Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Gentleman's Companion - Day 1 - Remember The Maine

by Fredo

"We are still heartily of the opinion that decent libation supports as many million lives as it threatens; donates pleasure and sparkle to more lives than it shadows; inspires more brilliance in the world of art, music, letters, and common ordinary intelligent conversation, than it dims." - Charles H. Baker, Jr.

To kick off my favorite season, sweet, sweet Autumn, I am embarking on a trip in renown tippler and world traveler Charles H. Baker Jr.'s shoes. For the next two weeks, I will enjoy one cocktail daily from The Gentleman's Companion: Volume II originally published in 1939. I know this type of trip has been done before. I am not doing this to be original but rather as a challenge to my palate and cocktail knowledge. It will require fortitude, discipline, and a cast iron liver at times. There will be no repeats and though I have never attempted a cocktail marathon I've been training for years.

My first drink is the REMEMBER THE MAINE.

Baker describes the drink as "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, or the sounds of 3" shells being fired at the Hotel Nacional, then Haven for certain anti-revolutionary officers."

1 jigger (1 1/2 oz) of good rye whiskey (I used Rittenhouse Rye 100 proof)
1/2 jigger (3/4 oz) of Italian vermouth (I used Carpano Antica formula)
1 to 2 tsp of cherry brandy (I used Cherry Herring)
1/2 tsp of absinthe (I substituted Pastis 51)

Stir briskly in a clock-wise fashion and serve in up twisting a curl of green lime or lemon peel. (We went with lemon.)Though Mr. Baker suggest serving into a chilled saucer champagne glass, I decided to go with a chilled highball glass.

This cocktail is quite potent so I substituted Pastis 51 instead of Absinthe which would have put it over the top. It reminds me of a Manhattan cocktail but sweeter thanks to the cherry herring and yes has the unmistakable hint of anisette flavor due to the Pastis. The recipe would probably is better with a lemon peel but lime could also do the job of adding a bit of citrus to cut the sweetness.

Other places that I recommend to enjoy this authentic Charles H. Baker, Jr. cocktail: Fort Defiance and Clover Club in Brooklyn, NY, USA.

* Baker refers to the Revolution of 1933 in his description of Remember the Maine. Out of the "unpleasantness" came Fulgencio Batista, the strong man who would rule Cuba on and off until being deposed by Fidel Castro in 1959.

1 comment:

  1. I had the esteemed privilege to be served a Remember the Maine this August at The Varnish in downtown LA. A kissing-cousin to both the Manhattan and the Sazerac, this cocktail delivers a tasty sip and a mighty wallop. Eric uses Old Overholt (a personal favorite of mine), Pernod absinthe, Cherry Heering (as yourself) and Dolin Rouge Vermouth de Chambéry.