October 13: Building The White House

white-house-etchingOn this day in 1793, construction of the Presidential Mansion in Washington, D. C. began with the laying of the building’s cornerstone. During the first two years of his presidency, George Washington occupied two mansions in New York City. Later, in July of 1790 it was decided that Philadelphia would serve as the temporary capital city while the Federal City (later named Washington, D. C.) on the Potomac was being constructed, so Washington moved into a mansion there.

Washington’s successor, John Adams, also lived in the Philadelphia mansion during his first term. By mid-1800, the Presidential Mansion was ready for occupation, and Adams moved in in November of that year. A popular legend says that the Presidential Mansion gained the White House name when repairs were made to the building after the British burned it in 1814. According to this story, the charred sandstone walls were repainted a crisp white to hide any fire damage. However, the name had been used before the British attacked the Mansion. In 1811, Francis James Jackson, the former British minister to the United States, wrote that his successor would “act as a sort of political conductor to attract the lightning that may issue from the clouds round the Capitol and the White House at Washington.” Over the next century, the name “Executive Mansion” became the popular way to describe the building, but in 1901, Teddy Roosevelt made the White House name official when he ordered stationary engraved with the words “White House–Washington.”

Now, I was able to find a White House cocktail, but it’s extremely boring (1/2 ounce tequila, 1 ounce orange curacao, garnished with a lime and served in a cocktail glass), so I decided to go in a different direction and celebrate the laying of the White House’s cornerstone with a Cornerstone cocktail. It’s a cachaça based cocktail that is not dissimilar in taste to a Manhattan.

Cornerstone

  • 2 ounces Cachaça
  • 1/2 ounce grenadine
  • 1/4 ounce Fernet Branca
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

Stir in a mixing glass with ice and strain into an Old Fashioned glass with ice. Garnish with an orange zest.

Tomorrow: Teddy Roosevelt delivers a 90 minute speech.

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