Friday, September 20, 2013

El Presidente, a Prohibition Era Cuban Cocktail

     During the years of American Prohibition, many thing happened in order for Americans to enjoy their tipple.  Some resorted to "moonshining", "rum running" and others just sailed or flew off to Cuba and enjoyed their cocktails where they were legal.    Just 90 miles south of Key West, this was an ideal place to go for all of the fun of "Vegas" and the cocktails that the "American desert" couldn't provide.

    There was a lot of advertising money being put into this idea by Bacardi and Pan American Airways during this time.  It was a perfectly legal method to provide a safe haven for those that enjoyed the fun of a great cocktail and great entertainment during the dry years in America.   Havana was the "Las Vegas" of that era and not only served some of the best cocktails in the world at that time, but offered gambling and extravagant shows as well.

     One of the cocktails that came from the prohibition Era in Cuba was the El Presidente.  This cocktail's origin is basically unknown, but by some it is believed to have been created by and American Barman, Eddie Woelke while working at the Jockey Club in Havana.   It was a tribute to Presidente Gerardo Machado, the ruler of Cuba during the Prohibition years.

     There is a recipe for the El Presidente in a 1935 menu from the La Floridita, this one seems to be the most likely for a cocktail of that era.  In some of the later recipes I've seen the addition of grenadine and a few other items, the cocktails of that era were a bit dryer than that.  Any way here is the one from circa 1935.

El Presidente 
  • 2 oz.  Aged Rum (in those days most likely Bacardi)
  • 1 oz. Dry Vermouth
  • 1/4 oz. Orange Curacao (Cointreau or Grand Marnier good too)
Place all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice and shake until fully chilled. Strain into a chilled Martini Glass an garnish with an orange zest that is squeezed above the glass before being dropped in.

Take a trip back to the prohibition Era and visit Havana vicariously with an El Presidente using the recipe from the era.  ;o)