Saturday, December 19, 2009

Classic Cocktails in the White House c/o Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow discovers what they are serving at the White House cocktail parties. Classic cocktails: the Emerson, the Stone Fence, the Robert Frost Cocktail. It looks like they have maraschino liquor and Plymouth Gin on the table in the photo that Rachel snuck. My confidence in the Union is restored by the presence of a man in the White House who drinks, drinks responsibly, and drinks tastefully. (That would likely keep me out of the White House but that is likely a good thing.)


Can't find a recipe for the Robert Frost Cocktail but here are the other two, as well as the ingredients Rachel listed for each:

- 2 oz Gin
- 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
- 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
- 1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
- Glassware: Cocktail Glass

Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass.

At the White House according to Rachel:

Old tom gin


Lime juice

Sweet vermouth

Stone Fence
- 2 ounces brandy (or applejack, or Scotch, or bourbon, or rye, or rum)
- hard cider

Pour the spirits into a pint glass; add two lumps of ice and fill with cider.

At the White House, according to Rachel:

Apple Jack
Apple cider
Fee Brothers Aromatic Bitters

Finally the Robert Frost Cocktail, developed by Derek Brown, according to Rachel:

White Port
Orange Bitters

Using some basic principle of drink making, I have tried to sort out the proportions of The Robert Frost Cocktail.

I am not quite sure what it is supposed to taste like and I am pretty fond of the taste of all of the ingredients so who knows if this is what Washington luminaries (and Susan Mikula) drank at the white house but it's what we are drinking at my house tonight. Suffice to say, I could drink a couple few of them quite happily.

1 1/2 oz. bourbon
3/4 oz. white port
3/4 oz. sherry
Orange bitters
Sugar cube

Muddle a sugar cube with two or three dashes of orange bitters and a little water in an old fashioned glass. (This is how my two favorite drinks, the old fashioned and the sazerac commence, so I figure it's a good way to start just about anything.) Add the other ingredients with a lot of ice and stir with a chop stick or mixing spoon. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Make pretend you are Susan Mikula, or David Axelrod, or someone else likely to attend a White House cocktail party.

Comments or real recipes for this drink (as well as an explanation of the Robert Frost connection) are welcome.


I finally found the real recipe for the Robert Frost on The Atlantic website.

Here it is:

The Robert Frost Cocktail

• ¾ oz. Bourbon
• ¾ oz. Amontillado Sherry (dry)
• ¾ oz. White Port
• ½ oz. Simple Syrup
• Dash of Orange Bitters

Combine ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and add thinly sliced orange and lemon wheels.

I wouldn't have thought equal parts. But it works.


  1. Great clip. Thanks for sharing. I'm going to have to try these. The Emerson sounds amazing.

  2. Gregory Brown, you share a name with one of my clients. For a second, I thought that it must be him. But I suppose not, given the limited access to the internet, and liquor, at Angola. I am also excited to try the Emerson. I bought a bottle of Old Tom gin just for that purpose. But when I got home, I realize that I had used up all of my maraschino making Last Words and Hemingway daiquiris.

  3. Thanks for the guestimate at the recipe for "Rachel's" Robert Frost...I bought the white port, lined up all other ingredients, and realized I didn't know where to start and could get quite looped in the process figuring it out. Nice flourishes with the sugar cube and the attitude! Long live good drinks in the hands of the powerful!

  4. I saw this cocktail moment last year, its great that you wrote these recipes down.

    Last night I had a delicious Applejack cocktail, but all of the recipes I was finding online were clearly wrong. I think these ingredients you list here sound just right. Thanks!