El Presidente

Matt Robold, Rumdood

Gerardo Machado ruled Cuba from 1925 to 1933, a time when Americans made Havana’s many rum-soaked watering holes their haven away from Prohibition. Though the dictator was nicknamed ”the butcher”—most likely for the missing ring finger on his right hand suffered while working at a butcher shop as a child—the bartender responsible for this Machado-inspired cocktail simply called it, El Presidente. Or so the stories go.

Many tip their hats to Eddie Woelke, an American bartender at the Jockey Club in Havana for the creation of this and the Mary Pickford. However, the drink found popularity upon the repeal of Prohibition at El Chico, a Greenwich Village joint run by Spanish immigrant Benito Collada. Like so many cocktails of that era, the El Presidente fell into obscurity as rum lost its footing in the American spirits market.


Serving: 1

  • 1 1/2 ounces gold rum
  • 3/4 ounce dry vermouth
  • 1/4 ounce orange curaçao
  • 1/2 teaspoon grenadine, see recipe

Garnish: orange or lemon peel

  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass.
  2. Add ice and stir until chilled.
  3. Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with an orange or lemon peel.