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Image: Mad Men
Frank Ockenfels  /  AMC
Why not enjoy a beverage of your own as "Mad Men's" Roger Sterling (John Slattery) and Don Draper (Jon Hamm) relax with their own adult drinks?
By
TODAY contributor
updated 3/22/2011 9:22:42 PM ET 2011-03-23T01:22:42

Some television shows inspire a quest for the perfect cocktail, while others merely drive viewers to drink — anything. No matter which style of prime-time entertainment is preferred, a little pre-show planning can make all the difference when it comes to mixing television with mixed drinks.

Find the right libation for a night of small-screen fun with friends with this guide.

Bottoms up! (But remember: Drink responsibly!)

'Jersey Shore'
Feeling a little left out when you watch the “Jersey Shore” gang have a fist-pumping good time? Having a hard time making sense of Snooki’s appeal? Can’t even begin to grasp what’s going on between Sammi and Ron? Don’t worry! That’s nothing a little show-time cocktail can’t cure.

When the on-screen action turns to talk of “gorilla juiceheads” and “grenades,” just reach for a cool, refreshing glass of GTL (gin, tonic and lemon-lime sports drink). Sure, it’ll taste awful, but bad taste and “Jersey Shore” go hand in hand.

Just remember when shopping for the perfect GTL ingredients, follow this helpful hint: the cheaper, the better.

Warning! Don’t try to match the Seaside Heights crowd drink-for-drink. Any attempts to do so could lead to dirty dancing (à la Deena and the Jersey Turnpike), an arrest (à la Snooki on the beach) or even one regrettable, morning-after fake tan (à la everyone but Vinnie).

'The Amazing Race'
For those who prefer their booze with a high-brow reality-TV offering, there’s “The Amazing Race” Detour Drinking Game. Get ready, “Race” fans. This one takes a little preparation.

Start off by checking the TV listings to learn where the next leg of the race takes place. Then pick two drinks with a theme ingredient associated with the upcoming locale. Sake blends would work for Japan. Maybe some vodka-based beverages when the game goes to Russia. And of course, ouza cocktails wouldn’t go amiss for Greece.

From there, the Detour Drinking Game gets easy. Make one drink thoroughly appealing but barely thirst quenching — a simple shot-glass-worth of a super-tasty cocktail. The other drink should be available in a large enough quantity to make it through the whole show, but made strictly from bottom-shelf booze and bad mixers.

Once “Race” host Phil Keoghan gives contestants their weekly detour task choice, viewers must make their beverage decision. Choose wisely.

Image: Tru Blood drink
amazon.com

'True Blood'
While reality TV and the liquor cabinet seem to go hand in hand, it is possible to enjoy a swig or two to a scripted show, too. In the case of “True Blood,” it’s almost required, considering all the drinking going on on-screen.

Then again, most of those gulps come courtesy of a bottle of Tru Blood or on occasion, something a little livelier. So without a Merlotte’s nearby, what’s a fan to do? Master the perfect, spicy vodka and tomato juice cocktail, aka the Bloody Mary. It’s red, it’s hot and if you happen to be a messy drinker — like say, Bill, Eric and every other vamp on the bayou — you’ll fit right in.

Anyone daring to create a “True Blood” drinking game wherein one gulps every time Bill rumbles out a breathy “Sook-eh” might want to consider switching to vodka-free Virgin Marys.

'America's Next Top Model'
Break out the strong stuff! It’s time for “America’s Next Top Model,” otherwise known as “Drinking for Comprehensive.”

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Most regular “Top Model” viewers are bound to find this recommendation redundant, as they’ve long since found the perfect concoction to help the somewhat surreal competition make some sense. But for the newbies out there who still haven’t found what to sip while contemplating flaming models and pre-Gaga meat bikinis, it’s time to reach for the Mind Erasers. Yes, equal parts vodka, coffee liqueur and club soda (club soda totally optional) will make the most of any wacky challenge Tyra Banks can think up.

'Mad Men'
Don’t like to drink alone? No one ever drinks alone when watching “Mad Men.” The not-quite-swinging '60s characters are rarely seen without a half-filled glass of some delight in hand. For those with little experience with classic cocktails, just follow Don Draper’s lead.

The troubled exec likes to stick to the tried and true, so it’s all about the simple old fashioned. Bitters, sugar, bourbon (or as Don demonstrated in the past, rye will do in a pinch) and a fruit salad garnish of cherry, orange and lemon are all you need to copycat the ad copy man.

Story: Don't expect new 'Mad Men' by summer

'Teen Mom' / 'Kate Plus 8' / '19 Kids and Counting'
Until the medical community teams up with the liquor trade and perfects a contraceptive cocktail, the bevy of baby- and big-family-related shows on television are best watched stone-cold sober. After all, there’s nothing like alcohol to make Kate Gosselin’s maternal methods look fun, Amber Portwood’s bad decisions appear wise and the Duggar family’s numbers seem downright sensible.

In other words, Shirley Temples all around!

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'Project Runway'
If the last season of “Project Runway” taught fans anything, it’s that if the judges are going to booze it up, maybe the rest of us should, too.

OK, so there’s no proof the judges actually drank on the job during season eight, other than the fact that they gave Gretchen Jones the win. (Tim Gunn chalked that up to “crack smoking” rather than hitting the bottle.) But still, the next time a would-be Mondo Guerra is sent packing, it wouldn’t hurt to have a fitting, tasteful and fashion-forward drink at the ready.

Rather than go to the trouble of preparing a recipe that could be woefully out of style by the time it’s needed, simply gather an assortment of top-shelf staples and “make it work.”

'The Real Housewives of' anywhere
The truth is, when it comes to pairing refreshments with any version of “The Real Housewives,” it isn’t so much about the drink itself as it is about the vessel it’s served in. From D.C. to the O.C. and all points in between, the women in front of the cameras use their over-sized wine goblets and enormous cocktail glasses as if they were simply extensions of their arms. Want in on the fun? Just pretend to be part of the action while the “Real” women do their thing.

Time to call someone out on her hater behavior? Swoop a glass of anything in her general direction as you point her out for your pals. Ready to get into a heated debate about parenting, life in the music biz or some super-secret family scandal? There’s no better time to make grand gestures with a jumbo martini glass.

There’s really only one rule to follow: Don’t spill a drop of whatever is in the glass. After all, those who want to communicate via cocktail, like the pros, still have to keep their drinks sip-ready.

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Reruns of 'Two and a Half Men'
Assuming you’re fresh out of Tiger Blood but still on the lookout for something to help wash away the bitter aftertaste that comes from Charlie Sheen’s recent “Two and a Half Men” departure, this Rerun Rusty Nail could be just what the indefinite hiatus ordered.

Just pour one-part scotch into an ice-filled, old-fashioned glass. Add to that ½ part Drambuie, a twist of lemon and the tears of a disappointed fan.

If you have trouble finding that last ingredient, chances are you aren’t in need of a “Two and a Half Men” tipple.

Report: CBS bigwig wants Sheen back

Ree Hines is keeping her top-secret “Dancing With the Stars’” sambuca samba to herself. Follow @ReeHines on Twitter and tell her all about your favorite boob-tube beverages.

Want the latest television and reality TV news? Follow our blog The Clicker on Twitter @TODAY_Clicker.

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