Don Draper Cocktails Reimagined in 2015

don draper cocktails

There’s only one thing the characters of Mad Men are better at than drinking: bartending. These guys (and gals) know how to mix a mean cocktail, and they do so at pretty much every time of the day. Although their drink of choice is usually a classic, we can take quite a few mixologist cues from the cast — in ways that are a little more 2015 than 1965.

Think of the standard, Draper-esque recipes as loose guidelines, if you will. Tampering with ingredients when you’re baking cookies may not be the best idea, but when you’re playing with booze? It’s a whole different ball game. Here are a few ideas to get your juices flowing:

Old fashioned

An old fashioned might be the most iconic drink of the show, as it’s Don’s favorite. (He even leapt over a hotel bar to make one himself, which is certainly a move we can all respect.) This drink is called an “old fashioned” for a reason: It’s a traditional, manly drink that is generally made the same way — with whiskey, bitters, sugar and fruit peel. Although the beauty of this beverage is in its simplicity, substitutions are certainly acceptable. You can switch out the whiskey for your booze of choice, like tequila (yes, really) or bourbon, and there are a million flavored syrups you can opt for instead of plain ol’ sugar.


There may be endless variations of the martini today, but things were a bit different back in the day. This drink is classic, cold and oh so refreshing: a little vodka, a little vermouth and your twist of choice. Many people even opt for their martinis with no vermouth at all — which is essentially a glass of cold vodka. But if James Bond, creator of the gin-and-vodka Vesper, could spice things up, so can you.

Let’s start with the vermouth: Many folks like their martinis dry, but sweet vermouth is an option, too. Or take Bianco vermouth, which has a hint of vanilla and a hint of citrus.

A few things to know: Ordering a martini with a twist gets you a lemon peel, while dirty martinis have olive juice. Heck, you could even order your martini pickleback-style with a little brine in the mix. There’s no wrong way to do this, so long as you keep your liquors clear and your garnishes punchy.

Whiskey sour

Any drink that incorporates the word “sour” these days doesn’t do this classic justice. A real whiskey sour is made with whiskey (naturally), lemon juice, a little sugar, an egg white and occasionally a splash of bitters. The best way to remix this drink? By switching up the kinds of bitters used or adding an extra liquor. Many people will add bourbon to make it heavy or mix in gin to keep it fresh. And hey, egg whites have protein. That’s reason enough to drink this one, right?