The Missouri Mule

Harry Truman's first ever televised presidential address

Your cocktail calendar entry for: October
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We’re mixing up the Missouri Mule on October 5 in honor of Harry Truman, one of few presidents with a cocktail named after them.  It was on October 5, 1947 that he made the first ever televised presidential address from the White House.  Television was a new thing and there were about 44,000 TV sets in the U.S., but he started a trend.  He’s also one of very few presidents that have a cocktail invented in their honor.  So today the Drink of the Day is the Missouri Mule.

This is not the only important thing about October 5.  It’s also International James Bond Day as it was the release date of the first film, Dr. No, in 1962.  We covered that, the Vesper cocktail and the whole shaken vs. stirred debate last year.  But we don’t want to repeat drinks more than we must.

Back to Harry.  Truman wasn’t the first president on TV.  Roosevelt got that honor in 1939 when he appeared on TV from the World’s Fair in New York City.  But that broadcast was only received at the World Fair and at Radio City in Manhattan so it hardly counts.

What prompted Truman to get on TV when folks were still used to firing up their tube radios to listen to the news?  He was making a direct appeal to Americans to cut back on their use of grain.

As you might imagine it was still relatively early in Europe’s recovery from World War II.  There were famines and Truman was worried that if the U.S. didn’t provide food aid the Marshall Plan would fail and Russia would move in.  So he asked farmers and distillers (now there’s a sacrifice!) to reduce grain use.  He asked the public to save a slice of bread each day, forgo meat on Tuesdays, and skip eggs and chicken on Thursdays.

In the final reckoning this whole request didn’t last long as the Marshall Plan got traction and Europe’s economy was soon growing.  But television was here to stay.  Truman’s speeches from the White House were all televised after that, and by the early 1950s there were millions of TVs in the U.S.  Truman followed this by becoming the first presidential candidate to run a paid TV ad.  So, for better or worse, that’s how we got where we are.

Truman followed in the footsteps of Roosevelt as an Oval Office imbiber, but he wasn’t mixing Dirty Martinis like his predecessor.  His spirit of choice was bourbon, and he’d usually toss back a shot after his brisk morning walk.  This was usually Wild Turkey or Old Grand Dad.  We believe either is a better choice than a stop at Jamba Juice.

When Truman was in London he would usually stay at the Savoy Hotel.  Ardent readers know this as the home of the legendary (and still going) American Bar where Harry Craddock invented drinks like the Corpse Reviver No. 2. and wrote the Savoy Cocktail Book.

The Belfast-born Joe Gilmore worked there and he tended to invent new drinks in honor of famous people or events.  He was in that regard a spiritual grandfather to The Drunkard’s Almanac.  Only he invented drinks rather than reported on them.

He came up with the Missouri Mule for Harry Truman.  All things considered that’s a pretty clever name given Truman’s origins in Missouri and the long-term association of the Democratic party with the mule.

This mule, however, does not bear any resemblance to the Gin Gin Mule or Kentucky Buck that we discussed for other occasions.  Further, it does not follow the usual mule formula of a sour topped with ginger beer.  This one is pure spirits so it’s a bit on the boozy side.  Stirred and direct, as one might say.

Missouri Mule

Missouri Mule

Despite the fact that the Missouri Mule is the official State Animal in Missouri, the drink is named after Harry S. Truman. The mule part, however, is only in name: the drink does not follow the usual mule concept of a sour (liquor, citrus, sweetener) topped with ginger beer. Nope, this one is direct, boozy and delicious.
3.50 from 8 votes


  • 1 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz Applejack or Apple Brandy. We like Laird's Apple Brandy.
  • ½ oz Campari
  • ½ oz Cointreau
  • Garnish: none.


  • Add all ingredients to your trusty mixing glass.
  • Add ice and stir to chill.
  • Strain drink into pre-chilled cocktail glass.
  • Drink.
  • As a side note, the original recipe called for shaking the drink. While our Editorial Board does not believe in shaking drinks that do not include juice, if you choose to shake you can fend off serious side-eye by citing it as the original practice for this particular drink.
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