Photos by John Kiely One of the best cocktails ever, and also one of the worst.
If you make it with the right spirits, the El Presidente cocktail is sophisticated, light and dreamy. It's every bit as elegant as a Martini, and better-tasting if you're not a lover of gin.
If you make the El Presidente with lesser brands of liquor, it tastes like hairspray. Sadly, this elite cocktail fell victim to political idealism and the search for a cheap buck, but recent cocktail trends will bring it back.
The drink was born when the enemies of fun and luxury enacted Prohibition in 1919. Much of the thriving American cocktail culture, and a lot of bartending talent, went overseas to Europe and Cuba. One of those bartenders, Eddie Woelke, working at the Jockey Club in Havana, put together an improbable mix of white rum, French dry vermouth, orange curaçao and grenadine, and named it in honor of Presidente Gerardo Machado, who governed Cuba through the years of Prohibition.