Of all the classic cocktail books few tell as good a story as Charles H. Baker’s “The Gentleman’s Companion: Being an Exotic Drinking Book or Around the World with Jigger, Beaker and Flask”, first published in 1939. The book chronicles his adventure traveling the world, sampling its finest cocktails. He offers a recipe for just about every cocktail along with an interesting tale to go with it. The prose of his words make it worth the read but the cocktails can be heavy-handed at times. Choice libations can be found within the book, one simply need to adjust them for modern spirits and tastes.
Erik Adkins, bar manager at San Francisco’s Heaven’s Dog, based the entire cocktail menu from Charles’ book, proving it has merit. The first drink to catch my eye on their menu was “Remember the Maine.” This fine rye drink leaves a complex layer of tastes from the Cherry Heering and a dash of absinthe.
Upon returning from Heaven’s Dog, I found it to be a strange twist of fate when I opened my own copy of Charles’ book to find that I had bookmarked the exact page on which this recipe lay. Mr. Baker writes, “REMEMBER the MAINE, a hazy memory of a night in Havana during the unpleasantness 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”. This is in reference to the coup led by General Batista in Cuba in 1933. Interestingly enough, the name of the drink itself is in reference to the USS Maine which sank in the Havana harbor in 1898 when some of its ammunition inexplicably exploded. To this day, the cause of the explosion is still debated, however, this event precipitated the Spanish–American War and popularized the saying “Remember the Maine, the Hell with Spain!”
Remember the Maine (adaptation)
“Treat this one with the respect it deserves, gentlemen” – Charles H Baker
- 2 oz rye
- 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
- 2 bar-spoons cherry heering
- 1/2 bar-spoon absinthe
“Stir briskly in clock-wise fashion—this makes it sea-going, presumably!”