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This President’s Day, party like a commander in chief

Brian Abrams, author of the new book Susan Watts Brian Abrams, author of the new book “Party Like a President: True Tales of Inebriation, Lechery, and Mischief from the Oval Office.”

Rutherford B. Hayes wanted to hide it from his wife, Theodore Roosevelt denied it in court, and Harry S. Truman got started before the breakfast dishes were cleared.

It’s drinking — and presidents do as much as their countrymen.

So just in time for Presidents Day, Brooklyn journalist Brian Abrams has published the definitive tome on White House hijinx, “Party Like a President: True Tales of Inebriation, Lechery, and Mischief from the Oval Office.”

The book contains stories and, even better, recipes linked to each president.

“It’s way more fun that picking up a textbook and reading about the Kansas-Nebraska Act,” says Abrams.

The tippling tales offer a key insight into how our commanders in chief have wound down after a day’s work as the leader of the free world.

Or during: Harry S. Truman started every day with breakfast, a two-mile walk, and then an ounce of Old Grand-Dad to “get the engine going,” according to Abrams.

When the Trumans moved to the White House, butler Alonzo Fields was instructed to make the president an Old Fashioned. But Harry and Bess kept complaining they were too sweet, so eventually, the recipe was simply bourbon and ice.

Theodore Roosevelt once filed a libel suit against a newspaper that said he got drunk on the job, forcing the president to testify that he never was inebriated in the Oval Office, but sometimes had a spoonful of brandy in milk before bedtime.

Hayes’ wife Lucy banned booze from White House functions, so the presidents’ aides concocted a frozen punch to hide the alcohol — then served it in hollowed-out oranges filled surreptitiously with rum.

Obviously James K. Polk and Zachary Taylor were teetotalers — have you seen their hair? — but who knew that Gerald Ford was gin-soaked? The 38th president required two martinis on virtually every Air Force One flight, Abrams writes.

Some presidents overindulged — Ulysses S. Grant was a renowned lush — but others power-tripped on booze. LBJ was well known for negotiating key legislation over a Scotch — but only after pouring a double portion for the dupe. And even during Prohibition, Warren G. Harding invited cronies over for whiskey.

Bartender Andy Shaner of Maysville in the Flatiron district recently served up some of Abrams’ research:


Recipe: Rutherford B. Hayes’ Spiked Sorbet

1 quart lemon sorbet
4 ounces rum
4 ounces cognac
1 ounce orange liqueur
8 ounces Champagne
4 oranges, sliced in half with fruit scooped out and discarded


Mix the sorbet, rum, cognac, and liqueur in a container and freeze overnight. At serving time, add the Champagne. Pack the frozen mixture into scooped-out oranges.

Recipe: Teddy Roosevelt’s Hot Milk Punch

(From Jerry Thomas’ “Bartenders Guide: How to Mix Drinks”)

2 to 5 ounces hot water
3 ounces whole milk, heated
2 ounces Cognac brandy
1 ounce Santa Cruz rum
Pinch of grated nutmeg


Heat a glass by filling it with the hot water. Let it sit for one minute. Empty the water from the heated glass. Fill it halfway with the hot milk, then add the brandy and rum. Stir. Top with the nutmeg.

Recipe: Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Haitian Libation

1 1/2 ounces orange juice
3 ounces dark rum
1 egg white
Dash brown sugar


Pour the ingredients into a frosted tumbler. Shake and strain into a rocks glass.

Recipe: Harry S. Truman’s Old Fashioned



Pour bourbon over ice.

Lifestyle – NY Daily News

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