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Friday, December 4, 2020
Culture Living large in Don Draper's New York

Living large in Don Draper’s New York

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

By Jill Becker

Special to CNN


(CNN) — Thanks to hard-drinking, hardworking Don Draper, we’ve traveled through the ’60s in style. Now let’s take a look at the ad man’s New York.

“Mad Men,” the AMC series that Rolling Stone called “the greatest TV drama of all time,” is back for a new season on Sunday. And though it’s filmed primarily in Los Angeles, the show is set in New York, and notable locations across the city are prominent in the script as liberally as a heap of pastrami on rye.

In preparation for the season six premiere, we offer you this guide to the NYC haunts of ad exec Draper and his endlessly entertaining cohorts at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.


On an episode titled “Red in the Face,” bosses-on-the-loose Draper and Roger Sterling spend their lunch — and expense accounts — taking full advantage of the eats and drinks at the venerable Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant, some of which later embarrassingly ended up on the carpet at the feet of a group of potential clients. Hopefully you’ll have more restraint when you visit this 100-year-old seafood establishment on the lower level of Grand Central Station, where tourists mingle with commuters over martinis and platters of freshly shucked oysters and other fishy delights. 89 E. 42nd St., www.oysterbarny.com

Another celebration featuring our Mad Men stars, this time Draper and the lusty wife of an insult comic, took place at legendary restaurant Sardi’s. Even the framed celebrity caricatures on its walls were re-created for the scene. Located in the heart of the Theater District, Sardi’s has been a favorite with the Broadway crowd for more than 85 years (the Tony Awards were thought up here), and you’ll feel like a star just for having eaten here. 234 W. 44th St., www.sardis.com


The Roosevelt Hotel has been featured in a couple of “Mad Men” scenes, including one in which Draper retreats here after being kicked out of the house by his wife, Betty. A stay at this landmark hotel will have you feeling like a part of the show, especially since its decor gives it the appearance of an elaborate “Mad Men” set piece, but the place to really connect with the show is just past the lobby in the Madison Club Lounge.

On April 7, to coincide with the season premiere, the lounge will host a viewing party with complimentary whiskey tastings and a “Best ‘Mad Men’ Attire” contest. The festivities will continue with themed cocktails and an invitation for patrons to dress in their ’60s best each Sunday the show airs. 45 E. 45th St., www.theroosevelthotel.com

Remember Peggy and her colleagues doing the Twist at a local watering hole after she nailed the Belle Jolie presentation in season one? The site was P.J. Clarke’s, one of the oldest bars in New York. Truly a Big Apple institution and a popular hangout among ad execs in the 1960s, P.J. Clarke’s was once described by one of its beloved barmen as “the Vatican of saloons.” 915 Third Ave., www.pjclarkes.com


When Draper and friends started their own agency at the end of season three, they set up shop, at least temporarily, in a suite at the Pierre hotel. The fabled lodging, which overlooks Central Park, was renovated and modernized a few years back, so your room might not ooze nostalgia. But if you close your eyes tight enough, you might just be able to imagine Joan typing away in the corner or Pete squawking on the phone with a client. 2 E. 61st St.,www.tajhotels.com/pierre

Given that the Hotel Elysée in Midtown Manhattan is the scene of a lunchtime tryst between copywriter Peggy and a fellow named Duck from a rival agency, it’s only appropriate that the prestigious property is offering a special “Mad Men” package for fans of the show. It includes accommodations in one of its luxurious suites, which will be stocked with a dozen roses, strawberries and a box of chocolates, as well as two free cocktails either at the Monkey Bar or brought to your room. The package starts at $425 for a regular suite and $1,450 for a presidential suite. 60 E. 54th St., www.elyseehotel.com


In season one, Pete Campbell was caught returning a wedding gift at Bloomingdale’s, one of the city’s most legendary department stores, where stylish lads and ladies have been filling the brand’s signature Little Brown Bags with luxury goods since 1886. The doorman there to open the cab door for you only adds to the allure. 1000 Third Ave., www.bloomingdales.com


The pitchmen of Sterling Cooper officed at an address on Madison Avenue that doesn’t actually exist in real life, but a number of big-time ad agencies can be found along this historic avenue. Take a stroll down its sidewalks, and you’ll rub elbows with the idea men and women who churn out award-winning copy for powerhouse firms like DDB and TBWA and smaller boutique agencies like StrawberryFrog and MacDonald Media. Madison Avenue, primarily between 26th and 52nd Streets


If these classic “Mad Men” sights leave you wanting more, consider signing up for “The World of Mad Men: NYC During the Early 1960s” excursion from NYC Discovery Walking Tours. In addition to stops at spots like the ones noted above that have been mentioned on the show, you’ll visit iconic locations representative of the era, including the Pan Am Building and Lever House. Tours are scheduled for April 6 and 7, May 5 and June 22; tickets are $20. For reservations, call 212-465-3331.


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