NEW YORK — “Mad Men” signs off with its series finale May 17, but New York City isn’t done with Don Draper.
The Big Apple has made a big deal out of the AMC drama’s seventh and final season’s swan song, rolling out a bunch of special events and exhibits to fete the Emmy-winning series about the men and women who toiled (and got trashed) at Madison Avenue ad agencies in the tumultuous ’60s.
Restaurants even got in on the act, offering liquid lunches for $19.69 in March. That deal’s as over as Don and Betty’s marriage. And Don and Megan’s, for that matter. But there are plenty of other ways to toast the departure of one of television’s greatest dramas in one of the world’s greatest cities.
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Through June 14, the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens is home to a fantastic exhibit, “Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men,” a deep dive into the show’s creative process and meticulous attention to period detail.
The well-curated collection of props, videos and mid-century artifacts includes Weiner’s handwritten notes about “Mad Men” storylines and characters — some old enough to be scribbled on stationary for “The Sopranos,” the HBO hit that once counted Weiner among its scribes. Also interesting: pages from Weiner’s early screenplay, “The Horseshoe,” where the troubled antihero who would become Don Draper (Jon Hamm) originated.
One of the most illuminating tidbits is a script for the stellar season one finale, “The Wheel,” featuring an alternate ending that’s way more warm and fuzzy than the one that aired.
“I don’t like you in New York.” — Bonnie, Pete Campbell’s California girlfriend
“Well, then you don’t like me.” — Pete, “The Strategy” (season 7, episode 6)
The sets for Don’s office and the family’s kitchen in Ossining, New York — the site of many a passive-aggressive encounter over the years — were schlepped cross-country from Los Angeles to the museum. The writers’ room has been recreated, too, complete with a white board covered in story notes for the first half of season seven.
The wardrobe on “Mad Men” is legendary (can I get a woot woot for costume designer Janie Bryant?), and it makes up a sizable chunk of the exhibit. More than 30 costumes are on display, including Joan’s blood-stained green dress from The Lawnmower Incident and that little black number Megan (Jessica Pare) rocked while crooning “Zou Bisou Bisou” at Don’s 40th surprise party. (Still one of my favorite scenes in the entire series, if only for the range of priceless reactions plastered on the characters’ faces).
The best time to visit the museum (closed Mondays and Tuesdays) is 4 to 8 p.m. Fridays, when the $12 admission fee is waived. Since you’re already in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, mosey over to the friendly, family-run restaurant E Taverna for some tasty Greek tapas whose prices seem stuck in the ’60s, at least by modern-day Manhattan standards.
Back in Midtown near Radio City Music Hall, have a seat and snap a selfie on the Draper bench, a temporary installation outside the Time-Life Building at 1271 Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue), the address of the fictional offices of Sterling Cooper & Partners.
“Mad Men” cast members Jon Hamm, January Jones (Betty), Elisabeth Moss (Peggy), Christina Hendricks (Joan) and John Slattery (Roger) helped christen the sleek sculpture at its unveiling shortly before the final batch of seven episodes premiered in April. The bench, modeled after that iconic image of Don in the title sequence, will be there all summer.
The list of NYC restaurants itemized on Sterling Cooper expense accounts is too numerous to mention. If you want to eat at one of the more recognizable ones, book a table at Sardi’s, 234 W. 44th St., a Theater District mainstay for nearly a century.
Sardi’s walls are covered with caricatures of famous folks, old and new. This is the joint in season two where Don’s mistress Bobbie Barrett beckons him to come celebrate the sale of her obnoxious husband’s TV pilot before the two lovers embark on an ill-fated car ride to Bobbie’s Long Island beach house.
To really follow in Don’s footsteps, book a room at Madison Avenue’s Roosevelt Hotel, the philandering protagonist’s home away from home after Betty gave him the boot.
The bar at the Roosevelt is one of the stops on the Mad Men Cocktails Experience Tour, a guided journey to some of the iconic watering holes featured in the show. Stops include party spot P.J. Clarke’s and Grand Central Station’s retro, subterranean Oyster Bar — one of the many sites where Roger Sterling got unapologetically sloshed. Vintage ’60s attire is encouraged on the Thursday and Friday evening excursions priced at $150. (Cheaper daytime tours also are available; visit madmentour.com.)
“Mad Men” fan and Sidewalk Food Tours owner Josh Hirsch leads most of the nighttime jaunts, which the former stock trader-turned-tour operator started offering a couple of years ago.
“We definitely had an uptick in demand with the beginning of the first half of season seven,” said Hirsch, who anticipates interest to continue long after “Mad Men” ends. “Ten years later, that ‘Sex and the City’ bus is still packing them in.”
“Mad Men” airs at 9 p.m. Central, 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on Sundays on AMC.