talk, and requires much less timing and orchestration from you as a hostess. Plus, it leaves you free to greet guests as they enter – there’s nothing worse than having guests walk into a room with no welcome or introduction!

We swear by Crate and Barrel’s Loop Plates, because they’re just the right size and easy to hold while standing around. At $1.95 a piece, they’re an easy investment. They also have some slightly more pricey cocktail-focused graphic plates that are adorable, but $3.95 a pop.

  • Miniature Beef Wellington – I love Food & Wine’s take on miniature beef wellingtons because they can be made up and frozen up to a week in advance, cutting your day-of prep time in half.
  • Wasabi deviled eggs – Martha Stewart’s wasabi deviled eggs can not be beaten.
  • Fruit kabobs – if you don’t feel up to all that slicing, you can usually buy tubs of pre-sliced fruit at your local grocer. Try kiwis, grapes, pineapple, mango, different types of melon, and strawberries. For a quick and simple yogurt dip, buy plain Greek yogurt (Greek is thicker than your standard American yogurt) and beat with a tablespoon or two of honey.
  • Broiled mushroom caps
  • Fondue – whether chocolate or Swiss, Epicurious has got you covered. Grab one of those little mini-crock pots if you don’t already have one; they’re indispensable and, frankly, less likely to set your table decorations on fire.
  • Roasted red potatoes and asparagus – my own concoction bastardized from suggestions here and there.
  1. Take red potatoes and cut them in half, then the halves into triangular thirds. (Some people suggest just quartering them, but I like mine to be smaller and easier to eat off a cocktail plate!) When just cooking for Jack and myself, four red potatoes will do it. When cooking for 12, I increase to ten red potatoes;  when cooking for 20 or more, I increase to fifteen red potatoes.
  2. Toss with a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil, thinly sliced garlic (or, in a pinch, garlic powder), fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, and sea salt.
  3. Tear off a baking-sheet-sized amount of aluminum foil and put potatoes on it. Pull up the sides of the foil and fold over to make a package. Don’t get overzealous with the folding because you’re just going to have to unfold it in 20 minutes to add asparagus.
  4. Place potatoes in oven to cook for 15 minutes.
  5. While potatoes are cooking, cut asparagus into 1 inch pieces. Five stalks of asparagus suits Jack and I just fine by ourselves, but when cooking for a crowd, I use the same formula as the potatoes: 12 or more people, 10 stalks; 20 or more people, 15 stalks.
  6. Toss asparagus with a tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and a pinch more fresh rosemary and thyme. There’s usually enough garlic and salt left in my bowl from tossing the potatoes that I don’t add additional.
  7. After the potatoes have been cooking for 15 minutes, remove the baking sheet with the foil packet. Open foil packet – potatoes should be sizzling but not browned.
  8. Add asparagus and reseal packet, increasing the oven temp to 450 and cooking for an additional 10 minutes.
  9. After 10 minutes, open the foil packet and continue cooking at 450 for another 5-10 minutes, or whenever the potatoes reach their desired amount of crispness/browning.
  10. Sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan if you’re feeling fancy.

Cocktails

So in lieu of buying a bar, Jack and I have always used a combination of a rolling bar cart (inherited from my mother; she used to set plants on it in the parlor) for our glasses and an old-fashioned secretary bookcase cabinet for our liquor. We picked it up at an antique store, and it works wonders because the front folds down to make a desk – perfect for mixing drinks.

  • Cuba Libre – serve with Coca-Cola out of a glass bottle, in a high Collins glass. Anything out of a Collins glass makes me purr like a kitten.
  • French 75 – alright alright, so this is much more of a 1920s American-ex-pat-in-Paris drink, but I just can’t resist them because I love gin and I love champagne. They’re easy and they’re sexy – what’s more MadMen than that?
  • Blackberry-infused gin and tonic – So the Kitchen Wench, per usual, is keeping it real.You can too, if you’re willing to plunk down a buck for mason jars at the local grocery (they’re in the “canning supplies” aisle) and dedicate a minute or two a day to shakin’ it for 2 weeks. (Pretend you’re Betty Draper on one of those old-fashioned vibrating machines where the belt goes across your fanny!)
  • Basil-infused vodka gimlet – Mmmm. Basil.

Hair & Makeup

  • Dying for Joan Holloway’s hair? Super Kiwi Mama has you covered in her video tutorial.
  • Favoring Betty’s hairstyle more? Queens of Vintage to the rescue.
  • Carson LaBelle, makeup artist, demonstrates an easy, flawless 1960s makeup style. She uses a liquid eyeliner pot with a separate brush, which terrifies me, but normal liquid eyeliner in a tube works just fine for me. Also, I never condone eyelash curlers on a daily basis, but for a special occasion, they’re fine.

Music

We use our record player (a first anniversary gift from Jack), but you can just as easily load up your iPod.

Cull your favorite 50s and 60s songs into a playlist of your own, or purchase a few of the “Mad Men Character Playlists” from iTunes (five-song packs at $3.99 a-piece). To give you an idea, Joan’s playlist includes:

  • I’m Gonna Stay by Mary Wells
  • Looking for a Man by Mable John
  • When I Get Through With You by Patsy Cline
  • I Wanna Be Loved by Dinah Washington
  • Someone to Watch Over Me by Ella Fitzgerald
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