President’s Day Cocktails

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Since moving to the United States from Britain I have discovered that Thanksgiving means eating turkey, Independence Day is celebrated with lavish fireworks displays paid for by department stores and Easter is an excuse to eat lots of chocolate eggs. However, I haven’t found anyone that can tell me how to celebrate Presidents’ Day.

The holiday, of course, commemorates the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. On a recent visit to Mount Vernon, Washington’s Virginia estate, I discovered that he had a taste for fine punches and distilled his own whiskey. He may have been the country’s first commander in chief drinker—but not the last.

Franklin Roosevelt guzzled Martinis, Richard Nixon drank Cuba Libres (you have to love the irony) and Gerald Ford enjoyed the odd Gin & Tonic. Woodrow Wilson, president during the enactment of Prohibition, stashed away supplies so that he could mix his favorite libations in secret while the rest of the nation settled for bathtub gin and moonshine.

I think it’s fair to say that the proper way to celebrate Presidents’ Day (and the long weekend) is with cocktails. Here are a couple of historic drinks to get you started. Cheers!


Roosevelt Cocktail

Contributed by: Simon Ford



Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.


Lincoln Club Cooler

Contributed by: Simon Ford



Add the rum and ginger ale to a highball filled with ice.

(This recipe is adapted from Modern American Drinks by George J. Kappeler, published in 1895.)

The President

Contributed by: Simon Ford


  • 1.5 oz Dark rum (Atlantico)
  • .75 oz Orange Curacao
  • .75 oz Dry vermouth
  • Dash Grenadine
  • Glass: Cocktail


Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

(This recipe is adapted from The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock, published in 1930. The drink is also known as the El Presidente.)


Simon Ford is an award-winning bartender and director of trade outreach and brand education for Pernod Ricard USA. He is also a advisor.

Series & Type: History
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  • Michael Kostin posted 8 years ago

    Great article, Simon.

    Up in Seattle, WA instead of celebrating Presidents Day, we celebrate Jerry Thomas Day. Although Jerry Thomas was never a president, he is looked at as being our (bartenders) founding father. We Seattle craft bartenders get together (usually at Vessel) for a night of drinking classic craft cocktails, and the evening culminates in all the bartenders present mixing Blue Blazers simultaneously.

    The following is a link to a video from last year's Jerry Thomas Night showing five Blue Blazers being made at the same time behind the bar at Vessel.

    Perhaps next year you will be able to join us here in Seattle for Jerry Thomas Day.


  • Benny posted 8 years ago


    you are definitely missing something there. Simon was merely stating what OTHER holidays are associated with. Thanksgiving is a holiday..see how that works? As for the whole "somebody doesnt get out much" sentiment, couldnt be more wrong. I know Simon fairly well and consider him a dear friend of mine. His career IS traveling. Not only our country but many, many others, the ENTIRE year. Id be willing to wager he spends less nights IN than most people spend OUT.

    I found the article entertaining and informative. Thanks Simon! That Roosevelt Cocktail looks tasty, might have to make one and watch the snow fall.

    Happy President's Day people. Drink good spirits and always drink responsibly.

  • gloria stern posted 8 years ago

    hats off to you sir simon... this short article showcase your other gift!

    we need to get a house that serve up all your executive cocktails, can't wait.

  • Best Jobs Abroad posted 8 years ago

    I think i agree with you.

  • Chukwuka posted 8 years ago

    I very much agree with you brother.

  • Terry B. posted 8 years ago

    Am I missing something here,or what? Thanksgiving was in November,so I really don't get this article,at all.England isn't the only place that makes cocktails!!!Somebody doesn't get out much,it seems to me here.Welcome to the USA,we have all the different kinds you could possibly want.Depends where you are at,in this country.Many different styles,tastes,ingrediants used.Good Lord,what "trips your trigger".So,get out,experience the good life,and,enjoy your favorite cocktail.Hey,be safe,drive sober,and,HAVE FUN.From your neighbor in Tucson,Arizona.

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