Leave it to cocktail book writer and master mixologist Charles H. Baker to take the jingoistic catchphrase of a flashpoint in the Spanish-American War and turn it into a stunning cocktail. Baker wasn’t around to witness the sinking of The Maine off the coast of Cuba or the ensuing battle cry “Remember the Maine (and to hell with Spain)” that reverberated around America, but he was present for the Cuban Revolution in 1933 (not the famous, Communist one), when, as he puts it in his 1939 opus The Gentleman’s Companion, “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.”
We’re not sure what a Cuban revolution has to do with a Manhattan variation, but we do take Baker’s next note to heart: “Treat this one with the respect it deserves, gentlemen.” (Ladies should take note as well.) Absinthe and Cherry Heering might sound out of place in a Manhattan, but the flavors all meld perfectly—just look at a Sazerac or Blood and Sand for proof. The cocktail is a journey for your mouth, with distinctive absinthe appearing first on the palate, slowly unfolding into sweet cherry and peppery rye. Plus, the sweetness of the liqueur cuts the absinthe’s potent flavor, making the drink palatable for even the biggest absinthe-phobe.