As President and First Lady, the Eisenhowers often entertained formally at the White House. State dinners were followed by choral groups such as “Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians.” The Eisenhowers used their Gettysburg home as an escape from the formality of the White House. Eisenhower found the informal atmosphere conducive for one-to-one conversations with visiting world leaders as he “took the measure of the man.”
Family and friends were also regular guests at Gettysburg. A typical visit for dinner would begin with cocktails, as mixed drinks made with hard liquor were popular with Americans in the 1950s. The Eisenhowers had cocktail shakers, ice buckets and highball glasses to mix and serve drinks. Ike enjoyed scotch whiskey while Mamie drank a Manhattan. Beer and wine was also served on occasion.
On special occasions dinner was served in the dining room, but if just a few friends were present dinner was often served on television trays on the porch. Meals were standard American fare and prepared by Delores Moaney, the cook. Eisenhower also enjoyed cooking, a skill he learned as a boy. He was well known for his beef stew, Pennsylvania Dutch style breakfasts and skill on the barbecue.