El Presidente: A Dash of Cocktail History


The Story of  The El Presidente Cocktail

The El Presidente is a classic Cuban cocktail. The exact origin is unknown, but according to Esquire magazine, El Presidente was created by Eddie Woelke, an American bartender at the Jockey Club in Havana, Cuba. He named the drink in honour of the Presidente Gerardo Machado who ruled Cuba throughout most of the prohibition years. For sure, El Presidente was invented to please Americans who traveled to Cuba during prohibition to drink legally in an exotic place. Ships would leave American ports bound for Havana and as soon as they entered international waters, a team of stewards would circulate carrying cocktails for the passengers. Other cocktails popularized during this period were the Daiquiri and Cuba Libre.  Old Havana is famous for its splendid historic architecture and old cars but it is also an historic place for its prohibition-era drinks. At the time, Havana was the Las Vegas of the Americas. After prohibition, the El Presidente cocktail travelled through Florida, and headed north where it was well liked by bar patrons. In the 50’s the cocktail faded away as people discovered Vodka, and today it has vanished from cocktail lists in most establishments. If you order an El Presidente you will likely receive a blank stare (just hope that he/she has a good bartender guide behind the bar). Thankfully, due to the current cocktail revival more bars and restaurants are offering classics such as the El Presidente and vintage Cuba’s cocktails will be known around the world again. Add the El Presidente to your bar or home cocktail list to make sure that this cocktail lives on!

El Presidente  recipe.