President’s Day is a day to remember all that this country’s leaders accomplished. But here at FWx it’s also an opportunity to remember something else. Just because someone was the leader of the free world doesn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy a nice cocktail or glass of wine. Here are five drinking stories worthy of the highest office in the land.
1. Grover Cleveland loved beer. A lot.
William Howard Taft might have been so fat he needed a specially built bathtub (which he may or may not have gotten stuck in) but Grover Cleveland was picked by Fitness magazine as the least healthy president of all time and a significant factor in that ranking was Taft’s love of beer. One story goes that during his campaign for Erie County District Attorney he and his opponent made a pact to drink only four glasses of beer a day. But they quickly gave that up when they decided it was too limiting.
2. Teddy Roosevelt defended his honor with mint juleps.
Of all 43 American presidents the one you might expect to be at the head of the class as far as epic drinking escapades goes is Theodore Roosevelt. The man may have dug the Panama Canal with a garden hoe and his bare hands, it certainly seems like he could throw back one or nine. But T.R. actually sued a reporter who printed a story claiming he was often drunk. Under oath Roosevelt testified that he, “never drank a cocktail or highball in my life…I may have drunk half a dozen mint juleps in a year.” We’re not sure exactly how he’s differentiating “cocktails” and mint juleps, but he still won the case.
3. Dwight Eisenhower made his own hooch.
Before he built the interstate highway system or commanded the allied troops in the European theater, Dwight Eisenhower had the bad luck to be a young man during prohibition. He was stationed at Fort Meade in Maryland intermittently between 1919 and 1925 where he made bathtub gin in an actual bathtub. He also happened to be there with General Patton who fancied himself a homebrewer, although at least once he suffered from the classic problem of over-carbonation and his bottles exploded.
4. John Adams started every day with pint.
Nowadays if you’re drinking booze with your first meal of the day it better be Sunday brunch. But it was a different time back in the 1750s. John Adams began almost every day with a tankard of hard cider (the most popular drink at the time) or an occasional beer before going off to do his work building a more perfect union.
5. Nixon hogged the good stuff.
Of all the questionable decisions Richard Nixon made as president, the ones he made as a host should be on the list somewhere between recording all his White House conversations and Watergate. A fan of Château Margaux, Nixon would regularly pour himself glasses of the Bordeaux, which, depending on the vintage can sell for over $1500 a bottle today. He wasn’t much into sharing though. He poured his guests something considerably cheaper.