Heering Cherry Liqueur and absinthe add spice to this Manhattan variant
The USS Maine was a battleship that exploded and sank in Havana Harbor in February 1898, during Cuba’s war for independence. Soon afterwards, “Remember the Maine!” became a rallying cry that pushed the US to war with Spain. We’ll provide more history in the Notes – but right now we want to discuss how good this drink is.
It’s a magical mixture of rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Heering Cherry Liqueur, plus a touch of absinthe. So it’s a Manhattan Cocktail with extra zing.
The flavor will explode on your tongue. Fitting, we suppose.
Recipe: The Remember the Maine Cocktail
This drink is a variant of the Manhattan Cocktail. You can make a Manhattan with bourbon (many people do), but we prefer rye. And we think the Remember the Maine Cocktail really requires rye – bourbon is often a touch sweet, and Heering Cherry Liqueur is already sweet enough.
This drink takes about 5 minutes to prepare and serves 1.
- 2 ounces rye whiskey
- ¾ ounce sweet vermouth (red Italian vermouth)
- 2 teaspoons Heering Cherry Liqueur (often called Cherry Heering)
- ½ teaspoon absinthe or substitute (Pernod works well)
- brandied cherry garnish (very optional)
- Add all ingredients (except garnish) to a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir briskly for 30 seconds.
- Strain into a cocktail glass, preferably one that’s been chilled. Add garnish, if desired, and serve.
- You can serve this drink on the rocks if you prefer. We often do.
- No brandied cherries on hand? Just skip the garnish, or use a regular maraschino cherry. Those neon-red maraschinos are sweeter than brandied cherries – maybe too sweet – but they’ll work in a pinch. And they’re fun to look at.
- Some drinkers add a lemon twist as garnish. We don’t think that works, but you may disagree.
- Our favorite ryes for cocktails are Rittenhouse 100 Proof Bottled-in-Bond and Wild Turkey 101 Proof. They aren’t the best rye whiskeys for sipping straight, but they really shine when combined with other ingredients in cocktails.
- Heering Cherry Liqueur is a sweet, ruby-hued, cherry-flavored Danish liqueur. (Heering is the distiller, BTW, and “Heering Cherry Liqueur” is technically the correct name for the product. But it’s frequently referred to as Cherry Heering, including by us).
- We use Heering Cherry Liqueur primarily as a cocktail ingredient, but you can also enjoy it on the rocks or straight (usually in a cordial glass). If you’re planning to drink it straight, we suggest refrigerating the bottle first – we think the flavor is much better when chilled.
- Now for some history: Cuba was a Spanish colony for several hundred years, Columbus having landed in 1492 and claimed it for his royal sponsors. In 1895, Cuba launched a war for independence from Spain – quickly drawing attention from the United States, which had economic interests on the island. The United States eventually sent a battleship, the USS Maine, to Havana Harbor as a show of force. On February 15, 1898, the Maine exploded and sank in the harbor, killing most of the sailors aboard. An investigation concluded that the ship had been sunk by a mine. However, some US naval officers disagreed, believing instead that a fire in a coal bunker had set off an explosion in the ship’s magazine.
- In any case, the phrase “Remember the Maine!” became a rallying cry that helped spur a brief war between the US and Spain (from April to August 1898).
- So how did this cocktail come to be called Remember the Maine? That’s a bit murky – as are the origins of the drink. A recipe for it was first published in 1939, in Charles H. Baker, Jr’s, The Gentleman’s Companion. The cocktail’s name derives from the Spanish-American War slogan, but Baker appears to have first encountered the drink during another conflict – the Cuban Revolution of 1933.
- Baker, who had a quirky (but memorable) writing style, described his initial acquaintance with the drink thusly: “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.”
- So did Baker create the drink – and give it a conflict-inspired name because of his experiences in 1933? Who knows?
“Blast in a glass!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “I’d say this explodes with flavor.”
“Yup,” I said. “And after a couple of sips, the taste really sinks in.”
“Is there a fire in your bunker?” said Mrs K R. “I think that joke is damaged.”
Guess I’m just a pun Maine-iac.
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