I’ve been experimenting with classic cocktail recipes, some pre-prohibition. I came across this one on Tuxedo №2, an exquisitely laid-out web site with great photography and interesting drinks.
There you’ll find a well curated list of one-hundred cocktail recipes, beautifully presented and photographed, with historical anecdotes and ingredient lists. If you’re on the trail of something new and tasty, head there.
“Remember the Maine” is a variation on the Manhattan, one of my two favorite cocktails. This style generally incorporates a whiskey base, a fortified wine for balance, and usually bitters for depth and flavor. The Maine goes beyond, substituting a liqueur for balanced bittering and added fruit sweetness, and a little kick from an unexpected addition.
Beginning with a base of 2 ounces rye whiskey aims this cocktail toward the dryer end of the spectrum. For any drink so based, my go-to spirit is Rittenhouse 100. Widely available for $26-$30, its rich flavor and extra proof kick make any whiskey-based drink a step better. Bulliet rye whiskey is a good second if you can’t find Rittenhouse. With these two rye in your arsenal there’s little reason to go pricier unless you plan to sip it neat.
A traditional Manhattan includes sweet vermouth, and today’s experiment does as well. For this duty I turn to ¾ ounces of one of my two favorites, Dolin Rouge. Sweet with a light spiciness, Dolin mixes well in any cocktail.
A good rule of thumb for vermouths is to use one you can enjoy over ice, perhaps with a splash of fizzy water. If a vermouth’s not good on its own, it’s not good enough for your cocktails.
The traditional garnish for a Manhattan is a cherry - but avoid those glowing red Maraschino globes and look for Bada Bing dark red cherries.
Along those lines, Remember the Maine incorporates a dark cherry liqueur called Cherry Heering. Rich, but not overly sweet, Heering can be enjoyed as a digestive after a sturdy meal. Today 2 tsp of it will work somewhere between the dry rye whiskey and the sweet vermouth, and impart a cherry fruit flavor. Its mild bitterness ties together the rest of the ingredients.
We’re balancing flavors here, but unlike some cocktails where the purpose is balance-to-subtract (think of the Daiquiri), Remember the Maine is balance-to-build. We’re layering flavors to create a new flavor.
Our last ingredient comes from out in left field. Absinthe requires an acquired taste in its usual serving format, but here it’s used in such small quantity, ½ tsp, that its only remnant among the other flavors is its pungent anise. While a typical chilled water, sugar cube and liqueur arrangement is powerfully flavorful, here it complements rather than dominates.
We’re fortunate here in the western reaches of northern Virginia to have a distiller making small batch absinthe. My choice is Mt. Defiance Distillery’s Absinthe Superieure, its spelling a throwback to the liqueur’s French roots.
There’s no fruit juice, dairy or egg white in this cocktail, so we’ll skip the shaker and combine in a more refined manner. For this I break out the mixing glass and a bar spoon. After combining the ingredients in the glass and filling ⅔ to ¾ with ice, I slide the spoon down the inside of the glass and stir by keeping it there.
Don’t shovel the ice - rotate the spoon around the inside of the glass for twenty to thirty seconds. We want chill with a wee dilution and no more.
Using a julep strainer I pour the results into a chilled coupe, glassware from a more refined time, and garnish with one of those dark cherries.
Sublime. The Heering adds to the vermouth’s sweetness, equalling the absinthe’s pungency. Even at ½ tsp that flavor is right up front. Rittenhouse’s rich flavor and strong alcohol kick fit in across the palate, as you’d expect of a top shelf base spirit.
Take a roll over to Tuxedo №2 for the back story on this drink’s name, and more terrific cocktails.
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