Before I settled on the Asylum for my Mixology Monday drink, I was batting around the idea of posting this one. It’s actually a much tastier drink, and after I became enamored of the whole Seabrook story, I resolved I’d come back around to this one, just so I could post a really engaging pastis cocktail. So, before I completely forget about it, here’s a pastis-containing drink that’s worth trying at least once.
I’d just shout out the name, but the problem is, the drink has two of them. But given the names and all they imply, I’d estimate the drink to be a product of the turn of the last century. I first came across it in Charles H. Baker, Jr.’s The Gentleman’s Companion, where he refers to it as
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
[“Remember the Maine,” of course, was the jingoistic rallying call to arms in 1898, following an explosion aboard the USS Maine which was blamed (using dubious evidence) on Spain, and led to the Spanish-American War–kind of like the WMD situation of its day. In cocktail circles, the war also led us to the Daiquiri and the Cuba Libre–and, arguably, the whole panoply of pre-Castro Cuban drinks–but those are for other posts.]
The other source for this drink is Albert Stevens Crockett’s Old Waldorf Bar Days, which refers to it as “McKinley’s Delight.” Crockett wrote,
Just why it was McKinley’s delight, I am unable to ascertain. The chances are that President McKinley never found out whether it was or not. In its favor, I may mention that the Bar was a great hangout for the G.O.P.’s of yesteryear, who may have passed their emotion for their candidates across the counter for the barkeep to translate into terms of liquid intensity.
Partisan political issues aside, the drink certainly stands its claim to liquid intensity. Basically a rye Manhattan, seasoned with a little cherry brandy (the sweet stuff, like Cherry Heering, not the dry kirschwasser) and a little absinthe (or the like), this cocktail has a flavor in which neither the brandy’s fruitiness or the pastis’ elegant funk take over. Pastis, put in its place.
Remember the Maine, or McKinley’s Delight
- 2 ounces rye whiskey
- 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1 to 2 teaspoons Cherry Heering
- 1/2 teaspoon absinthe or legal substitute
Stir with ice–“briskly in clock-wise fashion–this makes it sea-going, presumably!” writes Baker–then strain into chilled cocktail glass or saucer champagne glass. Twist a curl of lemon peel over the drink.