Today we’re mixing the Potted Parrot cocktail on the anniversary of President Andrew Jackson’s funeral. We’re doing so because Poll, Jackson’s pet parrot, was removed from his funeral for swearing loudly. Sure, Teddy Roosevelt may have had a one-legged rooster, but Poll was the only Presidential Parrot we’re aware of.
Funeral attendees were aghast at Poll’s foul mouth, and some probably would have liked to see him potted, or cooked and preserved in a jar. Worry not, the Potted Parrot recipe does not involve a bird. Rather, it’s a relatively simple tiki drink from one of the original tiki creators: Victor Bergeron, aka Trader Vic.
We’re not much for commemorating dates of death here at the Almanac, but we’re happy to honor a funeral with a parrot. Especially a parrot that swears.
Jackson and the Parrot named Poll
On June 8, 1828 Andrew Jackson bought an African Grey parrot from Decker & Dyer, a shop near his home in Nashville. He did this as a gift to his wife, Rachel. If you were not already aware of it, African Grey parrots are the most loquacious of their sort, prone to imitating human speech and a variety of other sounds. Somewhere along the line the bird was named Poll.
Jackson left for the White House in January of the following year and would write to family to ask about “poor Poll’s health.” He clearly missed the parrot.
Jackson completed his stint as President in March of 1837 and found his way back to Nashville. He was reunited with Poll and would often let the parrot sit on his shoulder while he worked. Poll would squawk and swear along with Jackson and the two of them had a grand old time.
Jackson’s funeral was held on June 10, 1845, two days after his death. Thousands of people gathered to pay their respects, and Poll was in attendance.
The funeral, of course, was a solemn occasion. But Poll wasn’t having any of it. He started squawking and swearing loudly. Reverend William Menefee Norment was presiding over the service and had Poll removed.
Reverend Norment noted that:
“Before the sermon and while the crowd was gathering, a wicked parrot that was a household pet got excited and commenced swearing so loud and long as to disturb the people and had to be carried from the house.”
He also noted that Poll “let loose perfect gusts of cuss words.” People were “horrified and awed at the bird’s lack of reverence.”
Whatever motivated him, Poll’s outburst at Jackson’s funeral is a reminder of the man’s colorful personality and his sometimes controversial legacy.
How to make the Potted Parrot Cocktail
The Potted Parrot recipe was created by Victor Bergeron, the founder of Trader Vic’s restaurants. It was first served during the 1940s at his original location in Oakland, California. We, of course, have paid honor to Mr. Bergeron for his invention of the Mai Tai and celebrated his birthday with Hot Buttered Rum. He was also noted to be very fond of the Queen’s Park Swizzle.
The name of the drink actually refers to a parrot named Polly that was kept at Trader Vic’s. While the “potted” aspect was probably intended to suggest the bird was drunk, we find it to be an appropriate drink to celebrate Poll as many of the funeral goers would have like to have seen him converted into potted meat.
In any event, the Potted Parrot is a popular drink in the tiki world and is relatively simple. Reports on how to garnish the drink vary widely. Some suggest a ceramic parrot swizzle stick was used. Others claim it was a lime wedge and a parrot feather. We don’t have any parrot feathers around, nor do we have any parrot swizzle sticks, so we’re going with the more classic protocol: a sprig of mint.
- Add all ingredients to your trusty shaker.
- Add ice and shake until frosty cold.
- Strain into tall glass filled with crushed ice.
- Garnish with mint.