Frontier Psychiatrist

Frontier Mixology: The Maximilian Affair

Posted on: August 12, 2011

Of all the strange cul-de-sacs of European aristocracy, one of the most bizarre is Ferdinand Maximilian Josef, an Austrian prince whom Napoleon III installed as Emperor of Mexico in 1860s, and who was overthrown and killed three years later.

Born into the House of Hapsburg, Maximilian was the son of Princess Sophie and Archduke Franz Karl.  Karl, the shallow end of an already-inbred gene pool, has been charitably characterized as “an amiably dim fellow whose main interest in life was consuming bowls of dumplings drenched in gravy.”  But his issue were keen indeed.  Maximilian’s older brother, Franz Joseph was the star of the family, pushing his dumpling-loving father out of the way to become the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, and ruling with a strong hand for almost 68 years.  Maximilian was not to be totally left out, however.  He was appointed Viceroy of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, two regions of Italy that had come under Austro-Hungarian control.  Then things got weird.

In 1861 Mexico defaulted on its debt following a civil war.  Then, as now, sovereign debt defaults were a big deal.  But back then, they didn’t mess around with ratings agencies and tweaks to monetary policy.  Spain, France, and Britain all readied plans to invade, and rushed their fleets to the waters off Veracruz.  France took the lead as the repo man, and landed troops to seize the country by force.  The invading French troops suffered an initial defeat at the Battle of Puebla on, you guessed it, Cinco de Mayo.  But reinforcements soon arrived, and France foreclosed on Mexico.

Rather than rule it directly, Napoleon III offered the crown to Maximilian, who accepted and became Emperor Maximiliano I of Mexico.  It was seen as an untenable position based on the political instability of the country, and Maximilian was dubbed “the Archdupe.”  Indeed, he didn’t last long.  The United States had been a bit preoccupied during the early 1860s, but, once it focused on this direct European intrusion into its sphere of influence, pace Monroe, it began a program of covert funding for Mexican rebels.  Maximiliano was overthrown, and executed by firing squad, an event famously captured by Manet.

To celebrate this obscure pageant of historical trivia, I was inspired to create an FP original cocktail that could somehow stir together these disparate historical themes into a delicious libation.

The Maximilian Affair

1 oz.     mezcal (sugg. Los Amantes)

1 oz.     Campari

1 oz.     Nardini Rabarbaro

dash     Bittermen’s Xocolatl Mole bitters

Stir furiously with ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

A variation on a Negroni, certainly.  Both the Campari and the rabarbaro are associated with Lombardy and the Veneto, regions once administered by Viceroy Maximilian.  Rabarbaro is a unique amaro made from Chinese rhubarb, with an earthy, almost mineral quality that plays well with the char of the mezcal.  If you can’t find Nardini, another brand available in the States is Zucca.  In a pinch, you can substitute another amaro, e.g. Ciocaro, or sweet vermouth with an extra dash of bitters.  The mezcal, of course, speaks to Maximilian’s ill-fated adventures in Mexico, as does the dash of molé bitters.

The drink has a smoky, bitter sophistication evocative of the strange and unique history of good old Maximiliano and his clan.  As you’re drinking it, one last anecdote.  At his execution, the Emperor paid the firing squad a sum of gold to not shoot him in the face, so that his mother could view his body.  They took his money.  Then they shot him in the face anyway.  Afterwards, his body eventually made its way back to Austria, and was buried in the Hapsburg imperial crypt in Vienna.

Drink up,

Advertisements

2 Responses to "Frontier Mixology: The Maximilian Affair"

rabarbaro is delicious!

[…] with Frontier Psychiatrist: alcohol.  Unlike FP, however, it seems unlikely that eXquire is the role of the Hapsburgs in the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia.  No, when the phrase “Drunk drivin’ on a Wednesday” is repeatedly intoned on […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow Us:

Send Us Your Music:

Staff

L.V. Lopez, Publisher
Keith Meatto, Editor-In-Chief
Peter Lillis, Managing Editor
Freya Bellin
Andrew Hertzberg
Franklin Laviola
Gina Myers
Jared Thomas
Jordan Mainzer

Contributors

James Tadd Adcox
Michael Bakkensen
Sophie Barbasch
John Raymond Barker
Jeffery Berg
P.J. Bezanson
Lee Bob Black
Jessica Blank
Mark Blankenship
Micaela Blei
Amy Braunschweiger
Jeb Brown
Jamie Carr
Laura Carter
Damien Casten
Krissa Corbett Kavouras
Jillian Coneys
Jen Davis
Chris Dippel
Claire Dippel
Amy Elkins
Mike Errico
Alaina Ferris
Lucas Foglia
Fryd Frydendahl
Tyler Gilmore
Tiffany Hairston
Django Haskins
Todd Hido
Paul Houseman
Susan Hyon
Michael Itkoff
Eric Jensen
David S. Jung
Eric Katz
Will Kenton
Michael Kingsbaker
Steven Klein
Katie Kline
Anna Kushner
Jim Knable
Jess Lacher
Chris Landriau
Caitlin Leffel
David Levi
Daniel F. Levin
Carrie Levy
Jim Lillis
Sophie Lyvoff
Max Maddock
Bob McGrory
Chris Lillis Meatto
Mark Meatto
Kevin Mueller
Chris Q. Murphy
Gina Myers
Tim Myers
Alex Nackman
Michael Nicholoff
Elisabeth Nicholson
Nicole Pettigrew
Allyson Paty
Dana Perry
Jared R. Pike
Mayumi Shimose Poe
Marisa Ptak
Sarah Robbins
Anjoli Roy
Beeb Salzer
Terry Selucky
Serious Juice
David Skeist
Suzanne Farrell Smith
Amy Stein
Jay Tarbath
Christianne Tisdale
Phillip Toledano
Joe Trapasso
Sofie van Dam
Jeff Wilser
Susan Worsham
Khaliah Williams
David Wilson
James Yeh
Bernard Yenelouis
Wayan Zoey

Listening To:

Sons of Dionysus


A Transmedia Novel of Myth, Mirth, and the Magical Excess of Youth.