Last Updated on June 12, 2023 by Leah Hall
This cocktail is a classic and full of flavor. The El Presidente cocktail recipe is a slightly sweet rum cocktail served up and made in the 1920s.
The El Presidente cocktail comes from Cuba. It was likely named for President Mario García Menocal, who ran the country from 1913 to 1921. Or, for Gerardo Machado, a General and President from 1925-1933. But, either way, it was most likely named after one of these men.
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During that time, Cuba was a popular vacation spot for the US, and the popularity only grew after Prohibition started, when people went to Cuba for good weather and booze (wink, wink). Some other famous Cuban cocktails were there during this time, too. They were the Daiquiri and Mojito. The El Presidente, which is made with white rum, orange curacao, Blanc vermouth and grenadine.
What’s the El Presidente Cocktail?
Like we said above, it’s a Cuban mixed drink made with aged rum, blanc vermouth, orange liqueur (usually Curacao), and grenadine. It was popular in Cuba in the 1920s to 1940s, but seems to be lesser known today. During it’s heyday it quickly became the desired drink of the Cuban upper class.
Either way, President Machado gave Pan Am (Pan American Airways) exclusive rights to fly the Florida to Havana route. Pan Am served a variation of the El Presidente on their planes, known as the Clipper Cocktail. It was gold rum, vermouth and grenadine.
Ingredients in the El Presidente Cocktail
El Presidente has changed throughout the years, with many bartenders changing the recipe. You can try a lightly aged rum instead of white rum. Instead of dry vermouth, try a blanc style vermouth in this, which is semi-dry, slightly sweet, and most likely the one used in the original recipe. If you want less orange flavor, add less orange liqueur. Since the ingredients can definitely be played with, do so, and find a recipe that you like best! White rum is the one that is typically used though, so we used that as the base.
What is Blanc Vermouth?
We are sure you know about sweet vermouth and white vermouth. But, there is a third type of vermouth. Did you know that? Blanc vermouth or Vermouth Bianco.
- Blanc vermouth: semi sweet white vermouth: it’s semi-dry, slightly sweet. The bests of both of the other vermouths. Finishes a little bitter, with some floral.
- What other drinks use Blanc Vermouth? We have the Vesper Martini (in place of the Lillet) and the White Negroni.
- If you do make the El Presidente with dry white vermouth it may be too bitter for you. Again, try the amounts to see what you like, but blanc vermouth will get you there quicker.
- Is there a substitute for Blanc Vermouth? Lillet Blanc, semi-sweet white wine or Cocchi Americano.
The last liquor in the El Presidente is the orange liqueur! This drink traditionally uses orange curacao, but if you can’t get that, you can use Grand Marnier or Cointreau.
- Grand Marnier Grand Marnier is the highest end orange liqueur, and we feel has the best flavor.
- Cointreau This is a great ingredient in a pinch.
The final ingredient needed is grenadine to make the El Presidente recipe! Most grenadine that you may be familiar with is the sickly sweet thicker syrup. You can use this, but we encourage you to use a specially made brand or a homemade version for a lighter and better flavor than a sugar bomb and made with natural ingredients.
- Grenadine is a sweet tart syrup made out of pomegranate juice. Not cherries. Did you know that?
- What drinks use grenadine? It’s most famous in cocktails like a non-alcoholic Shirley Temple or The Ward 8, or Scofflaw. We also used it in our recipes The Cherry Blossom and The Tart Cherry!
This is a fantastic drink for summer, but great all year. Being it’s a classic cocktail, it is classy and makes a fabulous dinner drink, too! Make sure to try some white rum in our Mai Tai or Cuba Libre, too!
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Like this recipe? Try these below, too!
Other Classic Cocktails
The El Presidente cocktail is full of flavor from rum, orange curacao, white vermouth, and a dash of grenadine for a refreshing classic cocktail.
- 1.50 ounces white rum
- .75 ounce orange curacao
- .75 ounce white vermouth
- dash of grenadine
- Add all the ingredients into a shaker with ice.
- Strain into a coupe.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 150Carbohydrates: 7.4gSugar: 6.7g
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