Cheers to You, Mr. President: Cocktails for the Commander-in-Chief

obama guinness Charles Dharapak : AP

Barack Obama drinking a Guinness at a pub in Moneygall, Ireland, the hometown of his great-great-great grandfather. Image courtesy of Charles Dharapak/AP.

Presiding over the United States of America is, without a doubt, one of the most grueling jobs in the world. It’d be nice to think that once in a Blue Moon, our presidents have been able to kick back, relax, and enjoy a cocktail or two—all in the name of service, of course. To be certain, the likes of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Barack Obama have all been linked to alcohol at one point or another: it’s the American way! We may not know of their exact orders (besides the fact that they were probably stiff), but we’re nevertheless serving up our very best guesses in honor of Presidents’ Day.

George Washington: It’s no secret that George Washington, like any other True American, enjoyed a more-than-occasional draught of ale, bit of whiskey, or glass of wine in his day. At Mount Vernon, Washington had operated the largest whiskey distillery in the country, for which we should heap upon him a pile of thanks. (Oh, and we suppose we should also be grateful for G.W.’s shaping of our nation into a functional and free entity.) We’d like to picture Washington with an ice-cold glass of American-brewed beer in hand or perhaps with a bit of Portuguese wine called madeira, of which we know he was a fan.

berry lincoln by flickr user lns 1122

Photograph of Berry-Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s general-store-turned-tavern near Springfield, IL. At the time, stores could be licensed to sell and serve alcohol; Berry-Lincoln reportedly served brandies, beers, ciders, and different kinds of hard alcohol. Courtesy of Flickr user lns1122.

Abraham Lincoln: It’s been said that Lincoln didn’t relish in the drink, but we’d like to think he would have indulged in the occasional cocktail, especially one with equal parts of anything. In that spirit, we propose for Lincoln’s consideration the Last Word, which could allude to the sixteenth president’s strength with language. This cocktail features equal amounts of gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice—we think he deserved it, even if it was a Prohibition-era concoction. (Lincoln was way ahead of his time, anyway.) If the Last Word were too potent, the backup plan would be a glass of American-made hard apple cider: it’s honest, straightforward, and not too decadent. Interestingly enough, Lincoln owned a tavern in his earlier years at which he served up apple brandy and various ales; he remains the only U.S. president to have held the title of “bartender.”

DrinkingBoston_Small ThumbBarack Obama: Who could forget the time when Obama visited Ireland and grandly downed a pint of Guinness, that country’s signature dark brew? (Michelle, ever the good sport, sipped on a half pint.) Although the black stuff in question elicited an “I am very impressed” from El Presidente, we don’t necessarily think that Guinness is Obama’s drink of choice. Word on the street is that, while the commander-in-chief has proclaimed himself to be a beer man, his top pick is actually a mixture of Campari, sweet vermouth, and club soda—a concoction aptly dubbed the Americano. It was reportedly available across D.C. throughout Obama’s recent inauguration, and incidentally, it’s also the first drink that James Bond orders in Casino Royale, the opening novel of the series. Cheers to that, Mr. President.

To hear more about America’s long history of imbibing, grab a copy of Drinking Boston: A History of the City and its Spirits, in which you’ll find descriptions of and maybe even a few recipes for madeira, the El Presidente, and various other delicious alcoholic beverages.

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