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Mad if you don't go

Want to hang out at the haunts of the cool Mad Men crowd? Head to the Big Apple, BETH J. HARPAZ writes

Mad Men fans, it's time for a cocktail. The return of the show after an 18-month hiatus is cause for celebration, and there's no better place to raise your glass than in Manhattan at one of Don Draper's favourite haunts.

While many of the places name-dropped in Mad Men no longer exist - Lutece, the Stork Club, Toots Shor's - there are plenty that do, among them P. J. Clarke's, the Roosevelt Hotel and Sardi's. Some Manhattan bars, clubs and hotels are even offering packages, drinks or viewing parties to mark the show's return to American TV screens this weekend - it starts on ours next month.

Of course, the series is filmed in California, so what you see are well-researched sets not real Manhattan bars. But Mad Men fans will not be disappointed by reality. Many of the establishments that turn up on the show retain a classy, retro vibe and can offer a fun, sophisticated setting.

Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin, authors of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, provide A Handy List of Mad Men Haunts in their book along with recipes from them. ''Some of these places just never go out of style, like the Grand Central Oyster Bar,'' Zheutlin says. ''It's such a classic and bustling place.''

Mad Men aficionados know the Oyster Bar at the landmark train terminal was not mentioned by name on the show, but it's believed to be where Don takes Roger Sterling for a martini-and-oyster lunch.

P. J. Clarke's, at Third Avenue and 55th Street, manages to appeal to a trendy 21st century sensibility while channelling the classic cool that got the crowd from Mad Men ad agency Sterling Cooper drinking and doing the twist. P. J. Clarke's ''was the site of many Mad Men parties'', Gelman says.

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According to its real-life bartender, Doug Quinn, P. J. Clarke's ''was a joint often frequented by Madison Avenue advertising executives during the 1960s. Our bar and restaurant continues to be a destination for this crowd''.

The Roosevelt Hotel, 45 East 45th Street at Madison Avenue, where Don stayed after his wife Betty threw him out, is offering a ''Mad Men in the City'' package, starting at $425 a night through to June 30, so guests can ''experience New York City as Don Draper would'', according to Kevin Croke, the hotel's director of sales and marketing. The package includes accommodation and '60s-era themed cocktails at the hotel's lobby-level Madison Club Lounge or its rooftop bar, called mad46. Guests also get a DVD of the show's fourth season, a copy of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook, and tickets to the Paley Centre for Media at 25 West 52nd Street, where advertisements from the era can be viewed.

The Pierre, a Taj Hotel, at 2 East 61st Street, which in Mad Men housed offices for the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce firm, will host a party on this week at its Two E Bar/Lounge in honour of the show's new season. Fans are invited to dress up in their favourite Mad Men outfits and try cocktails like a creme de menthe grasshopper or a ''bikini martini'', a gin, schnapps and blue curacao combo created in honour of the character Joan Holloway.

One of the best places Zheutlin and Gelman ate while researching their cookbook was Keens Steakhouse at 72 West 36th Street. They found the steak ''sumptuous'', and were amused to learn that Keens' top chef had no idea the restaurant turned up in Mad Men. Gelman says the show's depiction of Keens did not fully capture its rich atmosphere and quirky history. It dates to the 19th century and the low ceilings are lined with thousands of old clay pipes. Patrons like Teddy Roosevelt and Babe Ruth stored pipes there for use when they dropped by.

In contrast, Sardi's at 234 West 44th Street was more faithfully recreated in a Mad Men episode, right down to the framed caricatures on the wall. Other Mad Men scenes took place at Dublin House at 225 West 79th Street, an Irish pub; The Palm at 837 Second Avenue, a seafood and steak restaurant; and Barbetta, an Italian restaurant at 321 West 46th Street, which Gelman says remains ''absolutely luxurious and romantic''.

For Mad Men-style shopping, head to Bloomingdale's at 59th Street and Lexington, where Pete returned a wedding gift. Or check out any of Manhattan's Banana Republics. The chain did not exist in Mad Men days, but it's selling a line of show-inspired clothes.

While Mad Men mostly has an uptown look, the characters sometimes go for a walk on New York's bohemian side. One episode finds Don with a girlfriend at the Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village for a poetry reading and folk music. The Gaslight, now defunct, was a hangout for Beat poets and Bob Dylan. A club called 116 has opened at the same address, 116 MacDougal Street, with classic cocktails and acoustic rock. And if, like many Mad Men characters, you're a smoker, there's the newly renovated Carnegie Club cigar lounge at 156 West 56th Street.

Mad Men in New York

■ The new series of Mad Men will hit Australian screens on Movie Extra on April 12.

AP