An Examination of the Presidents of the United States of America Alcohol Consumption

Many Americans believe our presidents were heavy drinking hard men.

The information that follows investigates the myth of heavy presidential drinking.

Explore and enjoy!

presidential drinks averages

The myth of presidential drinking

The research reveals the majority of US presidents were moderate drinkers. With 19% who elected to drink no alcohol whatsoever, teetotal.

Therefore, contrary to what most people assume, we must cast aside any notion that US presidents were heavy drinkers.

Conclusion

The data suggest a couple of simple messages to young and old.

Most US presidents are positive role models for avoiding alcohol.

If you wish to get ahead, don't drink excessive amounts of alcohol.

The data

The table below includes data for each president: the years they were president, their favorite drink and a grade for the amount of alcohol each president drank. Grades are determined by how much alcohol each president drank on a scale from zero (0) to five (5). Teetotal presidents are graded 0 and heavy drinking presidents are graded 5.

President Year of Presidency Favourite Drink Grade
George Washington April 30, 1789 - March 4, 1797 Whiskey 2
John Adams March 4, 1797 - March 4, 1801 Cider 2
Thomas Jefferson March 4, 1801 - March 4, 1809 Wine 2
James Madison March 4, 1809 - March 4, 1817 Champagne 1
James Monroe March 4, 1817 - March 4, 1825 Wine 1
John Quincy Adams March 4, 1825 - March 4, 1829 Wine 1
Andrew Jackson March 4, 1829 - March 4, 1837 Whiskey 1
Martin Van Buren March 4, 1837 - March 4, 1841 Whiskey 5
William Henry Harrison March 4, 1841 - April 4, 1841 Teetotal 0
John Tyler April 4, 1841 - March 4, 1845 Champagne 1
James K. Polk March 4, 1845 - March 4, 1849 Wine 1
Zachary Taylor March 4, 1849 - July 9, 1850 Whiskey 1
Millard Fillmore July 9, 1850 - March 4, 1853 Wine 1
Franklin Pierce March 4, 1853 - March 4, 1857 Whiskey 5
James Buchanan March 4, 1857 - March 4, 1861 Wine 5
Abraham Lincoln March 4, 1861 - April 15, 1865 Teetotal 0
Andrew Johnson April 15, 1865 - March 4, 1869 Whiskey 2
Ulysses S. Grant March 4, 1869 - March 4, 1877 Whiskey 3
Rutherford B. Hayes March 4, 1877 - March 4, 1881 Teetotal 0
James Garfield March 4, 1881 - September 19, 1881 Beer 1
Chester A. Arthur September 19, 1881 - March 4, 1885 Wine 3
Grover Cleveland March 4, 1885 - March 4, 1889 and March 4, 1893 - March 4, 1897 Beer 5
Benjamin Harrison March 4, 1889 - March 4, 1893 Teetotal 0
William McKinley March 4, 1897 - September 14, 1901 Whiskey 1
Theodore Roosevelt September 14, 1901 - March 4, 1909 Teetotal 1
William Howard Taft March 4, 1909 - March 4, 1913 Teetotal 1
Woodrow Wilson March 4, 1913 - March 4, 1921 Whiskey 1
Warren G. Harding March 4, 1921 - August 2, 1923 Whiskey 1
Calvin Coolidge August 2, 1923 - March 4, 1929 Wine 1
Herbert Hoover March 4, 1929 - March 4, 1933 Wine 1
Franklin D. Roosevelt March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945 Whiskey 2
Harry Truman April 12, 1945 - January 20, 1953 Wine 1
Dwight D. Eisenhower January 20, 1953 - January 20, 1961 Whiskey 1
John F. Kennedy January 20, 1961 - November 22, 1963 Cocktails 1
Lyndon B. Johnson November 22, 1963 - January 20, 1969 Whiskey 2
Richard Nixon January 20, 1969 - August 9, 1974 Wine 3
Gerald Ford August 9, 1974 - January 20, 1977 Gin 2
Jimmy Carter January 20, 1977 - January 20, 1981 Teetotal 0
Ronald Reagan January 20, 1981 - January 20, 1989 Wine 1
George H. W. Bush January 20, 1989 - January 20, 1993 Beer 1
William Clinton January 20, 1993 - January 20, 2001 Beer 1
George W. Bush January 20, 2001 - January 20, 2009 Teetotal 0
Barack Obama January 20, 2009 - Beer 1

Averages

Over all Average Grade = 1.5

1800's Average Grade = 1.86

1900's Average Grade = 1.22

Drink popularity

The research identified whiskey was the most popular alcoholic beverage amongst US presidents. Order of popularity

  1. Whiskey,
  2. Wine,
  3. Beer,
  4. Champagne,
  5. Cider,
  6. Gin.

Sources

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Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
homeofbob.com & schoolofbob.com