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why they don’t drink wine on mad men

betty. grapefriend.

Very excited for the return of Mad Men on Sunday. But it’s clear that out of all the characters, Betty’s the only real grapefriend while Don and co. are always drinking whiskey and cocktails.

Yes, the 60’s were definitely cocktail culture and here’s why: Wine is brand spanking new in America, compared to the centuries they’ve been making it in the Old World. In the 60’s, Napa had just started growing good grapes and very few decent wineries existed. The wine available in the US was pretty unexciting – we’re talking jugs of Almaden Hearty Burgundy, Portugese rosés like Mateus and Lancer’s, and German whites like Blue Nun.

a draper would never serve almaden

At dinner parties, people did serve wine but not during cocktail hour. In season 2, Betty and Don have a dinner party where she serves international dishes and a Burgundy. Apparently, Americans got into international food after Julia Child published “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in 1961. Still, Don was probably just like, “Whatever, where’s my Old Fashioned?” (which, btw, is sugar, Angostura bitters, rye, and sometimes water/tonic or an orange slice).

But maybe this will be the season Betty gets more grapes to choose from! Last season took place in 1964, and 1965 was when Robert Mondavi left his family’s Charles Krug estate (major fam drama) to start his own place. It was the first new big winery to be established since Prohibition, and after that wineries in Napa got their groove on and really paved the way for everywhere else.

Let’s recap the few grapefriendy moments from the past four seasons:

sal likes a glass. he’s italian, no brainer.

roger came for dinner and drank a bottle of vodka, but betty went for the grape (looks like bordeaux)

Veuve at the office party. but that led to gnarly things.

betty ordered an asti spumante when they went to rome

So excited for Sunday’s premiere. I’ll be on watch each week to see if grapes get a bigger role. It’s all very exciting.

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11 thoughts on “why they don’t drink wine on mad men

  1. you don’t put ginger ale in an old fashioned. there are many different variations of an old fashioned, but ginger ale is never an ingredient.

    the most traditional old fashioned is sugar dissolved in angostura bitters, rye or blended whiskey (such as Canadian Club) and an ice cube or two. maybe a touch of water. possibly a lemon peel for a garnish. It’s an incredibly simple drink. Just adjust the portion of each ingredient to taste.

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