It’s a Mad, Mad World

Do you ever wish that you were born into a different era? That you could experience the lawless underground of the 1920s, or revel in the gum-smacking, bell bottom-laden, disco ball ’70s? To me, that sort of time travel would be a thrilling proposition. And not only for the adventure; sometimes I feel I would’ve fit in better somewhere in the long-lost past.

Am I alone in imagining my anachronistic traits restored to their proper time period? For awhile, my letter-writing habit had me questioning my 21st-century surroundings, as did my later, unrelated fixation on psychedelic rock and the ’60s culture of revolution. And growing up, that was the appeal of American Girl dolls—or really, the American Girl books. I saw myself in all their protagonists: the headstrong little girls who performed heroic feats in their colonial-era petticoats, or who hunkered down with their families during World War II, planting victory gardens and collecting scrap metal for the soldiers of the Pacific front.

More recently, I’ve found that escapist pleasure in front of my TV, on Mad Men. I’m not as die-hard about it as many people are, but there’s something mesmerizing about the ultra-structured clothing—and the ultra-structured façades of characters whose brimming emotions simmer dangerously below the surface. (Plus, I love Joan’s hair, and really, everything else about her.) So you’ll find me on the sofa these coming Sunday evenings, projecting myself into the ’60s and enjoying a cold drink.

Yes, the Mad Men characters prefer old-fashioneds and gimlets, so spiked watermelon lemonade may not be the most faithful liquid representation of the series. But then again, what characterizes the show better than Don Draper’s chronic unfaithfulness? The rationalization certainly works for me.

Serves 4-6
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Whitney in Chicago

– 1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
– 2 cups seedless watermelon purée (I used a yellow melon, but you’ll get a pretty pink color if you don’t.)
– simple syrup, to taste* (about 3/4 cup)
– 3 cups cold water
– vodka

* Simple syrup can be made by simmering equal parts water and sugar in a small saucepan and stirring until dissolved. For this recipe, you will need about 3/4 cup simple syrup, depending on your preference for sweetness. Hedge your bets and use 1 cup water to 1 cup sugar, storing any excess in the fridge.

1) In a pitcher, stir together all ingredients except the vodka. Chill in refrigerator.
2) Pour desired amount of vodka into each serving glass, then add cold lemonade. Drink, preferably while watching Mad Men, or heck, just sitting out on your front porch.

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