Mad Martinis (Not!)

Writer and cocktail expert Kara Newman is a fan of Mad Men but not its bone-dry martinis. Instead, her cocktail for watching Mad Men is the Fiery Almond.

Fiery Almond

These days, if you love cocktails it’s assumed you also love the hit TV series “Mad Men,” which in turn assumes you love a good dry martini (gin, natch, not vodka), one of the ad world’s hallmark drinks sipped over and over throughout the series, most frequently in triplicate during long-gone expense-account lunches.

Mad MenOkay, I’ll cop to the “Mad Men” season pass. But if I admit I don’t love a dry Sterling  Cooper martini, do I have to give back my cocktail credentials? Because I don’t. In fact, my taste veers straight to the other end of the flavor spectrum: I love a sweet, creamy, luxurious drink, the polar opposite of a “dry” anything.

Very uncool of me to admit to this, I know.

If a dry martini is a perfect aperitif, then the Fiery Almond is the equivalent of dessert. Think of it another way:  dry-roasted almonds versus a luscious slice of toasted pound cake crowned with melted chocolate sauce. The first coaxes the appetite, the latter satiates it.

The problem with sweet drinks is they sometimes can be cloying. But I’ve found that a hit of spice helps alleviate that and cuts the overall smack of sweetness. So I’ve added a chipotle-and-cocoa rim to this drink. On a spicy scale of 1 to 10, the heat in this dessert-like drink rates a big fat zero. That is, until you add the chipotle-cocoa rim. With this one easy but impressive touch, the spice level soars anywhere between a 7 and a sizzling 10!  I recommend using a two-to-one cocoa powder-to-chipotle ratio, but use the chipotle solo if you have the steely, unflinching swagger of Don Draper.


The Fiery Almond

This libation will never see the inside of a Madison Avenue boardroom, but it’s perfect for sipping in front of the fire as autumn gives way to winter, or for capping off a great meal with a hint of sizzle and a touch of lingering sweetness. But my favorite: defiantly imbibing it in front of the tube while watching those martini-swilling characters on “Mad Men”—on TiVo, of course.–Kara Newman

The Fiery Almond

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  • 5 M
  • Makes 1 cocktail
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  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon chipotle powder
  • 3/4 ounces amaretto
  • 1/2 ounce Kahlua
  • 1 ounce light cream


  • 1. To rim the glass: moisten the rim with amaretto. Combine cocoa and chipotle powder in a small dish or shallow bowl. Carefully dip the rim of the glass into the powder mix to coat.
  • 2. In a bar shaker or kitchen tumbler, shake together the amaretto and Kahlua over ice; strain the mixture into an old-fashioned glass half-filled with ice.
  • 3. Gently pour the cream over the back of a spoon to create a “float” on top of the fiery almond without disturbing the rest of the drink.


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