The USS Maine blew up in the Havana harbor on February 15th 1898. The cause of the explosion was never exactly determined, but it was blamed on the Spanish regime that controlled Cuba at the time. “Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain!” became a popular phrase leading into the subsequent Spanish-American War. The phrase was so catchy that it outlasted the war and eventually became the name of a cocktail, not just a forgotten political slogan. The recipe for that cocktail was printed in Charles H. Baker’s popular The Gentleman’s Companion in the 1930s.
The cocktail is a twist on a Manhattan, adding cherry liqueur and a touch of absinthe to a base of rye whiskey and vermouth. The cocktail has a wonderful spicy wood flavor to it that comes from the rye and there is a lovely hint of cherry that lends just the right touch of fruitiness to balance the spice. I like to use Punt y Mes in this recipe because it has a nice balance of sweet and bitter flavors, giving the cocktail a little bit more body and complexity. A dash of absinthe is traditional, but I could take it or leave it, and suggest that you try it both ways to see what you prefer.
2 oz. Rye Whiskey
3/4 oz. Punt y Mes
1/2 oz. Cherry Heering
1/2 tsp. Absinthe (optional)
Fill a mixing glass with ice and add all of the ingredients. Stir for 15-20 seconds, then strain onto a chilled coupe. Garnish with a cherry.