The pair are breezy yet fact-stuffed books about the various drinking habits of our presidents or, in some cases, their various staff, siblings and hangers-on.
The books are filled with stories such as how George Washington’s farm manager pushed the first president to expand his distillery as a way to make money, or how fellow distiller and president Andrew Jackson paid for some pistols with “whisky…in such quantities as you may think proper.”
The book also calls out William McKinley, who “must have been the drunkest” at a social reception, according to a letter from one attendee to another.
Harry S Truman liked to start his day with a two mile walk followed by a massage…kicking back an ounce or so of bourbon in between, perhaps a way to brace himself for the day ahead.
Then there was the cable to Richard Nixon during his visit to China. International protocol requires partaking in toasts given by the hosts, in this case a spirit called maotai that comes in at about 110 proof and was described as “liquid razor blades.”
Knowing that his boss was a lightweight, the cable emphasized that “…UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD THE PRESIDENT ACTUALLY DRINK FROM HIS GLASS…” when toasting with the liquor.
It’s also rather delightful to read that Jimmy Carter’s mother, Miss Lillian, once showed up at the White House with two six-packs of beer for the Secret Service, who had to decline.
Lots of historical tidbits are strewn among the drinking stories, and each chapter includes a recipe that is either a favorite of that particular president, or created in homage to him.
The books are an easy read – they are easy to dip in and out of – and the recipes a fun way to toast your favorite president as we careen through this election cycle.