Drinking History


There is an element of history that cannot be ignored when looking at drinking and cocktail culture.  I’ve recently started re-watching Mad Men the period series from AMC about madison avenue in the 60’s.  It has been given many awards and nominated for many more.  I can’t seem to get over the AMC writing problem.  Every series I’ve seen from them seems to have it.  The Killing, Walking dead and Mad men all seem to be set to a level of pacing exactly one step behind my attention span.  Every plot twist is one note slower than what is needed.

Since I have a lot more time to watch the show right now I’m letting my mind wander and I’m watching it for the drinking more than anything else.  Watching people drink at work seems stranger than even the constant smoking and sexual harassment.

Early in the series there is a wonderful semi-monologue from Roger Sterling one of the firm’s partners on the subject of drinking.

Roger Tells it like it is.

One could quite easily place his statements in the context of any two generations talking about differences in culture but they seem interesting given the time periods in question.  Don Draper is 36 in this instance, meaning he was born in 1936 about three years post prohibition.  His boss Roger is a Navy Veteran of WWII and was born in 1910.

Roger had the experience of growing up and entering adulthood during the shadow of prohibition.

Neither is really portrayed as having a serious drinking problem given the standards of the time but 3-5 drinks a day for a busy professional is considered “normal” by a doctor giving Don a checkup.

The series gives a number of other interesting moments, such as the novelty of an imported beer like Heineken and the frequency of such drinks as the gimlet.  At one point Don receives a bottle of stolichnaya and a box of cigars as a present.  It underscores the global nature of alcohol culture how easily we take something like Russian vodka for granted.


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