This classic rye cocktail with subtle cherry and absinthe is like the Manhattan’s sophisticated cousin (or maybe the Sazerac’s cool little sister?) If you enjoy spirit-forward whiskey cocktails, this is one to add to the top of your to do list!
History of the cocktail
What’s up with the name? The Remember the Maine is named for the U.S.S. Maine, a battleship that sunk in 1898 in Havana, Cuba. The incident began with an unexplained explosion and was frequently blamed on Spain. Just months before the start of the Spanish-American War, the battleship’s demise led to the rallying cry, “Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain!”
Remember the Maine first appeared in the 1939 book The Gentleman’s Companion by Charles H. Baker. Baker was a legendary writer, traveller, and bon vivant who explored the world through cocktails and cuisine.
The Remember the Maine is made with:
- Rye whiskey
- Sweet vermouth
- Cherry Heering liqueur
- Lemon twist, for garnish
How to make it
This classic is simple and satisfying. Rinse a coupe glass with absinthe. Then stir all of the remaining ingredients with plenty of ice and strain the liquid into the absinthe-rinsed glass. Express a lemon twist over the cocktail and enjoy!
To rinse a glass with absinthe: Simply pour a small amount of absinthe (about 1/4 oz) into a chilled glass, swirl it around to coat the glass, then pour out and discard the excess liquid.
Alternatively, you can mist the inside of the glass with absinthe. This results in less waste and a consistent application of the strongly flavored spirit. I like to use the atomizer bottles from Pina Barware.
What makes it worth trying
Remember the Maine is one of my very favorite classic cocktails, and I’m actually not a huge fan of the (somewhat similar) Manhattan. While both cocktails contain 2 ounces of rye whiskey and 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth, Remember the Maine adds a couple teaspoons of top quality cherry liqueur and a kiss of absinthe in place of bitters. The added sweetness and complexity takes the cocktail to a whole new level (and lends more balance in my opinion).
Rye whiskey is a bit drier and spicier-tasting than bourbon, which can sometimes have a sort of syrupy quality. I find that I enjoy the flavor of rye in many stirred whiskey cocktails where bourbon can feel a little too sweet.
And if you like a bit more dilution, try it over a large cube in a rocks glass. I actually think a little extra dilution helps to open up the flavor of the rye, and serving it on ice keeps it extra cold for the duration of the drink.
What is Cherry Heering?
Cherry Heering is a Danish liqueur made with cherries and spices. It’s high quality, naturally flavored, and not overly sweet. While there are other cheaper cherry liqueurs available, I highly recommend investing in a bottle of Cherry Heering for the best tasting cocktails. In addition to Remember the Maine, Cherry Heering is also used in the classic gin cocktail the Singapore Sling and the classic Scotch whisky cocktail Blood and Sand.
Where to find glasses like this
Remember the Maine
- 2 oz rye whiskey
- .75 oz sweet vermouth
- 2 bar spoons Cherry Heering liqueur
- 1/4 oz absinthe (for rinse)
- Pour the absinthe into a coupe glass and swirl to thoroughly coat the inside. Discard the absinthe and set glass aside.
- Add the remaining ingredients to a mixing glass and fill it 3/4 with ice.
- Stir until chilled, then strain into the absinth-rinsed glass and garnish with a lemon twist.