Happy Truman Day! Celebrate The Holiday With Harry Truman’s Breakfast That Features Bourbon Shots
Today, May 8th, is a holiday. It is Truman Day, to celebrate the life of Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States. Truman became President on April 12, 1945, following the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Truman was quickly thrust into the final chapters of World War II and found himself having to make thorny decisions to end WWII and bring American troops back home as well as figure out how to rebuild the planet after all of the devastation. But let’s examine a little-known facet of Truman’s life… his incredible breakfast choices that included bourbon.
While everyone is zeroed in on Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby as their excuses to get drunk in May, you shouldn’t forget about Truman Day. President Truman had an interesting method to get his motor going — bourbon. From the Memphis Flyer:
According to his biographer, David McCullough, who won a Pulitzer for his 1992 tome, Truman, the president began most days at 5 a.m. with a shot of bourbon — Old Grand-Dad and Wild Turkey were his favorites. With his doctor’s approval, Truman would enjoy an egg, a slice of toast, a slice of bacon, a glass of skim milk, and a shot of Old Grand-Dad — the latter was purportedly drunk after his morning constitutional. It “got the engine running,” Truman said.
That certainly beats Cinnamon Toast Crunch. This magnificent breakfast of champions is still served to this day, 65 years after Truman left office. The Dish on Market restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, serves a “Presidential Breakfast” that comes with one egg, toast, fruit, bacon, milk and, a shot of Old Grand-Dad 100 for a very friendly price of $9.75.
“Every Morning President Truman awoke at 5am. He took a 2 mile Walk around the White House, Had a Rubdown, Light Breakfast and a Shot of Bourbon to begin his day. Rub Down Not included,” The Dish on Market says.
Truman’s appreciation of bourbon was so well-known that for Christmas in 1946 his cabinet gave him a bar set with two crystal decanters (one for bourbon, one for Scotch) and 12 matching silver cups each engraved with a staff member’s name on it. In Christmas of 1951, the White House received a case of Old Grand-Dad and an unnamed 18-year-old bourbon according to the Daily Beast.
Truman’s cocktail of choice was an Old Fashioned. But he loved bourbon so much that he didn’t want to spoil the drink. So his recipe doesn’t have sugar, bitters, citrus, or a maraschino cherry that are typically in the cocktail. Truman adored playing poker while drinking… you guessed it, bourbon. The President’s fondness for “America’s Native Spirit” was so profound that New York Times Magazine ran a story about Truman’s White House in 1946 called “Bourbon on the Potomac.”
Later in Truman’s life, his physician actually advised the former President to indulge in alcohol to improve his health. “The doctor says he should drink, that it’s good for him, it’s relaxing for him, and that it’s particularly good for people who are getting older and have hardening of the arteries or restricted circulation, and so forth,” said his son-in-law, E. Clifton Daniel, in a 1972 interview. “So, he is not only permitted to drink, but encouraged to drink, but of course not too much.” We should all have such understanding doctors.
So from now on, don’t forget to have a shot of bourbon on May 8th to celebrate Truman Day and pay homage to the 33rd POTUS. And if anyone questions your early morning shot, simply reply, “It’s presidential.”