Remember the Maine

Clinton Cawood unearths the dusty old classic Remember the Maine, which in constitution is not dissimilar to the Manhattan.

To remember the Maine requires more than merely revisiting this fine, if somewhat-neglected classic, but to reacquaint yourself with some history too.

The Maine in question was a US battleship, the sinking of which preceded the Spanish-American War of 1898, leading to the newspaper headline “Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain!”.

When Charles H Baker included the drink in his 1939 The Gentleman’s Companion, he described a later conflict, “a hazy memory of a night in Havana during the unpleasantness of 1933, when each swallow was punctuated with bombs going off on the Prado”, amid the Cuban Revolution.

The drink itself is certainly worth being remembered too. Drawing more than passing inspiration from the Manhattan, with its rye whiskey and sweet vermouth in classic two-to-one ratio, a touch of absinthe reveals some Sazerac DNA too.

Related article:

Baker suggests that these three, together with a small amount of cherry brandy – most use something like Heering cherry liqueur – are stirred together clockwise. “This makes it sea-going, presumably.”

The result is served up in a coupe with a twist of lime or lemon. Nowadays, it’s worth borrowing one more element from the Sazerac by employing a discarded absinthe rinse rather than Baker’s half a teaspoon stirred in with the rest.