Party like Barack Obama or How to Drink Like a President
Wednesdays at Hearth

One of the first things President Obama did when he got into office was throw a bipartisan cocktail party and deem Wednesday night “Cocktail Night”. And why not? I can’t think of a better way to get people to come together than over a cocktail or two. In fact, the cocktail party has been an American tradition since the outset of our history. Celebrating the completion of the US Constitution, the fifty-five drafters racked up a bill for 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, 8 bottles of whiskey, 22 bottles of port, 8 bottles of hard cider, 12 beers and seven bowls of alcohol punch large enough that "ducks could swim in them."

So, let’s celebrate the return of a White House tradition and look forward to the Thursday morning stories about the night before.

Franklin Roosevelt El Presidente (Aged Rum, dry vermouth, Cointreau, grenadine)
Arguably the greatest imbibing President of all time, he was able to repeal Prohibition, while pushing through a little thing called the New Deal, effectively ending the Great Depression. With economic chaos on his plate, FDR held a special congressional session to re-legalize beer, just five days after his inauguration. Upon signing the 21st amendment on December 5, 1933, he stated, "I believe this would be a good time for a beer."

William Howard Taft The Bronx Cocktail (Gin, Sweet & Dry Vermouth, Orange Juice)
The twenty-seventh president got into hot water over the Bronx Cocktail, from the New York Times. Sep 24, 1911:
"One annoying feature of President Taft's journey through the West has been the controversy caused by the presence of Bronx cocktails at a breakfast party he attended. One does not have to be a clergyman or a total abstainer to reprehend the practice of drinking cocktails before breakfast."

Richard M Nixon Mai Tai (Rhum JM gold, Cointreau, Lime, Orgeat)
Oddly, the Mai Tai was the favorite drink of Richard Nixon, a man who was sorely lacking in beach-bum cred. The Washington Trader Vic's was in the basement of what was then the Statler-Hilton, just a couple of blocks from the White House. The president took his wife there for Valentine's Day in 1973. The Vietnam War had been declared over, and it would be a few months yet before the Senate would begin its Watergate hearings. Nixon took the opportunity to enjoy a Mai Tai or two, and, in a clumsy effort at friendliness, he backslapped his way out of the restaurant. Stopping at a crowded table where a fresh round of Mai Tais had just been served, Nixon laughingly delivered a warning: "They're lethal!"

George Washington George Washington (Tutthilltown unaged corn whiskey, soda, pickled baby corn)
Washington's distillery was the largest whiskey distillery in the country during the 18th century, distilling variety of unaged whiskeys, brandy and vinegar. Truth be told, there is no history of Washington drinking the whiskey he produced, he preferred Madeira, but he was a great enabler and always made sure the people around him had plenty of what was available.

Kelley Slagle


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