Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks, from left), Roger Sterling (John Slattery), Lane Pryce (Jared Harris), Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), Don Draper
Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks, from left), Roger Sterling (John Slattery), Lane Pryce (Jared Harris), Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), Don Draper (Jon Hamm), Bertram Cooper (Robert Morse) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) are cast members of AMC's "Mad Men." (MCT)
Gin and ice rattle in a martini shaker.

The bartender pours his concoction into a glass and slides it toward a suit, who doesn't know whether it's bitter, sweet, dirty or sour.

Sunday night, that bartender is writer/creator Matthew Weiner. The martini, the season five premiere of his AMC TV series "Mad Men."

The suit or skirt hunched over the bar is the audience, thirsty for tonight's two-hour premiere titled "A Little Kiss."

After "Mad Men's" season four finale aired Oct. 17, 2010, the show went on an extended hiatus, leaving fans with little to do but watch reruns and speculate about what's to come. Weiner carefully guards scripts, so there have been few clues about season five.

Here is what the audience does know:

The season four finale left characters hurtling toward 1966. And the white-male-dominated world of the mad men -- New York City advertising executives -- is falling to pieces.

The new season will most likely include the usual mixers -- impeccable style, unexpected plot twists and meticulous attention to period details. But one of the most important ingredients -- the time element -- remains a mystery.

It's time to pour "Mad Men" mocktails to predict possible season five plot points.

Drink No. 1: The show's fifth season picks up in early 1966.

Jan. 1: By law, all U.S. cigarette packs have to carry the warning: "Caution! Cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health."

Jan. 1 to 12: Bus and subway service shuts down in New York City for 12 days when unionized employees strike.

April: The Uniform Time Act of 1966 set Daylight Saving Time to begin on the last Sunday of April.

March: In an interview with a London paper, John Lennon compares The Beatles to Jesus; World Trade Center construction begins.

June 30: The National Organization for Women (NOW) is established in Washington, D.C.

Sept. 16: The new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in New York opens with the opera "Antony and Cleopatra."

July 25: Poet Frank O'Hara is killed in a dune buggy accident on Fire Island, New York.

Nov. 8: Former actor Ronald Reagan is elected governor of California.

Dec. 15: Walt Disney dies.

End of the year: American forces in Vietnam reach 385,000 men, plus 60,000 sailors stationed offshore. More than 6,000 Americans have been killed this year and 30,000 have been wounded.

Sources:,,,,,,,, www.panynj.go,

Drink No. 2: The show skips 1966 and the fifth season starts in 1967.

Jan. 27: Three astronauts are killed after their Apollo spacecraft catches fire during a launch simulation.

March 29: The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) call the union's first national strike. It lasts 13 days and affects 100 locations across the country. An agreement is reached right before the Academy Awards broadcast.

April 9: The first Boeing 737 (100 series) takes its maiden flight.

April 15: Spring Mobilization to End the War starts. More than 400,000 march in protest of the Vietnam War from Central Park in New York to the United Nations building. Protests occur in San Francisco and other U.S. cities throughout the year.

Summer: Race riots break out in Newark, N.J.; Detroit; Milwaukee; Minneapolis; Washington, D.C; and other U.S. cities. Thousands of young people flock to San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district to join the hippie movement.

Nov. 29: U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara announces his resignation after President Lyndon B. Johnson rejects his proposal earlier that month to freeze troop levels, stop bombing North Vietnam and hand over ground fighting to South Vietnam.

Dec. 12: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," a movie about an interracial relationship, is released. It stars Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, who wins an Oscar for her role in the film, and Spencer Tracy, who died six months before the film's release.


If you watch

What: "Mad Men" season five premiere

When: 9 p.m. Sunday

Where: AMC

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"Mad Men" timeline:

Season 1 (Early 1960 through Thanksgiving of that year)

Cultural touchstones worked into the show:

The Billy Wilder film "The Apartment" is released.

John F. Kennedy defeats Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election.

Season 2 (The show skips ahead 14 months, bypassing 1961. This season runs Valentine's Day 1962 to fall 1962)

Cultural touchstones worked into the show:

John Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth.

The CBS television series "The Defenders" airs the controversial episode that deals with abortion.

Marilyn Monroe dies.

America finds itself on the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Season 3 (Spring 1963 to Christmas of that year)

Cultural touchstones worked into the show:

The film "Bye Bye Birdie" starring Ann-Margret is released.

Civil rights activist Medgar Evers is murdered.

A total eclipse of the sun occurs.

Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas.

Season 4: (November 1964 to late summer/fall 1965)

The Beatles' play a concert at Shea Stadium in New York City.

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