Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Hey Kid! Make Me A Mixed Drink!

Leave it to AMC's retro 1960s drama Mad Men to have a non-ironic scene featuring a grade-school aged girl mixing cocktails for her parents and their friends before they play cards.

When I watch Mad Men -- and am consistently awed by it -- one of my favorite pastimes is comparing the parental mores of the early 1960s, when the show is set, with those of today's hyper-vigilant, super-perfect, smothering style of child rearing. The differences are stark.

The most recent Mad Men episode, for example, had a delightful scene where the lead character, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) had his daughter Sally make drinks for the adults. First she made drinks and delivered them to her father and a neighbor (I didn't quite catch what drink they got), then went into the kitchen and took orders from her mother and friend who each wanted a Tom Collins.

"Okay, you don't smash the cherry on that, you just plop it in at the end," Don advised his daughter. "Try to keep it in the top of the glass. Gin." And off she went, this child did, already apparently knowledgeable about what went into a Tom Collins. (The web site Yum Sugar has a recipe in case you're interested.) My kids don't know gin from vodka from Scotch. If I said, "Tom Collins" to them, they'd likely say, "Who?" I personally would have to look up the drink in a book.

The scene reminded me of Christie Mellor's tongue-in-cheek collection of humor/parenting essays, The Three Martini Playdate, where she suggests that parents should only allow their children to stick around adults-only gatherings for a brief period of time and only if they do something useful, like serve cocktails. In a section entitled, "Our Little Tot's First Martini Recipe," Mellor mused, "All young children should know how to make this delightful yet deceptively simple cocktail for their parents and other thirsty grown-ups who drop by around five o'clock."

Wonder if this kids-making-the-adults-cocktails thing could ever catch on again? My kids would have to master the G&Ts though, not a Tom Collins.
Image credit: AMC.

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