Today’s drink is a tweak on the original El Presidente cocktail, which relies on white rum and vermouth blanc. I’ve added my own twist to it, but you can follow the recipe for the original as well (I’ve included the steps).
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What is El Presidente ?
The original El Presidente is an old Cuban cocktail that’s quite different from any other cocktail from the area. Where most Cuban drinks focus on citrus and rum, with often a sour overtone, El Presidente is sleek and even a bit sweet, with a nice rosy tint to it.
The drink was popular in Cuba back in the early 1900s, and who first invented it is a bit of a mystery, which happens to nearly all classics. In terms of comparison, El Presidente is similar to a Manhattan but with vermouth instead of whisky.
Disclaimer: I’ve tweaked the drink a little. I prefer it a bit sweeter and wanted something more nuanced. This is my version of El Presidente.
A sleek and refined Cuban cocktail, with a surprising sweetness to it and a wonderful color.
- 1.5 oz light rum
- 0.5 oz triple sec
- 1.5 oz vermouth blanc
- 0.5 oz grenadine
- 1 dash aromatic bitter
- granulated sugar to garnish (optional)
- Wet the rim of a Martini glass and dip it in granulated sugar.
- In a shaker combine ice, vermouth, rum, grenadine, triple sec, bitter. Stir approx 20 seconds.
- Strain into Martini glass.
- This is my tweak for the original. If you want the original, just skip the bitters and halve the grenadine.
- The granulated sugar is optional, as this drink is already a bit sweet. You can garnish with an orange twist if you like, or an orange wheel.
- Grenadine and aromatic bitters are what give this drink its color. If you want to tone it down, scale down the grenadine, or omit the aromatic.
- I didn't have a mixing glass, so I used the shaker and strained with the cap.
When is this drink best ?
This is a rum sipper, so it’s something to savor and enjoy. It works great as a pre-dinner drink, or even after dinner, if you fiddle with the grenadine. Since it’s a more refined drink I’d say it’s great for a date or a quiet night by the fire. I don’t think it’s a very summery drink, though it could easily be served in summer. It’s chilled but not on ice, so it could be served year-round.
My thoughts on El Presidente
The El Presidente I made is a bit sweet, a bit bitter, and definitely rum-forward. It plays well with the blanc vermouth, which is not as sweet as a sweet vermouth but not as dry as a dry vermouth. So for my tastes (I like my flavors big) I think this is an improvement on the original.
Of course, if you’d like to try the original, simply omit the bitters, and halve the grenadine. The rest of the recipe is the same.
If you like El Presidente, you might also like…
Old Cuban – another rum-based drink, named so after the aged rum it uses.
Manhattan – yet another classic, but with whisky.
Notes, substitutes, and tips
I used triple sec, but you could use any orange liqueur you have on hand. There is a slight difference in finish but the overall tone is the same.
Grenadine is very potent, and I like my drinks with a stronger flavor. If you find it too strong, halve the grenadine, or use just 1 bar spoon’s worth and add more later.
The aromatic bitters are a personal touch since they seem to give depth of flavor to any drink. The bitterness adds a nice touch, and I think it plays well with the blanc vermouth. Of course, you can omit it if you like.