Now that we are officially in the throes of the 2016 presidential election race, the media is obsessed with weighing the merits of one candidate’s platform versus another. But let’s be honest: We are interested in more than just their politics. Dissections of vacation destinations, price comparisons of haircuts and even psychological analyses of music playlists count in the minds of voters, almost as much as proposed foreign policy strategies and views on taxation. But the one detail I’d love to learn about the lives of these wannabe commanders in chief is never discussed: What they like to drink. (And I don’t mean iced tea or lemonade.) Like in a scene out of Veep, most would no doubt find some way to dodge the simple request if asked. (No surprise, given how well Obama’s so-called “beer summit” went over back in 2009.) However, the United States has a long and rich boozy presidential history that often reflected the state of the union. It started in the very beginning: George Washington owned the country’s largest rye whiskey distillery after leaving office. And it wasn’t that long ago when presidential candidates proudly publicized their drink of choice—case in point, Harry S. Truman. Truman, who held office from 1945 to 1953, has one of the most storied presidential relationships with alcohol to date.
“He did have a reputation for enjoying his bourbon,” says Clay Bauske, the curator of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri. “[Though] he certainly didn’t go as far as Winston Churchill, who is a very famous drinker.”
The Missouri Democrat harbored a love for bourbon so well-known that in November of 1945 the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which objected to his frequent drinking and poker playing, tried to prevent Baylor University from giving him an honorary degree.