Serious Entertaining

Seasonal menu planning for the perfect dinner party.

Serious Entertaining: Mad Men Season Premiere Party

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[Photographs: Carrie Vasios]

After a long, painful wait, it's finally happening. I have my cocktail shaker on standby, my cherry apron around my waist, and a Pandora station dedicated to the Supremes. That's right, this Saturday, just a few short days away, Mad Men will make its season 5 premiere.

My life has felt plain and decidedly less suave without Don Draper to teach me in the ways of cool. Without Betty to lead through bad example, my house-wifely duties have been falling to pieces. There was no Joan to set me straight. No Peggy to remind me that I should be happy I have a job at all.

To celebrate the return of the whole boozy crew, I'm inviting friends over, making a few throwback dishes and a ton of classic cocktails. I think Sterling would suggest you do the same.

New Ambrosia Salad

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Ok, so this salad is only distantly related to the true ambrosia salad, which was a terrifying mix of canned Mandarin oranges, pineapple, mini marshmallows, coconut, and whipped cream. But the inspiration is there: citrus fruit with a creamy dressing and a sprinkle of coconut for garnish. The trick here is using cucumber and celery for crunch and plenty of lime juice in the dressing. The result is surprisingly refreshing and light.

Get the Recipe: New Ambrosia Salad »

Individual Meatloaves

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I imagine that this entrĂ©e was popular in the 1960s because it was a breeze for frenzied housewives to make. You just assemble what is essentially a very large meatball, brush it with some ketchup or layer it with bacon, and pop it in the oven. Voilà: a hearty, delicious meal. Sure, bad meatloaf can be dry or one-note, but these individual servings use a combination of pork, beef, vegetables, and rosemary to stay flavorful and exciting.

Get the Recipe: Individual Meat Loaves »

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Another invention that Betty would have loved? Canned pineapple. (How exotic and convenient!) For this modern take, I use fresh fruit, but that gooey, caramelized, layered top and vanilla-scented cake bottom will be recognizable to any one from the Greatest Generation.

Get the Recipe: Pineapple Upside Down Cake »

Cocktails

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[Photograph: Jennifer Hess]

No Mad Men party would be right without a full bar. Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, and Martinis (for a crowd) are my three classic cocktails of choice.

Manhattans »
Apple Brandy Old Fashioneds »
Martinis For A Crowd »

About the author: Carrie Vasios is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios

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