As author Brian Abrams details in his new book, “Party Like a President,” many a president has enjoyed a stiff drink after a long day at the Oval Office. On Presidents’ Day, learn more about the boozy history of some of America’s chief executives.
By the time a Philadelphia distiller appropriately named E.C. Booz began handing out free bottles of his Old Cabin Whiskey at campaign rallies for William Henry Harrison in 1840, American presidents had already established quite an intoxicating history. As author Brian Abrams details in his new book, “Party Like a President: True Tales of Inebriation, Lechery and Mischief from the Oval Office,” George Washington downed four glasses of Madeira every afternoon while his successor, John Adams, hoisted a tankard of hard cider for breakfast every morning.
Franklin Pierce was mocked as the “hero of many a well-fought bottle.” Andrew Johnson displayed the telltale signs of a man who had just slugged three shots of whiskey during his slurring vice presidential inaugural speech in 1865. Even the unassuming Harry Truman threw back an ounce of 100-proof Old Grand-Dad whiskey every morning “to get the engine running.”
Abrams, whose book profiles each president’s vices and includes cocktail recipes from James Monroe’s syllabub to Dwight Eisenhower’s eggnog, found a ranking of presidents by their partying proclivities too difficult a task, but he says there were four commanders-in-chief in particular—a veritable Mount Rushmore of drinkers—who stood out for their love of liquor: