From the Museum

Silver Cocktail Set (MO 1972.14a-g) and Pernod Absinthe Bottle (MO 1976.331)



FDR had a long-standing practice of hosting a pre-dinner cocktail hour in the White House residence during his presidency. It was a time when he could cast aside the burdens of office at the end of the day and relax with close friends and family. Topics related to politics or government policy were banned from discussion.

FDR always mixed the drinks at these events, often using the Chinese silver cocktail shaker and cups seen above. The President especially enjoyed making unusual martinis, mixing together copious amounts of vermouth with whatever liquor or juice he had on hand. He was also known to add a few drop of absinthe “for flavor” according to his personal secretary, Grace Tully. The Pernod absinthe bottle seen here was from FDR’s tray of liquor in the White House.


FDR even indulged in the practice at diplomatic meetings. “It is cold on the stomach,” remarked Stalin, after being served one of FDR’s concoctions at the Teheran Conference.

Below is the recipe for the “FDR Special” found in the Val-Kill Cookbook:

2 parts gin
1 part dry, light vermouth
olive or lemon peel for garnish
crushed ice

Shake up gin and vermouth in a container half filled with chipped ice. Pour into chilled martini glasses, straining out the ice. Add garnish.