One of the most distinguished and engaging writers in all of liquordom was Charles H. Baker. A contributor to Esquire, Town & Country and Gourmet during the 1940s, Baker is best known as the author of The Gentleman's Companion and The South American Gentleman's Companion, both two-volume works published in the 1930s that explored Baker's culinary and libational adventures around the world, rendered in a faux-Victorian prose full of color and panache, adding to his frequently delicious (and sometimes downright weird) recipes for food and drink.
New York writer and bartender St. John Frizell published an exploration of Baker's life in the current issue of Oxford American, and during the recent Tales of the Cocktail event in New Orleans, Frizell presented a 90-minute session about the man and the drinks he loved. Remember the Maine is one of the better cocktails to come from Baker's books.
As Baker wrote in 1939,
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.
Not only does it come with a good backstory, the Remember the Maine drink is absolutely wonderful. A rye Manhattan given a subtle sweetness with cherry liqueur and a hint of savagery from good absinthe, the drink has the flavor of another time. Drink one when you feel like tasting history.
- 2 ounces rye whiskey
- 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
- 2 teaspoons Cherry Heering liqueur
- 1/2 teaspoon absinthe
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with cracked ice; stir well for 20-30 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
Mixing glass, cocktail strainer