Every U.S. president’s favorite drink

The following information is provided by Graphiq and InsideGov.

by Ben Leibowitz

In preparation for President’s Day, the folks at UnderTheLabel and InsideGov teamed up to find out the favorite alcoholic drink of every U.S. president in history.

Thanks to journalist Mark Will-Weber’s book, “Mint Juleps with Teddy Roosevelt: The Complete History of Presidential Drinking,” and article for the New York Post, we have a reliable source pegging each president’s drink of choice. (We’ll be citing Will-Weber throughout.)

Not every president had strong ties to an alcoholic beverage — in fact, one actually pushed for a dry White House during his time in office — but the majority of U.S. presidents seemed to have an affinity toward booze.

When you see how the stresses of being commander in chief aged President Barack Obama, it’s no surprise many presidents needed a stiff drink at the end (or beginning) of the day.

#1. George Washington

Preferred Drink: Dark Porter

According to Will-Weber, “Washington sold whiskey (made near Mount Vernon), but he probably rarely, if ever, drank it.”

Rather than the hard stuff, the first president of the United States loved dark porter beer, which he would lace with molasses.

#2. John Adams

Preferred Drink: Hard Cider

By all accounts, the second president of the U.S. loved his alcohol. In fact, he started “almost every morning with a hard cider,” per Will-Weber.

Adams, who was portrayed by actor Paul Giamatti in an HBO mini-series, also drank “porter beer, rum and copious amounts of Madeira.”

#3. Thomas Jefferson

Preferred Drink: Wine

According to Monticello.org, Thomas Jefferson said in 1818 that “in nothing have the habits of the palate more decisive influence than in our relish of wines.” The site also states that Jefferson developed a taste for fine wines in his younger years when visiting vineyards in Burgundy and Bordeaux (France).

Of course, Jefferson’s love of expensive wines (and large purchases of said wines) brought him “to the brink of financial ruin,” according to Will-Weber. Always drink in moderation, folks.

#4. James Madison

Preferred Drink: Champagne

Per Will-Weber’s book, James Madison once said champagne “was the most delightful wine when drank in moderation, but that more than a few glasses always produced a headache the next day.”

Tell us something we don’t know.

#5. James Monroe

Preferred Drink: French Red Wine

James Monroe was a big fan of French wine, like Jefferson. Monroe preferred red wine and champagne, a thirst that got him into some trouble, per Will-Weber: “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.”

But haven’t we all spent our furniture budget on booze before? Honest mistake.

#6. John Quincy Adams

Preferred Drink: Spanish Madeira

John Quincy Adams not only enjoyed drinking Madeira (a style of Portuguese wine produced in the Madeira Islands), he also evidently held a pristine knowledge of different kinds as well.

“There are some claims that JQA once conducted a blind taste test of 14 different kinds of Madeira and correctly identified 11 of them,” Will-Weber wrote.

So just try channeling the sixth U.S. president next time you’re out tasting.

#7. Andrew Jackson

Preferred Drink: Whiskey

One of the most polarizing presidents in history, Andrew Jackson made, sold and, of course, drank whiskey.

#8. Martin Van Buren

Preferred Drink: Whiskey

Like his predecessor in the Oval Office, Martin Van Buren had an affinity toward whiskey. So much so, in fact, that he actually earned the nickname “Blue Whiskey Van,” according to Will-Weber.

#9. William Henry Harrison

Preferred Drink: Hard Cider

According to history.com, a pro-Democrat newspaper mocked William Henry Harrison back in 1840 by claiming he was too old to be president. The paper said, “Give him a barrel of hard [alcoholic] cider, and… a pension of two thousand [dollars] a year… and… he will sit the remainder of his days in a log cabin.”

Harrison, a member of the Whig Party, used this smear attempt to mount a “log cabin campaign,” which essentially embraced the statement and positioned “Old Tip” as a common man who enjoyed drinking and relaxing. It probably didn’t hurt that his opponent, Martin Van Buren, was unpopular at the time and seen as elite.

Harrison won the election, but developed pneumonia after delivering the longest inaugural address in history. He never recovered and died just one month into his term — the shortest ever for a U.S. president.

#10. John Tyler

Preferred Drink: Champagne

According to Will-Weber, John Tyler was “very fond” of champagne and wrote as much in a letter to his daughter.

#11. James K. Polk

Preferred Drink: Wine

James K. Polk was not a heavy drinker, but he did enjoy wine, champagne and brandy, per Will-Weber.

#12. Zachary Taylor

Preferred Drink: Whiskey

Will-Weber wrote the following of Zachary Taylor: “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!'”

This is a man who had his priorities in order.

#13. Millard Fillmore

Preferred Drink: Madeira

Millard Fillmore was apparently a lightweight, per Will-Weber. However, he “once admitted to sampling enough old Madeira that he was ‘slightly fuddled.'”

Feel free to use the term “slightly fuddled” as often as you can moving forward.

#14. Franklin Pierce

Preferred Drink: Everything

Franklin Pierce earned Will-Weber’s nod as the drunkest president in American history. According to the writer, Pierce “drank a lot of everything” and once said after leaving office, “What can an ex-president of the United States do except get drunk?”

He died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 65.

#15. James Buchanan

Preferred Drink: Sherry

As the president who preceded Abraham Lincoln, James Buchanan’s historical standing was perhaps always doomed to be cast in a negative light. Of course, his decision to dismiss slavery as an issue that needed to be addressed, among other questionable policies in office, have helped Buchanan consistently be labeled America’s worst president.

As far as his stance on alcohol, Will-Weber wrote that a friend of Buchanan’s once said, “The Madeira and sherry that he has consumed would fill more than one old cellar.”

#16. Abraham Lincoln

Preferred Drink: Water

While Pierce earns the distinction of the drunkest president, Abraham Lincoln was pegged the driest by Will-Weber.

If “Honest Abe” did drink, he did so very rarely.

#17. Andrew Johnson

Preferred Drink: Whiskey

As it turns out, both Andrew Johnson and Andrew Jackson both enjoyed whiskey above other alcoholic drinks.

#18. Ulysses S. Grant

Preferred Drink: Champagne

Like Fillmore, Ulysses S. Grant was labeled a lightweight drinker by Will-Weber. That doesn’t exactly fit the stereotype of a gruff war general — though other sources note he was an avid drinker during his days as a general — but evidently Grant had low drinking tolerance by the time he got to the Oval Office.

Per Will-Weber’s article, “one of Grant’s White House entertaining bills included $1,800 for champagne alone,” so he certainly wasn’t opposed to celebratory drinks.

#19. Rutherford B. Hayes

Preferred Drink: Non-alcoholic

Rutherford B. Hayes’ wife, Lucy, was a teetotaler — a believer in complete personal abstinence from alcoholic drinks. As such, she banned alcohol and smoking (among other things) from the White House when Hayes was president. She earned the nickname “Lemonade Lucy” for this lifestyle.

According to Will-Weber, “Staffers sympathetic to visitors that might want some alcohol tried to infuse some oranges in the punch with rum,” but Hayes apparently discovered the plot and had staffers substitute rum flavoring instead.

Though Hayes adopted his wife’s personal stance toward alcohol while in office, he was not a teetotaler throughout his entire life.

#20. James Garfield

Preferred Drink: Beer

President James Garfield, unlike other presidents, was a beer man through and through.

Per Will-Weber, “A friend of Garfield’s — Thomas Donaldson — once noted in his diary that: ‘Garfield … liked beer and drank but little else.'”

#21. Chester A. Arthur

Preferred Drink: Ale

In an article by Sam Greenspan for 11points.com, citing John R. Bumgarner’s book “The Health of Presidents,” Greenspan wrote, “Arthur would drink wine and after-dinner liqueurs pretty much nightly.”

Per foodtimeline.org, however, “His favorite meal was a mutton chop with a glass of ale, or a slice of rare roast beef with hot baked potatoes and fruits.”

And, as Will-Weber wrote, when a representative of the Temperance movement pressured Arthur to consider a no-alcohol policy at 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!”

Let’s just say that Arthur enjoyed his alcoholic beverages, and that he would have received a ton of flak on Twitter had it existed in the 1880s.

#22. Grover Cleveland

Preferred Drink: Beer

Grover Cleveland had a strong preference toward beer — drank a lot of it and drank it almost exclusively.

According to Will-Weber, “[Cleveland] and a fellow politician once took a vow to hold themselves to four beers a day.”

Something tells us limiting oneself to four beers per day isn’t the healthiest way to live.

#23. Benjamin Harrison

Preferred Drink: Tea

“Benjamin leaned more toward God than Demon Alcohol,” Will-Weber wrote.

Well, then.

Unlike many presidents before him, Benjamin Harrison stayed away from booze. According to foodtimeline.org, Harrison’s wife’s “homy custom [was] to serve hot clear soup at her White House teas and receptions.”

#24. Grover Cleveland (2nd Term)

Preferred Drink: Beer

Cleveland’s penchant for beer continued into his second term in office.

#25. William McKinley

Preferred Drink: Rye Whiskey

In addition to having an Alaskan mountain named after him — a polarizing topic in the news last year when President Barack Obama re-named the mountain “Denali” to honor Native-American culture — William McKinley also had alcoholic drinks named after him.

Per Will-Weber, one such drink (popular at the time of his election) was called McKinley’s Delight and consisted of the following ingredients:

3 oz. rye whiskey
1 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes of cherry brandy
1 dash absinthe

#26. Theodore Roosevelt

Preferred Drink: Mint Julep

Teddy Roosevelt, the man for which Will-Weber’s book is named, loved Mint Juleps. He even “used them to entice his cabinet to come play tennis with him at the White House.”

Roosevelt used mint from the White House garden to make the drink, which also comes with a recipe:

10 to 12 fresh mint leaves muddled with a splash of water and a sugar cube
2 or 3 oz. of rye whiskey
1/4 oz. of brandy
Sprig or two of fresh mint to garnish

#27. William Howard Taft

Preferred Drink: Champagne

Recognized by many for his rotund physical frame (he tipped the scales at more than 300 pounds), President Taft didn’t have a drinking prowess equal to his size.

Though he would drink champagne occasionally for celebratory purposes, Taft did not drink a lot.

#28. Woodrow Wilson

Preferred Drink: Scotch

Per Will-Weber, “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.”

It’s quite interesting that presidential campaigns were in some cases actually closely tied to alcohol.

#29. Warren G. Harding

Preferred Drink: Whiskey

Warren G. Harding “habitually stashed a bottle of whiskey in his golf bag and thought nothing of taking a pop before he teed up,” according to Will-Weber.

#30. Calvin Coolidge

Preferred Drink: Tokay Wine

Calvin Coolidge was not much of a drinker, “but he was very fond of Tokay wine,” per Will-Weber.

Tokay is a (usually) sweet white wine from the Tokaj district of northeastern Hungary.

#31. Herbert Hoover

Preferred Drink: Wine/Martinis

“Hoover supposedly had a fantastic wine collection,” Will-Weber wrote, “but his wife allegedly dumped it down the drain when Prohibition hit.”

Interestingly, Herbert Hoover called prohibition “The Noble Experiment” during his time as a politician, but asked for “a good, dry martini” while suffering from pneumonia at age 80.

#32. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Preferred Drink: Assorted Cocktails

As the president who signed the Cullen-Harrison Act, bringing about a repeal to prohibition in the United States, perhaps it’s no surprise that Franklin D. Roosevelt enjoyed a good drink from time to time.

Will-Weber notes FDR as the president “most associated with cocktails” and connects him to gin-based martinis, whiskey-based Manhattans as well as Bermuda rum swizzles.

#33. Harry S Truman

Preferred Drink: Bourbon

Unlike many of his predecessors who were more interested in drinking wine and beer, Harry Truman was a fan of the hard stuff.

“Truman loved bourbon and quite often knocked down a shot of it in the morning,” Will-Weber wrote of the wartime president. “He also liked a very strong Old Fashioned and would complain if his staff made it too weak.”

An old fashioned is a cocktail typically made with bourbon or rye whiskey, Angostura bitters, sugar and garnished with a cherry.

#34. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Preferred Drink: Scotch

As Will-Weber noted, Dwight D. Eisenhower was a chain smoker who suffered multiple heart attacks during his life. As a result, “Ike was limited to just a few drinks by his doc,” per Will-Weber.

His drink of choice was scotch.

#35. John F. Kennedy

Preferred Drink: Bloody Mary

Those who enjoy drinking a bloody Mary are probably aware that they can either be delicious or terrible with very little in-between, depending upon where you order one. They have to be done right, and it’s safe to assume JFK only was served the best of the best.

Will-Weber also notes that Kennedy drank a lot of different alcoholic beverages, including daiquiris and Heineken beer (which, he notes, was “considered at the time a big deal because it was imported”).

#36. Lyndon B. Johnson

Preferred Drink: Whiskey/Scotch (Cutty Sark)

President Lyndon B. Johnson has a number of unique drinking stories attached to his legacy. As history.com wrote, “while Senate majority leader, [Johnson] instructed staff to make his scotch and soda significantly weaker than his guest’s so that he could keep a clearer head.”

He also reportedly threw massive, lavish barbeques for dignitaries at his Texas ranch, where he’d drive around with “his Styrofoam cup of Cutty Sark” as his “constant companion.”

#37. Richard M. Nixon

Preferred Drink: Expensive Red Wine

There appears to be yet another reason why Richard Nixon earned his nickname “Tricky Dick.” According to Will-Weber, Nixon would routinely drink expensive bottles of red wine, while simultaneously instructing his staff to serve wines of lesser qualities to his guests.

Will-Weber notes Château Lafite Rothschild as one of the wines Nixon enjoyed. For reference, a bottle of that costs $699, per wine.com.

#38. Gerald R. Ford

Preferred Drink: Martini

President Ford enjoyed drinking martinis so much that he sometimes had multiple at lunch, per Will-Weber.

But when Ford was thrust into the presidency following the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s resignation from office, Ford’s staffers advised he cut back on the drinks.

#39. Jimmy Carter

Preferred Drink: White Wine

Although Jimmy Carter would drink white wine for the occasional toast at events, he was far from an avid drinker, imbibing alcohol only sparingly.

#40. Ronald Reagan

Preferred Drink: Wine

Though Reagan was born and raised in Illinois, he eventually migrated to California on the back of a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers studios.

While living a life in Hollywood, Reagan developed a taste for California wines and “an occasional Orange Blossom Special made with vodka,” per Will-Weber, recipe below:

1 oz. vodka
1 oz. grenadine or sweet vermouth
2 oz. (fresh) orange juice

#41. George H. W. Bush

Preferred Drink: Beer, Vodka Martinis

Former President George H. W. Bush — father to former President George W. Bush and 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush — drank a bit of everything. Per Will-Weber, he often went for vodka martinis and beer.

Most of the Bush family drinking stories are connected to Bush’s oldest son George, who quit drinking before being elected president.

#42. Bill Clinton

Preferred Drink: Snakebite

A snakebite, Bill Clinton’s favorite alcoholic drink, is one part cider and one part lager mixed in equal volumes.

According to a 2001 article in the Harrogate Advertiser, Clinton was refused a snakebite in a bar in the U.K. because it was illegal to serve it there.

#43. George W. Bush

Preferred Drink: Diet Cola

George W. Bush (AKA “Dubya”) hung up his drinking pants before he made it to office. Instead of booze, Bush preferred to drink soda and other non-alcoholic beverages as president.

#44. Barack Obama

Preferred Drink: Beer

There are plenty of pictures of President Obama indulging in a cold beer — even one that evolved into a famous meme.

The abode on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue even features a “White House Honey Ale” for special guests. The beer is brewed using honey from the White House hives, according to Will-Weber.

Discover More About Thousands of Drinks on UnderTheLabel

Learn More About U.S. Presidents on InsideGov

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