Persona March, 31st 2017 by

Teetotal Trump


Teetotal Trump

AJ Linn

The media on every level is filled with comments about the US’s new president, even trivial observations like his teetotal habit. Many readers will praise this way if life – although if they live on the Coast they may be in the minority.

Trump is also in the minority as far as US presidents are concerned. All the greatest US presidents drank, some moderately, some less so. Recent holders of the post have already had honourable and not so honourable mentions in this column, although only Lyndon Johnson’s love of Scotch stands out. His bodyguards had the job of making sure there was always plenty it around. No, it was the old-timers who knew how to get through the stuff in a serious fashion.

George Washington built a whisky distillery at his home in Mount Vernon. Not just any old distillery, but the largest in the US. Like Trump he practised an America-First policy, and would not have beer or cheese on his table that was imported.

John Adams, the second president, started his day with cider, beer and rum. His successor, Thomas Jefferson, ran up huge wine bills all over the place, and another, James Madison, somehow got a delivery to the White House of a hundred cases of French wines charged to furniture purchases. But you have to like Franklin Roosevelt the most. On being elected in 1932 he sensed America’s boredom with Prohibition after 15 years, so cancelled it. Most evenings were spent drinking dry martinis, mixed on his classic 6-1 ratio, and before he was tucked up in bed by the Secret Service he often sang old college songs. At the post-war Tehran conference, Stalin insisted on drinking vodka and Churchill champagne. At one round of negotiations the congenial trio got through 365 toasts, one for each day of the year.

Trump doesn’t smoke either, so Abe Lincoln, who was a bartender prior to becoming president, was maybe near the mark when he commented, ‘It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.’

AJ Linn


AJ Linn

Andrew Linn left England 40 years ago to relocate to Spain, having been involved in businesses such as wine shipping and publishing. He currently writes regularly and professionally on wine, food, flamenco, and the Spanish way of life for various publications, and has a regular column in a Spanish newspaper. Andrew is involved in charity work relating to abandoned and mistreated animals.

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