The First Big Bar Tab

America’s early presidents were all avid wine drinkers—starting with the first president himself, George Washington. On September 15, 1787, to celebrate his election a few months earlier, as well as the impending signing of the Constitution two days later, Washington rounded up other “founding fathers,” plus friends, and troops to celebrate. The bill at the City Tavern in Philadelphia that night came to just over $17,300 in today’s dollars. By the end of the night, the 55 guests had consumed 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of Bordeaux, 8 bottles of whiskey, 22 bottles of porter ale, 8 bottles of hard cider, 12 jugs of beer, and 7 large bowls of punch. (The staff and musicians drank another 21 bottles and just as much punch). The bill also included reimbursements to the tavern for a serious number of broken glasses. The receipt for the night was saved in the First Troop Cavalry Archives.

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