Know your classics: Remember the Maine
I’ve had cherries on my mind lately. That’s because I’m involved with this Toronto-area food web site called Gastropost, which assigns weekly “food missions” for its users to go out and fulfil. This week’s mission is strawberry versus cherry, and I choose cherry.
Lovers of cherry flavour in cocktails have been unlucky, cursed for decades by artificially flavoured cherries and cherry brandies. From the Singapore slings to the blood and sand, cocktails that contained cherries and cherry brandy were turned into childish toys.
Thanks to the spread of craft booze revolution, however, you might be able to track down the original cherry brandy (Heering) and the original maraschino cherries (Luxardo), which in both cases are superior to the more commonly found generic versions. Luxardo Maraschino cherries, in particular, are to the phony supermarket “maraschino” cherries as genuine Southern barbecue is to the McRib.
The liquor board in Ontario has, in its infinite wisdom, brought Cherry Heering to my province only to discontinue it a few months later. It’s running out as we speak.
To enjoy the fleeting Heering, I made a remember the Maine cocktail, which is one of those obscure classics that occasionally gets a brief flurry of attention. It’s quite the sipper — a sweet-cherry-and-licorice cousin to the Manhattan, and gentler overall for not having any real bitters added (other than absinthe, which is kind of bitter).
Named after a 19th-century American war cry, the drink was first revealed to the world in Charles H. Baker’s 1939 tome The Gentleman’s Companion: Being an Exotic Drinking Book or Around the World with Jigger, Beaker and Flask, which is reportedly quite the rollicking read.
Remember the Maine
• 2 oz. rye whisky
• ¾ oz. sweet vermouth
• 2 tsp./ ⅓ oz. Cherry Heering or substitute
• roughly 1 tsp. absinthe (or pastis)
• Garnish: Brandied or true maraschino cherry (i.e., Luxardo brand), and/or piece of lemon peel
Method: Chill cocktail glass. Rinse the inside of the glass with absinthe or pastis and discard excess. Stir other liquid ingredients well with ice in a mixing glass until ice cold and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish and serve.
Garnish: Brandied or true maraschino cherry, and/or piece of lemon peel
Tip: To coat the inside of the glass with absinthe, consider using y a kitchen mister/sprayer