El Presidente (Cuban) – Recipe from David Embury’s ‘The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks’

1 part French Vermouth 

3 parts Gold Label Rum 

1 dash Grenadine to each drink 

Stir with large cubes of ice. Drop a twist of orange peel in each glass. Sometimes also decorated with a cherry. This recipe may be varied by adding i or 2 dashes of curacao to each drink.


Embury includes two El Presidente cocktails in his book, a Cuban and American, I’ll tackle the American version a bit later as it’s a fairly different drink.

The drink itself is prohibition era Cuban cocktail royalty. Created by American bartender, Eddie Woelke, who on fleeing prohibition settled in the Jockey Club in the then center of the world, Havana. And what is the first thing you do to cement your place in your new abode? Name a drink after the countries ruler, a great drink, and feed it to the boatloads of tourists, gangsters and Habaneros flocking to the races, and voila, history is made.

The drink is a rum classic, I always look at it and think that rum should pair with Italian not French, but I’m wrong. With red the drink always ends up too sweet due to the sweetness carried by the rum, a mix of the two works, but even better is a ‘bianco’ style, and then of course you have to decide on a rum which makes for many a night in many a bar slowly working your way through, drink by drink, rum by rum.