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Thursday, May 27, 2010

El Presidente will take you back to old Havana

Everyone has heard of Ernest Hemingway’s drinking exploits in Cuba, all of the Daiquiris and the Papa Dobles.  William Grimes writes about them in his entertaining book Straight Up or On the Rocks: A Cultural History of American Drink.  Just a few paragraphs earlier, however, he had mentioned the El Presidente, an intriguing sounding drink, half Rum and half Dry Vermouth, with a little Curacao or Grenadine thrown in.  Daiquiris are good, but El Presidente had something a little different to offer.  The requisite web search turned up a variety of recipes, some of which added various fruit juices and sounded more like Tiki drinks, while others were closer to the original cocktail recipe referenced by Grimes.

A little experimentation resulted in the recipe below. Noilly Prat® Vermouth overpowered the Mount Gay® Eclipse Silver Barbados Rum at the one-to-one ratio, so the half and half blend went away.  Even at this ratio, this is a dry cocktail without the Grenadine, so you should vary the Grenadine to get the degree of sweetness you like.  My wife prefers the teaspoon mentioned below.  You definitely should experiment on this cocktail, especially if you like yours drier.  You might want to start with a half teaspoon of Grenadine and add more if needed, or substitute a little simple syrup if you don’t want the Grenadine taste.  You could also substitute a sweeter Rum.  The El Presidente pictured here was made without Grenadine, which will (obviously) move the color into the pink.

El Presidente

2 oz Light Rum
1 oz Dry (French) Vermouth
1 tsp Grenadine (variable)
1 dash Orange Bitters

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass half full of cracked ice.  Stir well while thinking about what Havana was like when Hemingway was writing in Cuba.  Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with twist of orange peel.  Enjoy while gazing lazily at the ceiling fan slowly stirring up a breeze.

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