Is there a more perfect woman than Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks? Now we can add this to the list of things that make her so lovely: an appreciation for Scotch. The woman who plays Joan Holloway hosted the opening of Johnnie Walker’s (actually really nice) pop-up lounge space, House of Walker, in Soho last night, and chatted with Grub Street about drinking, of course, and cooking for holiday parties. Now we need to find a way to score an invite to her New Year’s Eve party.
Tell me about your relationship with Johnnie Walker. They said they read an article where you said you love Scotch and you think it’s sexy when a man drinks Scotch.
So what are you doing, how are you partnering up with Johnnie Walker?
Well, we were just saying how organically it happened. I did this magazine piece where I said, you know, my husband loves Scotch and they contacted me and said, “Do you want to learn more about it and then help us tell other people about it?” And I was, like, “Yeah! Sounds amazing.” So really, it’s exciting. They educate you on the Scotch, and I have to say, when you’re knowledgeable about something it makes you appreciate it that much more. So, you know, I’ve been enjoying learning more about it and enjoying the Scotch more.
How do you like to drink your Scotch? And what part of the day is your favorite for a sip?
[Laughs.] Early morning! No, it is a nice thing to come home [to] at the end of the day, ‘cause, for me, it’s such a slow, sipping drink; it’s very, very nice. I like my Green Label neat or I like my Gold Label chilled. My husband likes Black Label on the rocks.
Other than coming to New York for Johnnie Walker, how have you been spending your hiatus from Mad Men?
Well, I just did two films, and I did an episode of my husband’s television show that will be coming out in the spring — and that was last week, so I’ve only had a week off. [Laughs.] It hasn’t been much of a hiatus yet.
So you’ve really been busy.
Yeah. Now it’s the holidays, so I get to enjoy the holidays.
What are your holiday plans?
My husband and I will be joining my father for Christmas, and then I think we’re going to host a nice big New Year’s Eve party.
At your home?
You’re a foodie. Do you have any special holiday-season eats?
Well, I always make cookies every year. And when we have these parties I cook for four, five days ahead of time, making the appetizers and everything, and filling my freezer with pizza dough and making all sorts of appetizers. And my husband bakes, so we work for a while; we put in a good four or five days.
Do you have a specialty?
I like making Indian food a lot, but I have to say at my parties, it’s my Swiss-chard goat-cheese pizzas.
Is there a secret ingredient?
Lots of garlic.
And do you make homemade pizza crusts?
Yeah, I make homemade crusts. [Laughs.]
You always make cookies for your holiday parties. What kind of cookies?
My childhood favorite, dream bars. Graham-cracker crumb with walnuts, coconut, chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk. It’s, like, the easiest cookie ever, and it’s the most delicious.
And your husband bakes. What’s his specialty?
Well, he’s kind of the bread guy. He’ll make cheese loafs or Nutella loafs, and, you know, he uses Sel Magique at the end of it, which is this wonderful fleur de sel with herbes de Provence that he puts over the top of it, and it’s mouthwatering. You know, he can’t be the guy that makes salads, of course. He’s got to be the guy who makes bread, right? [Laughs.]
Sounds good to me. How many people are you expecting at your New Year’s Eve party that you’re cooking all this food for?
Well usually our holiday parties are about a hundred people, but I think it’ll be smaller because it’s New Year’s. I’m expecting probably 40 or 50 instead.
And it doesn’t faze you to cook for that many people?
I’ve just got to be prepared. I do a lot of prep work, there are a lot of things in the freezer. A lot of dips, anything that can be made four or five days ahead are made.
What’s your biggest efficiency tip?
I just have my mis en place ready for me. I have everything chopped before I even start the project so I don’t have to, you know, remember something in the middle of it. Everything is already measured out and chopped before I start.
You once mentioned that your dream would be to be a Top Chef judge.
[Sounding dreamy.] Oh, yeah.
Did that ever come to fruition?
You know, they did ask [her and her husband] to do an episode of Top Chef Masters, and we couldn’t because of work. And I have to tell you, it broke our hearts, so I’m hoping that they’ll come to us again because it is an absolute dream. I sit there and watch, and I’m like, my mouth is watering watching the food. I want to taste it.
They couldn’t arrange another date for you two?
Their scheduling just didn’t work out. But we almost went to Anita Lo’s restaurant the other night because she was on Top Chef Masters. We try to go to each of their restaurants and check it out. So we’re going to go check her restaurant out soon.
Do you have more movies lined up or are you taking a little time off?
Nothing lined up yet. I’m going to take the holidays off and hopefully get back to work in January. That’s my plan.
But you don’t know the project yet.
Yes. Hopefully I’ll try to do another movie before I get back.
Anything you can talk about?
Well, I just finished a movie called Drive that I’m really excited about with Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. It’s directed by Nicholas Refn, who did Bronson, which I thought was amazing, so I was really excited to work with him, really talented, really amazing to work with. I just finished that about a week and a half ago, so I’m excited about that.