44 Presidential drinks

I plan to open a bottle of champagne today and start celebrating early and I guess I’m not the only one.  I heard a story on NPR yesterday about Jim Hewes the bartender at the Willard Hotel Bar who has researched presidential history and created 44 drinks for our 44 Presidents.  I went looking for the complete list and found it on a Washington Post GOG blog.  So here, courtesy of NPR and the Post are some of those 44 drinks.

The Post points out

Hewes has certainly done his homework. Franklin D. Roosevelt represented by a Plymouth Gin Martini (the first drink he mixed up after the end of Prohibition), while James Garfield’s tipple is a Dewars Scotch, since industrialist Andrew Carnegie sent Garfield a case of Dewars to celebrate his inauguration.

Some of the list is based on conjecture: We don’t really know if Warren Harding ever drank a Seven and Seven, for example, though the mix of Canadian Whiskey and 7-Up was popular in his day. But it’s a fun and delicious trip through the history of drinking in America.

Hewes has even made some non alcoholic drinks for the teetotalers among our Presidents.

43. George W. Bush: Diet cola with a slice of lemon

Light and crisp, able to keep even the busiest Chief Executive, active, alert, and awake.

39. Jimmy Carter: Alcohol-Free Sparkling Wine

Served, much to the dismay of the fourth estate, throughout his four years in the White House.

30. Calvin Coolidge: Cranberry juice and soda

A gentle New England tonic to fortify one’s Puritan constitution.

19. Rutherford B. Hayes: Orange Blossom

Washington’s pressmen spiked the oranges with gin at the tea-totalling Hayes inaugural in 1877.

Jim Hewes of the Willard’s Round Robin Bar distills presidental history into 44 cocktails on his special inauguration menu. (Bill O’Leary/The Post)

Jim Hewes of the Willard’s Round Robin Bar distills presidental history into 44 cocktails on his special inauguration menu. (Bill O’Leary/The Post)

Is this the Coolidge cranberry with lime?  It looks like it might be. However I am much more interested in Cleveland, Madison  and Reagan who served champagne – or the California sparkling. Or in FDR or JFK who drank martinis.  FDR made his with Plymouth gin the way my husband makes mine. Some of the drinks sound pretty bad like James Monroe’s Sherry Cobbler.

According to NPR

The Round Robin Bar in the Willard Hotel is just a stone’s throw from the White House. Bartender Jim Hewes has been serving up drinks there for nearly 30 years.

“I’ve served presidents prior to their going to the White House and after,” he tells Jacki Lyden, host of weekends on All Things Considered, including Presidents Reagan, Ford and both Bushes.

The original Willard Hotel was built in the 19th Century. Abraham Lincoln slept there the night before his inauguration, and President Ulysses S. Grant would enjoy a drink and a cigar in the lobby.

So what about 44?  A blue drink, of course.

44. Barack Obama: Blue Hawaiian

Combines the president’s penchant for aged Tequila and the cool blue waters of the Pacific. Features aged Tequila, Curacao and fresh lime juice.

NPR provides the recipe

Serves One

Patron Silver Tequila, (2 oz.) Blue Curacao (1/2 oz.), lime juice (2 oz.)

-Muddle 3 lime wedges with tequila

-Add ice, Curacao and lime juice

-Shake and strain over crushed ice

-Garnish with a wheel of lime and pineapple

Washington, D.C., bartender Jim Hewes distills presidential history into cocktails.

So today we either celebrate or drown our sorrows.  Look at the complete list published by the Post and pick a drink.

Thank you, Jim Hewes!

Photograph Hewes at the bar Liz Baker/NPR

The Martini

I grew up with parents that drank martinis – made with gin.  I still drink them as does my 91 year old mother.  I love that scene in “The Thin Man” with Nora and the 7 martinis lined up in front of her and Nick  giving the bartender lessons in making the perfect one.  I was very happy to hear this story last weekend on NPR.

Can you imagine James Bond asking for a chocolate butterscotch martini? Or an apple martini, lemon drop martini or prickly pear martini?

Unlikely for the suave superspy.

A martini is certainly more than a drink. It’s long been an embodiment of style and sophistication — and it’s popular again. It’s often served with this sort of unorthodox twist.

Putting a drink in a long-stemmed V-shaped glass does not make it a martini. A martini is this: gin and dry vermouth. And maybe an olive or two. Or a twist of lemon peel. It is ice cold and crystal clear, never green or pink. I don’t begrudge anyone a chocolate-flavored vodka drink. Just don’t call it a martini.

Amen.

Gin Martini at Bombay Club in Washington, D.C.

I’m not quite a purist:  I like mine on the rocks.   And I’m lucky to have married a man who learned to make a martini at the Ritz.  We did invent the “Dice-K” (substitute sake for vermouth) in honor of Daisuke Matsuzaka’s first season as a Red Sox pitcher.  But I still stick with gin – Plymouth gin.