Saturday, November 3, 2012
Exhibit #120: Presidential Hooch
Martell VSOP cognac, champagne, a dash of absinthe and Angostura bitters in a sugar-crusted glass. One of ur-bartender Jerry Thomas' original cocktails, created for the winning 1856 presidential ticket of Buchanan and Breckenridge while JT was working in San Francisco.
A favorite of JFK. White rum, lime juice, and sugar, up.
FDR Martini $8
2 parts dry gin to 1 part dry vermouth, dashes of absinthe and olive brine, with both a lemon twist and an olive. Being a man who learned to drink well before Prohibition, FDR was not shy with the vermouth, and just as likely to throw in a dash of this or that, or even a bit of grapefruit juice to liven things up.
General Harrison’s Eggnog $8
Strongbow hard cider shaken up with a whole egg and a bit of sugar. During the 1840 election, incumbent Martin van Buren painted Harrison as out of touch and provincial, saying that as president, Harrison would rather sit on his porch and drink cider than attend to the nation's business. This strategy backfired, as plenty of voters saw that as a positive. So the Harrison/Tyler ticket ran with it, even calling their team the "log cabin and cider" ticket, as well as marketing hard cider in log cabin shaped bottles. In Jerry Thomas' 1862 bar manual he describes the drink as "very popular along the Mississippi River...and Harrison's favorite beverage."
Nixon Martini $8
Although Tricky Dick was not able to handle more than one, he did have a great love for the dry martini. He preferred a 7:1 gin/vermouth ratio, shaken hard so that there would be plenty of ice shards in the glass.
Orange Blossom $7
Just as FDR came of age when cocktails were abundant and smartly constructed, Reagan came up during Prohibition. And if there is one drink that says “speakeasy” it’s this one, expressly designed to mask gin of questionable quality: equal parts gin and orange juice, up.
El Presidente $8
Equal parts gold rum (Barrilito 3 star) and dry vermouth, with a bit of orange curacao, up. Recipes for this drink are all over the place, but we are serving it as made by Cuban legend Constantine Ribalgua, the likely author.
Truman Old-Fashioned $10
Not really even a drink, but a good story. On their first night in the White House, Bess Truman ordered a pair of Old-Fashioneds for herself and Harry. The head butler returned with the standard drink - bitters, a little sugar, and whiskey on the rocks, with an orange garnish. Bess sent them back, complaining that they were too sweet. He tried again, but still Bess complained, "the President and I do not care for fruit punch." So the next evening he simply brought them double bourbons on the rocks - to which Bess exclaimed, "now that's the way we like our Old-Fashioneds!" For this we'll use a double pour of Wild Turkey, Truman’s go-to bourbon.