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It took almost 55 years, but the 1960s are finally over. They ended without our even realizing it, somewhere in the middle of this bifurcated final season of “Mad Men,” after Don Draper and his fellow employees at Sterling Cooper & Partners watched the moon landing and mourned the death of the agency’s gentle co-founder Bert Cooper. When the AMC drama returned a year later, in April, for its final seven episodes, suddenly it was the spring of 1970, and the decade that had defined this show was gone.
Now there are no more reprieves for “Mad Men.” On Sunday, after 92 episodes, the series and the story of Don Draper come to an end.
But more than the characters, dialogue, or auteurist details, what I’ll miss most about Mad Men is the way I, and perhaps many of you, absorbed it. This was not a show that we merely watched. We studied it. We hit pause to verify the names of the books that popped up in certain scenes. (Did everyone else notice the appearance of both Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain and James Michener’s Hawaii—the jumping-off point?—during Don’s hotel stay in last week’s episode? Of course you did. Because you hit pause on the DVR.) We scrutinized the costumes, not only for their period accuracy and textural gorgeousness, but for their deeper meanings. We connected the dots from things that happened all the way back in seasons one or two to the moments unfolding in seasons six or seven. We read up on the 1960s history that served as both backdrop and subtext for whatever was happening in Don’s, Joan’s, Peggy’s, or Pete’s world.
”Mad Men” ends its run on Sunday night, and a toast is definitely in order. Martinis and Manhattans are among the cocktails made for the occasion, New York City the optimal locale.
A “Mad Men” tour of New York might start with a martini at Sardi’s (featured in Season 2), either the Little Bar on the main floor or the larger bar on the second called Club Sardi, but open to all. Upstairs, you get a view outside of the marquees for “Matilda” and “Mamma Mia” on West 44th Street, and inside of a gallery of caricatures — Bob Hope! George Hamilton! Marlo Thomas! The bartenders, in burgundy Sardi’s jackets, are pleasant, and a martini with Stolichnaya is $14.15 (tax included).