“Mad Men” Caesar Salad and a Manhattan Cocktail

Just a regular evening for me after a day at the office!

Just a regular evening for me after a day at the office!

One of my favorite shows is “Mad Men.” This month I’ve been rapidly re-watching Season 4 so I can catch up with Season 5. While I love the psychological and interpersonal parts of the show, I really enjoy looking for vintage cookery items. Betty Crocker’s Hostess Cookbook that Betty had displayed on her kitchen counter (I have a copy!), the vintage barware and cocktail glasses that everyone drinks out of at work (I’ve searched high and low on eBay!), and the visits to restaurants.

In Season 1, I remember watching a restaurant dinner scene where a Caesar salad was made and served table-side. Ah, how romantic! Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a Caesar salad made just for you, while you watched the waiter gently take the lettuce, add egg and lemon, toss, and serve?

Last year, The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin was published. I’ve never been one for cookbooks based on television shows, but I was able to get a sneak peek of some of the recipes online. The salad dressing recipe struck my fancy, because if this was “Mad Men,” I imagined it would be an authentic Caesar dressing I could make at home.

One thing, this made more than 2 cups of salad dressing, way more than I could use up for one dinner (or even two). It also has a raw egg, so I questioned how long it could last in the fridge. (I used it a couple of weeks later and have lived, but that’s about as far as I would push it.) So if you cook for a small family, you might want to set this recipe aside the next time you have a dinner party. While the ingredient list is long, it’s just the blender and pulsing, so not a lot of work went into making this.

A Manhattan is one of my favorites wintertime cocktails. Dark and brooding, one sip and you can imagine yourself sitting right next to Don Draper in a lounge! This recipe is the way my uncle makes Manhattans and I love the added flavor of the Southern Comfort, but you can always use the traditional sweet vermouth if you prefer.


Caesar Salad
From The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin

Courtesy of Executive Chef Bill Rodgers, Keens’ Steakhouse, New York, New York
Note: At Keens the waiters dress the salad and add the garnishes tableside.

The recipe makes one large salad portion. You’ll have leftover dressing and croutons. Executive Chef Bill Rodgers also recommends using this delicious salad dressing for marinating grilled chicken.

For the salad
3 1/2 cups clean, cut romaine lettuce
2 ounces Caesar Dressing (see recipe below)

For the topping
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

For the garnish
Raw egg yolk
4 thin slices pimiento
2 anchovy filets, cut in half (4 pieces)
Caesar Croutons (see recipe below)

1. Make the salad: Place lettuce in a serving bowl. Toss with dressing.

2. Sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano on top, garnish with egg yolk, pimento, anchovy filets, and croutons and toss well.

Yield: 1 large salad (serves 1–2)

Caesar Dressing
1 1/2 ounces water
1 ounce lemon juice
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup pure olive oil
1 1/2 ounces red wine vinegar
1 egg yolk
6 peeled garlic cloves
10 Italian anchovy filets
2 2/3 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoons light brown sugar
3/4 tablespoon dry mustard
3/4 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1. Make the dressing: Combine the water and lemon juice in a measuring cup and set aside.

2. Combine canola and olive oils in a measuring cup and set aside.

3. In the blender, combine the remaining ingredients and mix for 10 seconds. With the blender running, slowly begin to add the combined oils in a slow and steady stream. As you continue to add the oil, the mixture will begin to thicken. When the mixture thickens, thin it out with 1/3 of the water/lemon juice mixture. Repeat this process until all the oil has been incorporated.

4. Chill dressing until cold.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups dressing

Caesar Croutons

Note: Place the bread in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before slicing to make it easier to cut even squares.

Whole melted butter can be substituted for the clarified butter, but will brown the croutons faster. To make clarified butter, melt 4 tablespoons of butter slowly in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit until it separates. Skim off the foam that rises to the top, and gently pour the butter off of the milk solids, which will have settled to the bottom.

6 slices white bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/4-inch squares (see note above)
2 tablespoons clarified butter, melted (see note above)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, parsley and thyme)
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Toss bread cubes in a bowl with the remaining ingredients.

2. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or just until slightly browned and crisp. Let cool at room temperature before serving. Store covered in an airtight container.

Yield: Croutons for 6 large Caesar salads

Cook’s Notes:
• You’ll notice I did very little in the way of accompaniments with my salad. I like it almost unadorned, hence why I didn’t include the various salad garnishes.

• I also didn’t make the croutons as described here; I made my usual. Stale Italian bread, cubed, tossed with a little olive oil and salt and pepper, bake at 350 degrees until brown. A lot quicker and simpler than their croutons, although they sound delicious!

Manhattan Cocktail

Two parts bourbon
One part Southern Comfort
One maraschino cherry

Blend the two ingredients together in a cocktail shaker, stir, and serve up in a martini glass. Add cherry and a drop of cherry juice, if you like.

If you don’t have Southern Comfort, you can easily make this with three parts bourbon and a small splash of sweet vermouth.

7 thoughts on ““Mad Men” Caesar Salad and a Manhattan Cocktail

  1. With all the scary stories about raw eggs, I’ve not made my own caesar dressing in awhile. Maybe it’s time to throw caution to the wind and live a little! As to the Manhattan (also a favorite of mine), your dad says it’s common to add a few drops of bitters to it. That might cut down on the sweet taste that makes them so irresistable, so I haven’t tried it.

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