December 30, 1880
President Rutherford B. Hayes Gives Recipe for Allegedly "Non-Alcoholic" Punch
Hayes, discussing a recipe for an alcoholic beverage - like a vegetarian on hamburgers or a celibate on sex - is hardly a reference; and here, presenting a cup forged from the metal propeller of Admiral Farragut’s Civil War flagship, the Hartford, he gets the recipe for Roman Punch wrong. That fashionable 19th century sorbet was a frozen concoction of lemons, oranges, water, egg whites, sugar and – this is where the President is in error – whiskey or champagne. Hayes, however, first denigrates the course - “swindling spoon victuals” – and then insists it “contains no rum or other spirits but are merely flavored with juniper or the like.”
The Hayes’ White House, famously, was a bastion of Temperance – earning Mrs. Hayes the sobriquet “Lemonade Lucy” – although it was rumored that the disapproving staff served oranges infused with a rum-based Roman Punch. Hayes later debunked this, saying that his orders were to flavor the Punch with the same flavors found in Jamaica rum – and the joke wasn’t on himself and Mrs. Hayes, but the drinkers.
Autograph Letter Signed (“R.B. Hayes”), as President, 1 page, octavo, Executive Mansion, December 30, 1880. To Thomas Donaldson.
With transmittal envelope.