Recipe: El Presidente

Recipe: El Presidente

The daiquiri may be considered the classic rum cocktail, but the El Presidente, which also hails from Cuba, is nearly as old. It was a popular drink with thirsty U.S. tourists right after Prohibition, but it supposedly got its name before that, from President Mario García Menocal, who ran the island nation just prior to America’s “noble experiment.”

The El Presidente is structured much like a Manhattan with a base spirit and vermouth, but the addition of orange liqueur and grenadine make it considerably more complex than your average three-ingredient cocktail. While some recipes call for a white rum, an aged rum is much preferred for its silkier, caramel qualities. For the most authentic version of the cocktail, try to find a Cuban rum. But don’t get arrested. Or contract Havana Syndrome.

The modifying ingredients are where this one can get tricky. Grenadine (not Rose’s) adds dark fruit notes, however subtle, while the orange liqueur imparts a nice, tropical contrast with bright and fragrant citrus. Cointreau will do, but if you can find Pierre Ferrand Curacao, it will really elevate the whole experience. The vermouth is maybe the hardest part of this one. No standard dry or sweet here. You need the somewhat rarer bianco (aka blanc) vermouth to achieve a lighter structure and not let the other ingredients, all of which are rather saccharine, overpower the cocktail with too much sweetness. Dolin Blanc should fit the bill.

The resulting cocktail is an elegant change-up from your go-to Manhattan with just enough tropical touches to make it an ideal waterside, vacation sipper. Hell, drink it anywhere. In any season. It’s a winner.

El Presidente
1.75 oz. aged dark rum
0.75 oz. bianco vermouth
0.5 oz. orange liqueur
1 barspoon (0.5 teaspoon) grenadine

Add all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe, express on orange peel over the drink, and garnish with a cocktail cherry and the leftover orange peel.

Drew Beard is assistant editor for Drinkhacker and winner of several booze-related merit badges, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. A former federal employee turned hotelier and spirits journalist, he looks forward to his next midlife crisis.

1 Comment

  1. Jack C on September 2, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    Made this with Matusalem 10 and Dolin Blanc. Previous versions I made with a darker rum like Mount Gay, dry vermouth, Rose’s, and curaçao or Cointreau. This a much better recipe!

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