Frontier Mixology: Remember the Maine, and to Hell with Spain! (Best of FP 2010)
Posted December 24, 2010on:
Given the current state of the United States’ overseas military adventures, one doesn’t need to be a retrograde crank to think wistfully back to when our country first began flexing its fledgling imperial might; a time when wars, while nasty and brutish, were at least short. The Spanish-American War began in the spring of 1898, concluded by mid-summer, and resulted in the annexation and de facto colonization of Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam. War with Spain was goosed along when the USS Maine exploded in Havana harbor. The circumstances of the explosion and who was behind it were hotly debated. Nonetheless, via the galvanic charge provided in part by the yellow journalism of William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, public support accreted in support of swift military action, proving indeed that the pen is mightier. Thus, what began as a toast in a New York bar became a national rallying cry of a still-young country asserting itself on the global stage: “Remember the Maine… to Hell with Spain!”
What’s that you say? Sounds more like the Spanish-American War was actually a rush job, fueled by jingoistic media accounts based on suspect evidence, and resulting in the exploitation of foreign lands by American corporate interests. Hmmm, perhaps things weren’t so different after all. Damn false nostalgia.
Well, if nothing else the war gave us Teddy Roosevelt as a Rough Rider and the phrase “Remember the Maine,” which lives on in a cocktail recorded in the 1933 classic “The Gentleman’s Companion: Being an Exotic Drinking Book or Around the World with Jigger, Beaker and Flask” by Charles H. Baker, Jr. Mr. Baker urges his readers to “Treat this one with the respect it deserves, gentlemen.”
Remember the Maine
2 oz. rye whiskey
¾ oz. sweet vermouth
¼ oz. Cherry Heering liqueur
Dash of absinthe
Stir with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Variously known as a McKinley’s Delight, this drink is, of course, a variation on a Manhattan, but with enough interest to really stand on its own as a drink. The sweetness of the Heering, a Danish cherry liqueur that we’ve previously used in the Blood and Sand, plays well with the strong anise of the absinthe. With good reason, the drink is a favorite at Brooklyn bars Fort Defiance and Clover Club.
These days, most people probably don’t, in fact, remember the Maine, but many readers have undoubtedly walked by a monument to the star-crossed ship. At the southwest corner of Central Park, the monument with the gilt statute atop it is a memorial to the crew of the USS Maine.