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No nation is drunken where wine is cheap, and none sober where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage. Wine brightens the life and thinking of anyone.
Being the “Leader of the Free World” – the president of the United States of America – is no easy task. Balancing national security with the needs of individual Americans to pursue life, liberty and happiness, it is no wonder that America’s leaders (throughout history) regularly took time with their favorite bottles to unwind at the end of the day. While every American has their favorite, wine and booze seem to be the most common favorites for most our past leaders.
Wine paired well with most U.S. Presidents, including Thomas Jefferson with his reported 20,000 bottle collection. James Monroe reportedly used his furniture budget for Burgundy wines and Franklin D Roosevelt made sure wine was available after the Prohibition was repealed. Even after his presidency, Jimmy Carter became a winemaker and our current president, Donald Trump has his own winery called “Trump Wine.”
Although wine was a favorite, many of our presidents preferred harder liquor. Harry S Truman loved bourbon so much, he began each day with a shot. Andrew Jackson was known to have produced and sold whiskey. Ever heard of the McKinley’s Delight? This rye-based spin on a Manhattan was named after our 25th president, William McKinley. Richard Nixon was known to give out cheaper wines and whiskey drinks to his guests but hoarded all the good bottles for himself.
Sadly, a few of our presidents took drinking a little too far. Franklin Pierce, number 14, is known as the biggest drinker, dying of liver cirrhosis. Andrew Johnson loved whiskey so much he showed up to his own inauguration in 1865 extremely drunk. Unfortunately, Ulysses, S Grant took his lifelong love of liquor too far during his service in the Civil War, and this habit continued until his death in 1877. It is reported that Grant tried to use Brandy for migraines and laced his wine with cocaine to relieve his throat cancer pain.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the US has had its share of presidents that avoided the bottle (or were forced by their wives to avoid the bottle). During their terms, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Harrison, and George W. Bush didn’t drink at all. Lincoln was extremely busy during his term, Harrison chose not to drink for religious reasons, and George W gave up drinking long before he took office. Unfortunate for Herbert Hoover, he liked to drink from his impressive wine collection, but during Prohibition, his wife allegedly dumped his entire stash down the drain. Rutherford B Haye’s wife even went as far as banning all wine and liquor from the white house for his term in office.
Whether it was wine or harder liquor, many of our nation’s presidents used a fermented beverage to unwind at their end of their long days. For some, their personal pursuit of happiness called for a shot for breakfast, improving their high-end wine collections, or even finding solace in other pursuits. No matter their beverage preference, it is refreshing to see that the “leader of the free world” is still just one of us, at the end of the day.