Mad Men Cocktails at Eight-O
There’s no denying the influence of Mad Men on popular culture. The AMC drama set in Madison Avenue in the early ’60s is abundantly stylized. But in addition to the sleek Modernist furniture and clothing, Mad Men also offers a stylized depiction of early-’60s American society, one in which father knows best, women know their place, and indulgence reigns supreme –– everyone chain-smokes wherever he or she damn well pleases, and every office is outfitted with a mini-bar, to which many characters return often and sometimes as early as 10 in the morning. (They hiring?!) Today, Modernist styling is everywhere, evident most notably in automotive design, advertising, and, perhaps most importantly, young celebrities’ choice of evening attire. Arguably, a return to Modernist sensibilities is manifest in the Tea Party, a take-no-prisoners, largely white, largely middle-class-to-affluent political movement defined by loss: mainly, the loss of disposable income. Which came first? The TV show or the political group? No one will ever know, but what we can say with some certainty is that they’re both the result of an overriding fear that swept into the post-9/11 American consciousness. Out of fear, people cling desperately, often suffocatingly to what they’ve got or revert psychologically to seemingly simpler times (though, admittedly, the threat of nuclear annihilation that cast a long shadow over Mad Men’s generation was also pretty frightening).
Into the conversation now comes 8.0 Restaurant & Bar, an esteemed Sundance Square establishment that has just introduced a vintage-cocktail menu: A mere $11 will get you either a Manhattan (whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters) or a Zombie (dark, light, and high-proof rums, cherry brandy, orange juice, lemon juice, grenadine), and for $12, you have your choice of a Blood & Sand (Scotch, rosso vermouth, cherry brandy, orange juice), French 75 (Bombay Sapphire Gin, St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur, and lemon juice, topped off with champagne and a lemon twist), Negroni (gin, sweet vermouth, bitters [traditionally Campari]), Old Fashioned (blended whiskey, sugar, bitters, lemon, cherry, orange), or Sazerac (cognac, rye whiskey, absinthe or Herbsaint, and Peychaud’s Bitters). On certain days of the week, prices are slashed nearly in half: Six bucks on Mondays gets you a Moscow Mule (normally $11), on Tuesdays a Gin Rickey (normally $11), on Wednesdays a Classic Rita (normally $11), on Thursdays a Brandy Alexander (normally $12), on Fridays a Mint Julep (normally $11), or on Sundays a Sidecar (normally $12). Saturdays feature half-priced wine.
By rolling out the vintage-cocktail menu, was Eight-O merely responding to customer demand or just trying something new (or, even, following the lead established by The Usual, a Southside lounge whose drink menu consists mainly of Prohibition-Era cocktails)? We’ll probably never know, though I have to say that I’m excited about Eight-O’s new menu. Any little thing that may imbue me with just a smidge of Don Draper’s worldly sophistication and alpha-male cool has got my liver’s undivided attention.