O is for Old Fashioned

Here's a funny story about the Old Fashioned.

After President Franklin Roosevelt died, President Truman and his wife eventually moved into the White House. At the time, the White House was staffed by a coterie of people who were deeply committed to the deceased FDR. This is not surprising, since he'd been in office for 13 years, steering the country through the Great Depression and World War II.

The staff was just as deeply resentful and dismissive of the Trumans. They saw the new President as a little man, a political hack, firmly in the vest pocket of Boss Pendergast, the king of the Kansas City machine. His dowdy, drab wife Bess they dismissed as a small-town housewifey woman who was everything that the eloquent, cosmopolitan, patrician Eleanor Roosevelt was not.

The Trumans always enjoyed a drink together before dinner each night, a habit of long standing throughout their marriage. Soon after moving in, the First Lady asked the White House dining room steward for an Old Fashioned. The steward, a mixologist of fine training, prepared an Old Fashioned according to a classic recipe: bourbon, bitters, and a sugar lump, mixed with a splash of spring water and garnished with the traditional orange slice and maraschino cherry.

Mrs. Truman drank it, but the next night, she asked for an Old Fashioned again, but this time, made properly. The steward, his professional pride no doubt stung, asked for specifics. "Not so sweet", she said.

So, the steward prepared another Old Fashioned, this time using a different brand of bourbon and a different recipe. He garnished it in the traditional way and served it. This time, Mrs. Truman did not finish the drink.

The next night, she told the steward that if she'd wanted a fruit salad before dinner she would have asked for one, and that if the man didn't know how to make an Old Fashioned, he should just say so and find someone who did. This time, the steward went behind the bar, sloshed some rye whiskey into a highball glass and served it to her, neat. While he stood waiting, she took a sip.

"Ah!", she said. "Now THAT'S an Old Fashioned!"

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  1. Replies
    1. The Trumans were VERY different from the Roosevelts!

  2. LOL, and I can just imagine the steward slapping his forehead at this. Hilarious!

    1. Even better - I'm pretty sure this is a true story!


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