Do Photos Show Gov. Andrew Cuomo Holding a Beer Bottle, Draped in a Blanket?

In March 2021, photographs emerged online which appeared to show New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pacing outside his official residence in Albany, talking on his cellphone while draped in a blanket and holding what some social media users speculated was a bottle of beer.

At the time, Cuomo faced mounting pressure to resign, including from fellow Democrats, amid a series of allegations of sexual misconduct against him. The photographs, published on March 12, appeared to provide a stark visual record of the lowest ebb in Cuomo’s decade as governor. 

Multiple Twitter and Facebook users posted the photographs, claiming that they showed Cuomo nursing a beer:

In reality, it was not clear what the bottle contained, but it strongly appeared to be a brand of mineral water produced in New York state. Snopes asked Cuomo’s press office for clarification on the contents of the bottle, but we did not get a response in time for publication. If we receive further relevant information or evidence, we will update this fact check accordingly. For now, we are issuing a rating of “Unproven.”

On March 12, the Reuters agency published more than a dozen photographs, all taken earlier that afternoon by photographer Angus Mordant, that showed Cuomo walking on the grounds of the New York State Executive Mansion — the governor’s official residence — in Albany. The pictures showed Cuomo draped in a blanket or shawl, speaking on his cellphone, and holding what appeared to be a blue glass bottle:

Most of the photos gave no clear indication of the type or brand of the bottle, but one in particular provided a close-up view that strongly suggested Cuomo was drinking water, not beer.

That photograph — later used by the The New York Times and posted to Instagram by the photographer himself — can be seen below:

A closer look at the bottle shows clear visual similarities with the design of the Saratoga brand of mineral water:

We also attempted to find beer brands with a similar design on a blue bottle but to no avail. Thus, it strongly appears that Cuomo was carrying a Saratoga brand bottle of mineral water — and not a beer — in the March 12 photographs. However, the definition in the pictures is not quite high enough to allow a definitive identification, and as a result, we are issuing a rating of “Unproven” for now.

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