As we tune into the last episodes of the beloved, NYC 60s advertising show, “Mad Men,” we can contemplate the past few seasons by drinking in places that Don, Roger, Peggy, Pete, and the gang would have enjoyed. So, here, for the final time, I present to you my list of “best places to pretend you’re in advertising in NYC” for drinks and “camaraderie.”
King Cole Bar: Once a bastion of cigar-smoking account types like Ken Cosgrove and Pete Campbell, the King Cole Bar in the elegant St. Regis Hotel is the birthplace of the Bloody Mary, known here as the Red Snapper. This classic bar also is known for its famous mural, “Old King Cole” by Maxfield Parrish. St. Regis Hotel, 2 E. 55th St., 212-753-4500; www.stregisnewyork.com
Trouble’s Trust at the New York Palace: The appropriately named bar in the New York Palace Hotel is the modern version of the King Cole Bar. Hidden under the lobby’s grand staircase, the bar entices with “vintage specialty” cocktails that Betty and Henry would have enjoyed on a trip into the city. My guess is that Betty would have chosen The “Queen of Mean” cocktail if she could have fast-forwarded a few decades, a potent mix of whiskey and gin to be sipped with a mix of hauteur and vulnerability. Henry, being the politician that he is, would have no doubt opted for a turn-of-the-century “Bronx Cocktail.” 455 Madison Ave., 212-888-7000; www.newyorkpalace.com
Bill’s Food & Drink: It’s not exactly the original Bill’s Gay Nineties, but it’s pretty close. Set in a 19th-century townhouse, Bill’s was once the site of a Prohibition Era speakeasy. Listen to the pianist in the downstairs bar while you knock back a Scotch, just steps away from many of the original Madison Avenue ad agencies. You can finish the evening upstairs with an oversized ribeye and an aptly named Hanky Panky gin cocktail, a clubby setting for consummating a business deal (or other kind of tryst). 57 East 54th Street, 212-538-2727. www.bills54.com.
Monkey Bar: Across the street from Bill’s, the landmark Hotel Elysée (once known as the “easy lay”) has welcomed guests like Joe DiMaggio and Marlon Brandon. Step inside the bar just off the lobby with its iconic monkey mural. You can just picture Roger downing a Manhattan or two before heading for a room upstairs. Hotel Elysée, 50 East 54th Street, 212-753-1066. www.elyseehotel.com.
Madison Club Lounge: The historic lounge in the Roosevelt Hotel is classic Mad Men with its mahogany walls, stained glass windows, and leather bar seats. It’s likely Don began and ended his day here during the time he lived at the hotel, pouring vodka into his orange juice. 45 East 45th Street, 212-66-19600. www.theroosevelthotel.com.
Bemelman’s Bar: Some things never go out of style. Live piano music, enchanting murals of animals by Ludwig Bemelmans of Eloise fame, plus formally dressed waiters make this an Upper East Side landmark. The perfectly chilled and poured martini comes in a shaker with enough liquor for a potent drink and a half, and the banquettes are perfect for cuddling. The Carlyle Hotel, 35 East 76th Street, 212-744-1500. www.rosewoodhotels/com/en/the-carlyle-new-york
P.J. Clarke’s: Nearly 130 years old, P.J. Clarke’s still appeals to the after-work drinking and dining set. The neighborhoody bar serves up cold beers, oysters on the half, and burgers to a crowd of ad execs and locals. It’s the perfect spot for mingling, meeting a blind date, or celebrating a copywriting success as Peggy did. 9015 Third Ave., 212-317-1616. www.pjclarkes.com
21 Club: Infamous for its Prohibition-era speakeasy status, this restaurant has attracted every president since FDR (except George W. Bush) to dine or imbibe. Come for a martini just like James Bond in 007 or try a Southside, the rum and mint cocktail invented here. It’s quiet enough, too, that Ted and Peggy could have shared a drink at the 21 without having had to escape to an afternoon Roman Polanski movie. 21 W. 52nd St., 212-582-7200; www.21club.com.
Campbell Apartment: This luxurious lounge in Grand Central Terminal will bring you back to another era. The space, once used as an office for New York financier John Campbell, still exudes the same sleek, refinement with its low lighting, rich woodwork and beamed ceiling. Take a seat on the balcony for extra privacy. We’d recommend the Prohibition Punch for aptly named Pete Campbell. 15 Vanderbilt Ave., 212-953-0409
The Blue Bar at the Algonquin: Once the hot spot for the literati, The Blue Bar is filled with Al Hirschfield’s artwork depicting a variety of Broadway shows. The cozy bar with its blue upholstery is known for the Algonquin Cocktail, a mix of whisky, dry vermouth, and pineapple juice. It’s reputed that the literary ghosts of the likes of Dorothy Parker will even sit with you to provide inspiration and absorb the black-tie service. The Algonquin Hotel, 59 W. 44th St., 212-840-6800; www.algonquinhotel.com
Sardi’s: Since 1921, this legendary restaurant with celebrity caricatures adorning its walls has served as the spot for before or after theater. It’s also a favorite rendezvous spot for Don Draper and his lady friends. To behave like a true “mad man,” book a table on Thursdays and Fridays for jazz and cabaret and skip the cocktail: a bottle of Dom Perignon is more in keeping with the mood. 234 W. 44th St., 212-221-8440; www.sardis.com