The El Presidente Cocktail from Cuba is a subtly sweet, citrus rum drink. Boozy and sophisticated, this classic drink is sure to delight any palate.
The El Presidente Cocktail History
The El Presidente cocktail was created in the early 1900s. The first El Presidente recipe was published in 1915 in a book called The Manuel de Cantinero - which is a bartender’s manual in Spanish by John B. Escalante.
It was named in honor of Mario García Menocal who was president of Cuba from 1913 to 1921. During his leadership, Cuba was a popular vacation spot for Americans.
And this popularity only grew after The American Prohibition was initiated and Havana became a refuge of good weather and good cocktails.
After 13 long years of Prohibition, American drinkers brought the El Presidente back to the US. And from here it spread and has remained a favorite classic drink.
So what exactly is an El Presidente Cocktail
An El Presidente Cocktail is a classic alcoholic drink from Cuba. It is made of rum, orange curaçao, vermouth, and grenadine.
This cocktail combines the deep, caramel flavors of rum with the bright, zesty orange notes of orange curaçao. The addition of grenadine provides a sweet fruitness and the floral and vanilla notes of white vermouth give the cocktail a delicious lightness.
This tasty Cuban drink is a boozy slow-sipper that has a beautiful balance of flavors. It is a fresh cocktail that is especially fantastic to enjoy during the summer - but is also enjoyable all year round!
Check out our OLD CUBAN COCKTAIL RECIPE for another delicious classic Cuban drink that is definitely worth a try!
Ingredients Needed and Notes
The El Presidente Cocktail has changed through the years, with many bartenders and drinkers tweaking the formula of ingredients to create a drink best suited to their preferences.
That being said, the ingredients needed to make one are always rum, vermouth, orange liqueur, and grenadine. You can read more about the ingredients you will need to make this tasty cocktail below:
- Rum. The El Presidente is traditionally made with aged rum or golden rum. When rum is aged for a few years it gives the liquor a more complex flavor. Golden rum generally has undertones of vanilla, coconut, almond, citrus, or caramel. If you can’t find any golden or aged rum, you can substitute it for some dark rum for a similar flavor.
- Vermouth. El Presidente cocktails use a lesser-known type of vermouth - blanc vermouth (aka vermouth bianco). Blanc vermouth is a semi-sweet white vermouth. This means it is both dry like white vermouth and sweet like red vermouth. It has a floral flavor with notes of vanilla with a subtle bitterness on the finish.
- Orange curaçao. This is the traditional choice of orange liqueur to make an El Presidente. But it can be a difficult liqueur to source. If you can't find some, you could use Grand Marnier or Cointreau. Keep in mind that Cointreau may alter the color of the final drink though as it is colorless - but it will still create a tasty cocktail.
- Grenadine. This bright red pomegranate syrup brings a rosy color to the drink and a subtle sweetness and fruitiness.
How to make an El Presidente Cocktail
To make an El Presidente Cocktail, follow the step-by-step instructions below or find a full, detailed recipe at the end of this post:
Fill a mixing glass with ice cubes.
Add the rum, vermouth, orange curacao, and grenadine. Stir together until well chilled, about 30 - 60 seconds.
Strain the drink into a chilled cocktail glass and add any desired garnish before enjoying it immediately.
Optional Garnish Suggestions
- Luxado cherry
- Brandied cherry
- Lemon zest twist
- Orange zest twist
Recipe Tips and Notes
Measure accurately: Use a jigger or a measuring cup to measure your ingredients accurately. A precise measurement can make a big difference in the balance and flavor of your cocktail.
Adjust the sweetness: If you prefer a sweeter cocktail, you can add a dash of simple syrup, maple syrup, or honey.
High-quality ingredients: Choosing good-quality ingredients will significantly improve your El Presidente Cocktail. Like most classic cocktails, each ingredient that is added should be chosen carefully because it is a simple drink and each element stands out and plays an important role.
Perfect your balance: It is easy to adjust this cocktail to your exact preferences. If you want more body, try a richly flavored aged rum. If you want to sweeten the vermouth, try a red style of vermouth. And if you find the cocktail too orange-heavy, lessen the amount of curaçao you add.
El Presidente Cocktail
- 1 cocktail serving glass
- 1 mixing glass
- 1 ½ oz golden rum
- 1 oz blanc vermouth
- ½ oz orange liqueur
- ¼ oz grenadine
- ice cubes
- orange zest optional garnish
- Fill a mixing glass with ice cubes.
- Add the rum, vermouth, orange curacao, and grenadine. Stir together until well chilled, about 30 - 60 seconds.
- Strain the drink into a chilled cocktail glass and add any desired garnish before enjoying it immediately.