December 30, 1880

President Rutherford B. Hayes Gives Recipe for Allegedly "Non-Alcoholic" Punch

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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.
 

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Transcript

[in unidentified hand] The bronze cup made from the metal of the propeller of Farraguts ship, the "Hartford."

Executive Mansion,
Washington.

30th Dec 1880

Dear Tom:

This cup is not a drinking cup.  It will do for those swindling spoon victuals called Roman punch, which contains no rum or other spirits but are merely flavored with juniper or the like - but use it or show it as you please always being reminded of

Sincerely

R B HAYES

Thos Donaldson
&c &c