7 Essential Liquor Based Drinks Marketing Pros Need to Survive Today


7 Essential Liquor Based Drinks Marketing Pros Need to Survive

I was on the phone yesterday with a client—we’ll call her Peggy—and she was pretty upset. Peggy’s what I call a marketing generalist struggling with an internal culture of GE marketing (Good Enough), a boss who talks about ROI and results, a marketing automation tool that’s overly complicated for her needs (and costs a little more than her budget calls for), little to no internal support, a veritable gaggle of vendors pulling her in a million directions, and a sales organization who won’t even look at the leads Peggy’s generating. Sounds familiar?

We were trading a few war stories (I was part of a similar marketing group before I started MESH), and—as with most conversations of this type—the conversation wrapped up with “we should grab a drink”.

I hung up the phone, closed my aging macbook pro (I’m really due for an upgrade—but it still serves me well), and as I walked out of the office, was thinking about our conversation. Peggy got me thinking about Mad Men. Like most, I really enjoyed the show. And while I love Game of Thrones and Walking Dead, they just aren’t grounded in a reality that I can connect with. They don’t make me nostalgic for a “better time in American History” or a “golden age”. I really loved everything about that show. Especially the “drinking-during-the-middle-of-the-day” aspect. And while drinking before 6 isn’t really practical, the show WAS responsible for me discovering more “grown up” drinks, 60s decor and Johnny Mathis.

What’s Old Becomes New Again

Cocktail culture in the U.S. has shifted from drab to craft; and that swing coincides with the wildly successful series by AMC.

While not handpicking mint or muddling lemons on camera, the show brought focus to the era’s proclivity for spirited drinking, with retro cocktails that have come full circle in bars across the country.

Marketing’s hard. I don’t advocate drinking as a way to deal with these challenges (we’re here to help you with that), but sometimes you just need a little something to unwind. In that spirit (see what I did there), here are seven essential liquor-based drinks inspired by these spirited ad men and women, to help you manage even the worst of your marketing challenges. I’ve got a few favorites, with my current go-to’s being the Old Fashioned and a Whiskey Sour.

Old Fashioned

Our list kicks off with Draper’s drink of choice: the Old Fashioned. Made by muddling an orange peel with a cherry, pinch of sugar, and a few drops of bitters, this cocktail includes bourbon or rye whiskey.

This drink is like pay-per-click advertising because, if you do it right, it’s a sure thing. It only takes one of these lip-puckering cocktails to do the job, which is why it’s a commanding cocktail for nearly every situation.


The ladies of Mad Men were often seen enjoying tangy delights served in petite stemware called Gimlets—Draper’s beautiful wife, Betty, was particularly fond of them.

Gimlets are like memes on the internet; with just an image and some text, memes are easy to make, and ferociously addictive.

Gimlets are just as easy to make. Simply combine a shot and a half of good gin or vodka with a splash of fresh or concentrated lime juice, shake with ice, and strain into a slinky glass.


Draper’s boss, Roger Sterling, is famous for liquid lunches and office martinis. The sleek stem of the glass, and clear liquid content, mean it’s easy to identify.

A martini is just like your call-to-action (CTA); it reads plainly, and the better it’s prepared, the more likely your customers will come back for more. Yet, something so simple is often the most difficult to perfect.

Combine 3 parts gin or vodka with 1 part white vermouth, add ice, and then stir or mix. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist or olive.


The Sidecar’s ambiguous roots (maybe London, maybe Paris) make it a mystery, as well as an inspiration in modem mixology.

With dozens of variations, the Sidecar reminds us that a good marketing plan doesn’t have to be exactly like what the other guys or gals are doing; it just has to work (read: taste good), be replicable, and hopefully, written down somewhere.

Try mixing 2 parts Cognac with 1 part triple sec and 1 part fresh lemon juice over ice and shake. Strain into a martini glass rimed with sugar, and garnish with a lemon wedge.


As the name suggests, New York’s Manhattan Club, a political and social society made up of influential people, invented this boozy cocktail in the 1870s.

Manhattan is also where most of Man Men takes place and another commanding cocktail in the show’s lineup of stars.

A Manhattan is like smart SEO: it’s inconspicuous, not as well understood or appreciated as other branches of marketing. But as any good barkeep will tell you, the ingredients (in this case, 2 parts whiskey to 1 part red vermouth, a few drops of bitters, and a cherry) are just as important to a bar as SEO is to your marketing plan.

Mint Julep

This cocktail hails from the Southern United States and first appeared in Season 1 of Man Men, during Sally Draper’s birthday party. Of course, the drinks were for the parents to enjoy, and enjoy them they did.

Mint Juleps are made by mixing a teaspoon of sugar with a splash of water in a highball glass, and then muddling several mint leaves in the mixture. Fill the glass with ice and pour in a shot or so of good bourbon; then garnish with more mint.

This cocktail offers a great deal in the way of appearance and aroma, attracting even non-bourbon drinkers. Mint Juleps are likened to infographics and video marketing for the same reasons; repackaging challenging content in a fun or unique way often incentivizes people to interact with your content, or, in this case, your cocktail!

Whiskey Sour

One of the show’s most enigmatic characters is Lane Pryce, an Englishmen turned partner in the ad agency, who struggles to maintain his family life.

He’s an accountant who drinks Whisky Sours, a novelty on the show, and perhaps in real life; the addition of egg white to this cocktail make it hard (for some) to swallow.

Pryce’s number crunching and Whisky Sours are a lot like analytics; if you don’t know the egg is in this drink, you might drink it and enjoy it. But knowing the egg white is there is the only way to recreate a Whisky Sour. Smart marketers use analytics (like ingredients) to make better marketing decisions (and drinks).

And here’s how they do it: pour 1 shot of whiskey, 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, a dash of egg white, and 1 tablespoon of simple syrup over ice. Shake well and strain into an ice filled glass; then garnish with a cherry.

Clearly, there’s a lot to be learned from the bottom of a glass or from the seat of a barstool; it’s just a matter of perspective. Mad Men was a fantastic show that peered into the lives of a few ad men who spurred a marketing revolution, during a time in our country’s history when it was still fashionable to drink on the job.

Stay sober at work and leave the cocktails for happy hour; but do look to these seven essential liquor-based cocktails when you want some inspiration, or are looking to share your own war stories.

Got a few stories of your own? Or do you have a favorite cocktail? Email us, we’d love to hear about it!