The presidency is the most coveted job in national politics but it takes a toll on the hairline, laugh lines and party lines of those who hold its auspicious office. It’s no stretch to imagine the leader of the free world partaking in a strong cocktail after hours. Presidents have been drinking at the White House since the first cornerstone was laid in 1792. If walls could talk, y’all. So, let us all prepare ourselves for the election with one of these five presidential drinks.
No. 4 James Madison – Champagne
Our nation’s fourth president had to watch the capital city and his temporary home burn to the ground on August 24, 1814, as British forces advanced on Washington. It was a blow to the young democracy and to Madison’s ego but he and the country soon recovered. Madison was a scholarly, socially awkward man with a love for fine Champagne and books rather than lavish parties and political shouting matches. While the Champagne cocktail wasn’t a thing yet, we feel this learned president would be fine doctoring up his Champs with a sugar cube soaked in bitters. Head to Bread & Butterfly where oenophiles will find a grande list of French Champagne and sparkling wines to sip. You’d do well to order the off-menu Champagne cocktail here to celebrate or mourn your candidate winning or losing.
Bread & Butterfly, 290 Elizabeth St. NE, Atlanta. 678-515-4536, bread-and-butterfly.com.
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No. 26 Teddy Roosevelt – mint julep
Bully for us Southerners because our 26th president, Teddy Roosevelt, loved mint juleps. He loved them so much he used the frosty whiskey concoction to lure cabinet members to the tennis court, playing hooky with mid-afternoon volleys. While we love whiskey and the traditional julep, we suggest sipping on the Bastille at Kimball House’s new weekend cocktail joint Bonanza . Only open on Friday and Saturdays, this speakeasy-like room serves up its own list of tipples and feels like an exclusive members-only club where President Roosevelt himself might have frequented to regale his audience with tales of his Rough Rider days. Nothing spells freedom from the oppressive Atlanta heat like sucking down a Bastille: a bitter lover’s julep with cognac, pineapple, lemon, fresh catmint and absinthe and Suze liqueur to bump up the booze factor.
Kimball House, 303 East Howard Ave., Decatur. 404-378-3502, kimball-house.com.
No. 33 Harry Truman – Old-Fashioned
Harry Truman was a president after our own heart. Described as an “everyman,” our 33rd commander-in-chief was a big bourbon fan who loved sipping on 100-proof Old Grand-Dad each morning “to get the engine running” before he headed off to work. After the day was done, however, he and his wife, Bess, would sit down for an Old-Fashioned before dinner to catch up. A formidable team, the Truman’s liked their OFs strong, without much sugar and absolutely no fruit.
The Trumans would definitely find the Old- Fashioned on draft at the Pinewood in Decatur to be one of the best and booziest in town. And with the shelves full of brown water lining the Pinewood's back bar, we’re certain President Truman would have found something strong enough to suit his love of high octane whiskey.
Pinewood Tippling Room, 254 West Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. 404-373-5507, pinewoodtr.com.
No. 40 Ronald Reagan - orange blossom
Ronald Reagan was no stranger to the spotlight, having spent nearly 35 years on camera during Hollywood’s golden age before retiring from acting to enter the political arena in 1965. Reagan spent his formative years acting and hanging with Hollywood’s elite, sipping cocktails in some of the swankiest bars in town. His drink of choice? The Prohibition-era orange blossom made with gin, sweet vermouth and orange juice. It’s said our 40th president preferred his with vodka and continued to sipped on them well into his White House days. Given Mr. Reagan’s movie star background, we suggest that you ask the capable bartenders at the ultra swanky St. Regis Bar in Buckhead to concoct an orange blossom cocktail for you . Dress to impress here, and prepare to people-watch as you might spot a celebrity or two in a dark corner.
St. Regis Bar, 88 West Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta. stregisatlanta.com/the-st-regis-bar
No. 42 Bill Clinton - snakebite
Leave it to Oxford-educated President Clinton to mix up a little bit of Americana with the British pub classic the snakebite. This half-and-half cocktail of hard cider (preferably dry English cider) and lager beer is said to be “illegal” in the British Isles due to the alleged “lethal” combination rendering folks sloppy drunk. While technically it’s not illegal (nor excessively boozy), one pub across the pond famously refused to serve the president his beertail stating its questionable legality. For a proper British experience and a solid snakebite, head to The Manchester Arms in College Park where the ale flows, soccer is on TV and the pub fare is served in sizable portions.
The Manchester Arms, 1705 Virginia Ave., Atlanta. 404-763-9980, themanchesterarms.com.