On the Sauce: El Presidente

A historic cocktail with a fresh spin that's sure to warm the soul.

click to enlarge On the Sauce: El Presidente
Chris Fasick

As the evening temps remain low, my need for drinks that warm the soul remains high. So get ready for a series of high-ABV cocktails to cope with what I'm sure isn't the most popular choice between Florida's two seasons.

This week's craving was rum — and a drink that could've easily been featured as part of our Historic Sauce series: El Presidente. The Cuban version of a Manhattan, as some folks put it, El Presidente gained popularity in Cuba during Prohibition years when thirsty Americans flocked there to get their drink on. It didn't take long for the cocktail's popularity to grow in the States, and the rest is history.

El Presidente isn't typically served with aged rum — it's normally white — but we're elevating things a bit here. It's been too long since I've sat down with a good aged rum, so I dusted off my bottle of Afrohead. I like the character this stuff adds to a drink, compared to its less-mature sibling. But that's not to say the cocktail doesn't work with white rum — if you've got it, use it. Just keep in mind that El Presidente isn't watered down with mixers, so I'd splurge on a quality brand. This is a top-shelf occasion.

The original recipe also calls for blanc vermouth. Now, I'm not one to buy fancy vermouth, and there's a better alternative available that you should already have in your home bar. Lillet Blanc is a must, people. The wine-based aperitif was made famous by James Bond in Casino Royale, and Hannibal Lecter even enjoyed his Lillet over ice throughout Thomas Harris's book series.


click to enlarge On the Sauce: El Presidente
Chris Fasick

El Presidente

Makes 1

1 1/2 ounces aged rum

1 1/2 Lillet Blanc

3/4 orange curaçao

1 bar spoon of grenadine

Fill a coupe glass with ice and set aside to chill. In a cocktail mixing glass filled with ice, add all ingredients and stir until well-chilled. Discard ice from coupe glass, then strain in cocktail. Garnish with an orange peel.

Connect with CL columnist Chris Fasick on Twitter, or email him at [email protected] if there's a cocktail or recipe you'd like featured.

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