El Presidente Cocktail

Today on Presidents Day we offer you a cocktail classic. This drink surfaced in the late 1920’s and most likely came from American bartender Eddie Woelke working at the Jockey Club in Havana.  Now though we offer you this on our President’s Day, it was a drink made in honor of Gerardo Machado who ruled Cuba from 1925 to 1933.  The El Presidente was popular in Cuba and made its way to Manhattan where it was the house cocktail at El Chico in the Village.  The recipe is included in Charles Bakers, Gentleman’s Companion, Around the World with Jigger, Beaker and Flask  as the “Habana Presidente” (1939) as well as The Esquire Handbook for Hosts as El Presidente (1949).  Though there are slight variations between the two we offer you the recipe from Esquire below. In doing hands on  research into the cocktail we have established that what makes this drink great is the use of a very specific type of Dolin Blanc de Chambery Vermouth which is lighter and slightly sweeter than most brands and the use of REAL Grenadine.  We also strongly suggest the use of a well-bred Orange Curacao such as Pierre Ferrand.  It goes without saying that the quality of any great cocktail is directly attributed to the quality of its ingredients.   After the recipe we have included the recipe for Grenadine.

Happy Presidents Day!

El Presidente

“The Vanguard of Manhattan cognoscenti has discovered what regulars of El Chico in the Village have known for many a moon: the El Presidente cocktail, is elixir for jaded gullets. Here is how George Stadelman makes it at El Chico.”

Over ice in a tall mixing glass pour:

  • 1 Ounce White Cuban Rum
  • ½ Ounce Orange Curacao
  • ½ Ounce Dry Vermouth
  • Dash of Grenadine

Shake or stir well, then strain into a cocktail glass. (When stirred instead of shaken, it will pour a delightfully clear, deep orange color.) A twist of orange peel may be added.

Real Grenadine Syrup

Grenadine used to be a respectable bar syrup in the days when it was made properly. Today commercial Grenadine Syrup is some sort of artificially colored sugar water with little resemblance to the original and devoid of any redeeming qualities. True Grenadine is  made from Pomegranate’s and has a wonderful range of uses from the best “Kiddie Cocktail” in the world, to being key in classics like the El Presidente Cocktail. The recipe is as follows:

How to Make Real Grenadine

  • 1 Quart Pomegranate Juice
  • 2 cups demurra sugar (plain white will do)
  • 2 Dashes Rose Flower Water (Optional)

Bring Pomegranate Juice and Sugar (Rose Flower Water) to a Boil.  Reduce Heat, Cover and Simmer for 15 Minutes.  Let cool and put into a sealed glass bottle.  Syrup will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.