Author Mark Will-Weber says the book was inspired by President Warren Harding. Most New Zealanders will be unaware of Harding (the 29th President who served from 1921 to 1923) but Will-Weber was fascinated that Harding could continue to indulge in his love of liquor despite serving at the height of Prohibition.
Even though it was strictly illegal, Will-Weber says Harding though nothing about taking a bottle of whisky around the golf course. This seeming contradiction got the author interested in what the rest of the presidents drank.
America’s first president, George Washington, loved to drink “Porter beer” mixed with molasses – a very sweet drop which may have explained his dental problems. Others favoured cocktails with at least two Presidents having drinks named after them (McKinley’s Delight – three ounces of rye whiskey, some sweet vermouth, two dashes of cherry brandy and a dash of absinthe; Teddy Hat Cocktail – San Juan Rum, dry gin, a dash of absinthe and topped with a slice of lemon).
President William Henry Harrison, the ninth US president, drank hard cider, a working class drink which helped him appear as a “man of the people.” However, he died after just 32 days in office in 1841. President Nixon seemingly confirms his sneaky reputation by drinking expensive wine hidden behind a napkin while serving much cheaper wines to his guests.
Of the most recent Presidents, George W Bush gave up alcohol long before holding office after a series of youthful indiscretions. President Obama has been known to drink wine at state functions and the occasional beer, but he is a moderate, health-conscious drinker.