Remember the… er…

September 10th, 2008

Another Manhattan variation I discovered – or rather, rediscovered – whilst in the US in July is the Remember the Maine. It’s a drink I tried on the original recommendation of Paul Clarke, shortly after I got hold of my first ever bottle of rye whiskey. Unfortunately after trying it I promptly forgot about, not because it was unenjoyable, rather because having just discovered the joys of Manhattans with real rye it sort of got brushed aside.

Fast forward a year, and on the Sunday morning of Tales of the Cocktail I had the good sense to drag myself out of bed and up the elevator to attend St. John Frizell’s session on Charles H Baker. St. John was well qualified on the subject, having retraced Baker’s footsteps around the world with his wife over the past few years as well as compiling an extensive article on the man in question for Oxford American, and his presentation offered an hilarious yet insightful look at the man behind The Gentleman’s Companion.

St. John didn’t serve the Remember the Maine at the session sadly, but he did talk about it and offered the text used to describe the drink in Baker’s famous book. Yes, the original text does feature all this capitalisation:

REMEMBER the MAINE, a HAZY MEMORY of a NIGHT in HAVANA during the UNPLEASANTNESSES of 1933, when EACH SWALLOW WAS PUNCTUATED with BOMBS GOING OFF on the PRADO, or the SOUND of 3″ SHELLS BEING FIRED at the HOTEL NACIONAL, then HAVEN for CERTAIN ANTI-REVOLUTIONARY OFFICERS

This jogged my memory, and I made a note to return to the drink once I got back home. The recipe calls for cherry brandy, an ambiguous listing that leaves both a sweet cherry liqueur like Cherry Heering or alternatively Kirsch as options. St. John and Paul suggest Heering, and the following recipe is based on Paul’s tweaks (just a little less vermouth), which I made using Carpano Antica Formula on the recommendation of St. John.

Remember the Maine cocktail

Remember the Maine (Aromatic version)

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Although only used in small amounts, the Cherry Heering and absinthe have a surprisingly large impact on the resulting drink, which is rich, deep and aromatic. The anise of the absinthe is prevented from becoming dominant thanks to the other ingredients, meaning its other flavours come out more, resulting in an earthy, vegetal background note. This combines wonderfully with a vermouth like Antica Formula, and the whole lot is brightened up by the subtle cherry sweetness of the Heering.

The story doesn’t quite finish there though. A few days after St. John’s session, on my way back to the UK via New York, I found myself in new Brooklyn bar The Clover Club. Ready for one final drink for the road I asked my bartender, Nate Dumas, for something of his own choice. A smile crossed his face and he set about carefully pouring out my drink and slowly stirring it using hand-cracked ice.

Nate served the drink whilst telling me he was a huge Charles Baker fan, and when he said the cocktail was a Remember the Maine, I was delighted – not only a delicious cocktail but a rather apt one too. However, Nate puts a slightly different spin on the drink, choosing to use Kirsch rather than Heering, and prefering Martini & Rossi to Antica Forumla.

Remember the Maine cocktail

Remember the Maine (Dry version)

View in: oz | ml | shots

Using kirsch rather than Cherry Heering results in a drier drink, with a slightly more obvious cherry taste with just a hint of funkiness. The Martini & Rossi also lends a slightly lighter, fruitier tone, resulting in an elegant drink that has a complex yet subtle nature to it. Compared to the previous drink, it is at once both very similar, yet very different. The 2oz of rye ensures the base remains strong and obvious, but the other ingredients do have a major effect on the overall profile of the drink.

Which do I prefer? It all depends on mood, sometimes the clearer, more elegant dry version appeals whereas other times you want to get lost in the depths of the aromatic version. Whatever mood you are in though both are definitely worth exploring. Which do you prefer?

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Posted in Absinthe, Cherry Heering, Kirsch, Recipes, Rye, Vermouth

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8 responses to “Remember the… er…”

  1. Blair, aka Trader Tiki Blair, aka Trader Tiki says:

    Hey Jay!

    Great drink… had a variation on this at Clyde Common here in PDX, and, actually couldn’t remember the damned name until now!

    I gotta ask, those are some TIGHT lemon spirals. What’s your technique?

  2. Tiare Tiare says:

    Nice post and drinks Jay! yeah its a nice spiral, my guess for this tight spiral is..its wrapped around a thin wooden stick..maybe one of those chinese eating sticks?

  3. DJ Dubonnet DJ Dubonnet says:

    My guess would be on what was used to peel them; it seems most hand-held kitchen citrus zester/channelers gouges out a triangular-shaped channel when viewed at a cross-section, with the peak of the channeler leaving quite a bit of the white part of the peel on the zest, making it hard to twist tightly.

    Instead, there’s a dedicated bar channeler, which carves out a wider, thinner, flatter zest. And from the ones I’ve seen, the channeler runs parallel to the handle, while most kitchen ones has it aligned perpendicular, so the bar one requires a bit of different handling.

  4. DJ Dubonnet DJ Dubonnet says:

    Oh, and my first Remember the Maine was courtesy of Eric of the Zig Zag, who upon my query for an off-menu recommendation, made that for me.

  5. Jay Jay says:

    Hehe, yeah I am quite proud of my twists! I use an Oxo channel knife, which as DJ Dubonnet says runs parallel to the handle, and doesn’t cut out too much of the pith. I then wrap the twist around a cocktail stick and, if taking photos, keep it held in place for a minute or so to try and get the twist to hold its shape.

    It can vary on the lemons though – the ones I’m getting at the moment they seem to hold their shape very well, but sometimes they unravel almost as soon as they’re put in the drink.

  6. The Jasmine and El Jazmín « liquor is quicker says:

    [...] refined (read: usually expensive) for mixing, unless you want a fantastic Manhattan variation.  And you can never have too many of those.  But everyone these days is all up on the tequila-for-gin [...]

  7. Jason Jason says:

    Great post for a great recipe using a nice mixture of ingredients – appreciate the post for an overlooked cocktail.

  8. the black forest « liquor is quicker says:

    [...] Jay at Oh Gosh! also has some interesting meditations on switching cherry-based liqueurs for the Remember the Maine (a cocktail which I really must remember to make more often myself).  The amaro-whiskey mix has [...]

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