The Complete History of Presidential Drinking from 1789 to Today

 In Blog

Now that the 2016 Republican National Convention and Democrat National Convention are both in the books, it’s time to look back at some important Presidential history. We are not going to look at a particular issue or how they voted, no, we are going to look at something really important – What adult beverage does each President like to imbibe in. Finally, we are going to talk about real issues.

There’s a lot of fermenting and distilling ground to cover in our nation’s nearly quarter millennium but thankfully, someone’s already done the work for us. Thanks to Mark Will-Weber’s book, Mint Juleps with Teddy Roosevelt: The Complete History of Presidential Drinking there’s a great resource to turn to find out the truth about each president. You may be surprised at who was a teetotaler and who had a bit too much tee.

Stay Informed: Sign up here for the Distillery Trail free email newsletter and be the first to get all the latest news, trends, job listings and events in your inbox.

The Complete History of Presidential DrinkingWill-Weber’s book actually goes beyond beverages and takes us on a stroll through our country’s memorable moments—from George Washington at Mount Vernon to the days of Prohibition, from impeachment hearings to nuclear weapons negotiations—and discover the role that alcohol played in all of them.

The book enlightens us on important issues like,

  • Which Founding Fathers had distilleries in their backyards (We certainly know our founding father had a distillery because it was recently rebuilt.)
  • Which American president (an Ivy League professor, no less) had his own namesake whiskey
  • The teetotalers vs. the car-totallers among U.S. presidents
  • The preferred presidential stemware: snifter or stein?
  • Why Ike made gin in a bathtub
  • Which president’s expensive tastes in alcohol led him into bankruptcy
  • The 4 Cs: Cointreau, claret, Campari, and cocktails
  • Who in the White House abstained, imbibed, or overindulged during Prohibition

Whether you lean left, right or are a steadfast independent I think we can all agree, its 5 o’clock somewhere. Sit back, grab the cocktail of your choice and learn what the first five and the most recent five president indulge(d) in. The actual book includes details on all 44 Presidents.


The First Five Presidents


No. 1 – George Washington

1 George Washington

Preferred Drink: Dark Porter
Date of Birth: February 22, 1732
Birthplace: Westmoreland County, Virginia
Party Affiliation: Independent

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.

No. 2 – John Adams

2 John Adams

Preferred Drink: Hard Cider
Date of Birth: October 30, 1735
Birthplace: Braintree, Massachusetts
Party Affiliation: Federalist Party

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 also drank “porter beer, rum and copious amounts of Madeira.”

No. 3 – Thomas Jefferson

3 Thomas Jefferson

Preferred Drink: Wine
Date of Birth: April 12, 1743
Birthplace: Shadwell, Virginia
Party Affiliation: Democratic-Republican Party

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

No. 4 – James Madison

4 James Madison

Preferred Drink: Champagne
Date of Birth: March 16, 1751
Birthplace: Port Conway, Virginia
Party Affiliation: Democratic-Republican Party

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.”

No. 5 – James Monroe

5 James Monroe

Preferred Drink: French Red Wine
Date of Birth: April 28, 1758
Birthplace: Westmoreland County, Virginia
Party Affiliation: Democratic-Republican Party

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. “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.” Hmm, looks like $500 hammers are not a modern invention.


The Five Most Recent Presidents


No. 41 – George H. W. Bush

41 George H. W. Bush

Preferred Drink: Beer, Vodka Martinis
Date of Birth: June 12, 1924
Birthplace: Milton, Massachusetts
Party Affiliation: Republican Party

Former President George H. W. Bush drank a bit of everything. “He often went for vodka martinis and beer.”

No. 39 – Jimmy Carter

39 Jimmy Carter

Preferred Drink: White Wine
Date of Birth: October 1, 1924
Birthplace: Plains, Georgia
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party

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

No. 40 – Ronald Reagan

40 Ronald Reagan

Preferred Drink: Wine
Date of Birth: February 6, 1911
Birthplace: Tampico, Illinois
Party Affiliation Republican Party

While living a life in Hollywood, Reagan developed a taste for California wines and “an occasional Orange Blossom Special made with vodka.”

No. 42 – Bill Clinton

42 Bill Clinton

Preferred Drink: Snakebite
Date of Birth: August 19, 1946
Birthplace: Hope, Arkansas
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party

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

No. 43 – George W. Bush

43 George W. Bush

Preferred Drink: Diet Cola
Date of Birth: July 6, 1946
Birthplace: New Haven, Connecticut
Party Affiliation: Republican Party

George W. Bush quit drinking before he made it to the oval office. Instead of booze, Bush preferred to drink soda and other non-alcoholic beverages as president.

No. 44 – Barack Obama

44 Barak Obama

Preferred Drink: Beer
Date of Birth: August 4, 1961
Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party

There are plenty of pictures of President Obama indulging in a cold beer. You may even remember a beer summit along the way. We are all still waiting on a date for the Bourbon Summit.

The Complete History of Presidential DrinkingI hope this wets your appetite for presidential history. If you would like to get the complete story, you can order your own copy of Mark Will-Weber’s book, Mint Juleps with Teddy Roosevelt: The Complete History of Presidential Drinking here.

Please help to support Distillery Trail. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.

Share Your Opinion

Recommended Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text.

Start typing and press Enter to search