What better way to celebrate the birth of our first president than to raise a glass in their honor? Just like us, our presidents had different libation dispositions, and so below we share with you a list of every president's favorite beverage, so that you've got a full selection of ways to wet your whistle.
The drink list below is courtesy of journalist Mark Will-Weber's book, “Mint Juleps with Teddy Roosevelt: The Complete History of Presidential Drinking” (Regnery).
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Washington sold whiskey (made near Mount Vernon), but he probably rarely, if ever, drank it. The formula was about 60% rye, 3% corn and a very meager amount of malted barley. As for his favorite drink — he loved dark porter (laced with molasses) that was made in Philadelphia.
A lover of alcohol, Adams started almost every morning with a hard cider. Then porter beer, rum and lots of Madeira.
Jefferson’s love of wine almost brought him to the brink of financial ruin.
Champagne may have been among his favorites, but he once advised guests that it “was the most delightful wine when drank in moderation, but that more than a few glasses always produced a headache the next day.”
A small scandal occurred during Monroe’s stint in the Executive Mansion when 1,200 bottles of Burgundy and Champagne from France were charged to an account that Congress had earmarked for furniture.
John Quincy Adams
There are some claims that JQA once conducted a blind taste test of 14 different kinds of Madeira and correctly identified 11 of them.
When he wasn’t fighting Indians or the British, the Hero of New Orleans made and sold whiskey. He offered and drank whiskey as a matter of social routine when guests visited him.
Martin Van Buren
Drank so much whiskey that it earned him a nickname, “Blue Whiskey Van.” He also enjoyed something called Schiedam (a gin-like Dutch specialty unique to New York’s Hudson River Valley).
William Henry Harrison
“Old Tipp” rode to the White House on the strength of the “Long Cabin and Hard Cider” campaign in 1840.
In a letter to his daughter, Tyler recorded a dinner visit to President and Mrs. Madison, noting: “They have good drink . . . Champagne . . . of which you know I am very fond.”
James K. Polk
Polk drank modest amounts of wine, Champagne, and brandy.
During the Mexican War, a political aide reportedly visited to inform Taylor that the Whig party wished to nominate him for president. Taylor allegedly replied: “Stop your nonsense and drink your whiskey!”
Fillmore rarely drank wine or served it to others. However, he once admitted to sampling enough old Madeira that he was “slightly fuddled.”
Pierce drank a lot of everything and died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 65. When Democrats failed to support him for re-election in 1856, he allegedly said: “What can an ex-president of the United States do except get drunk?”
A friend of his once wrote: “The Madeira and sherry that he has consumed would fill more than one old cellar.”
One of our driest presidents, he rarely if ever drank.
Lincoln and other political big shots were appalled when Johnson showed up loaded (and slurring his words) for his vice presidential inauguration in 1865; he had tried to treat a cold with whiskey.
Ulysses S. Grant
When Grant did drink, he did not do it well. He reportedly suffered from low tolerance. In office, one of Grant’s White House entertaining bills included $1,800 for Champagne alone.
Rutherford B. Hayes
His wife, “Lemonade Lucy,” pushed for a no-booze White House. Staffers sympathetic to visitors that might want some alcohol tried to infuse some oranges in the punch with rum — but Hayes claims to have discovered the ploy and substituted rum flavoring for the real stuff!
A friend of Garfield’s — Thomas Donaldson — once noted in his diary that: “Garfield . . . liked beer and drank but little else.”
Chester A. Arthur
When a representative of the Temperance movement tried to pressure Arthur into a no-liquor policy in the White House, he thundered: “Madam, I may be the president of the United States, but what I do with my private life is my own damned business!”
Grover mostly drank beer, and lots of it. He and a fellow politician once took a vow to hold themselves to four beers a day. When they found this too arduous a task, they simply switched to larger beer steins.
Benjamin leaned more toward God than Demon Alcohol.
A drink popular during his election campaign was called McKinley’s Delight:
3 oz. rye whiskey (shoot for at least 100 proof)
1 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes of cherry brandy
1 dash absinthe
Teddy liked Mint Juleps and used them to entice his cabinet to come play tennis with him at the White House. He used fresh mint from the White House garden:
10 to 12 fresh mint leaves “muddled” with a splash of water and a sugar cube
2 or 3 oz. of rye whiskey
¼ oz. of brandy
Sprig or two of fresh mint as a garnish
William Howard Taft
Because of his size, people might assume the 300-pound-plus Taft drank a lot. He did not, especially when he was in the White House and was trying to lose weight. He did, on occasion, celebrate with a glass of Champagne.
Wilson loved Scotch. His campaign song — “Wilson! That’s All!” — actually came from a brand of whiskey that was popular early in the 20th century.
Warren G. Harding
Even though Harding was president during Prohibition — and it was unlawful to transport liquor — he habitually stashed a bottle of whiskey in his golf bag and thought nothing of taking a pop before he teed up. (He rarely broke 100, so that might explain it.)
“Silent Cal” drank very little, but he was very fond of Tokay wine. The Coolidge Cooler was concocted by Vermont Spirits on Cal’s birthday:
1.5 oz. of Vermont White vodka
½ oz. of American whiskey
2 oz. of orange juice
Hoover supposedly had a fantastic wine collection, but his wife allegedly dumped it down the drain when Prohibition hit. While suffering from pneumonia at the age of 80, he did have one request — a good, dry martini.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
FDR is most associated with cocktails. He enjoyed mixing gin-based martinis (and occasionally whiskey-based Manhattans). His favorite thing to sip while sailing was the Bermuda Rum Swizzle:
2 oz. dark rum
1 oz. lime juice
1 oz. orange juice
1 generous dash of Falernum (a sweet syrup)
Truman loved bourbon - often in the morning as part of his routine that also involved a brisk walk and a rubdown. He also liked a very strong Old Fashioned and would complain if his staff made it too weak.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Because of several heart attacks (probably due to his habitual chain-smoking), Ike was limited to just a few drinks by his doctor. He typically chose Scotch, and sometimes would overrule his doctor and have a second one.
John F. Kennedy
JFK drank lots of different beverages, but some of the favorites included daiquiris, Bloody Marys, and (considered at the time a big deal because it was imported) Heineken beer.
Lyndon B. Johnson
LBJ loved Scotch whiskey and enjoyed driving (at high speeds) around his Texas ranch while drinking it out of a plastic cup.
Nixon would drink expensive bottles of Chateau Lafite Rothschild (costing hundreds of dollars); at the same time, he instructed his staff to serve mediocre red wine to his guests — with towels wrapped around the bottle’s label so they did not know what they were getting.
Ford grew accustomed to a few martinis, sometimes even at lunch, when he was in the House of Representatives. When he became president in the aftermath of Watergate, Ford’s staff had to suggest he cut back.
Carter drank very sparingly. When he had an arms summit with Soviet leaders, Carter arranged to get a very small glass of white wine for the obligatory toasts — so he could avoid downing powerful Russian vodka.
Reagan liked California wines and an occasional Orange Blossom Special made with vodka:
1 oz. (or slightly less in Reagan’s case) vodka.
1 oz. of either grenadine or sweet vermouth
2 oz. fresh orange juice
George H. W. Bush
H.W. drank a little bit of everything, including beer and vodka martinis.
As a scholar at Oxford, Clinton reportedly indulged in the Snakebite:
8 oz. hard cider
8 oz. lager beer
(Add ¼ oz. black currant liqueur for a Snakebite variation the Brits
George W. Bush
Bush “retired” from drinking years before he became president.
Obama was a lover of a cold mug of beer and offered up a White House Honey Ale to with honey from the White House hives for special guests.
Our current president does not indulge in alcohol, and instead keeps it classy with Lays potato chips.