Jason Wagner may spend most of his time discussing wine at Fung Tu (22 Orchard Street, 212-219-8785), but that doesn’t mean the sommelier doesn’t have a fondness for the world outside of grapes.
Wagner’s go-to classic drink is the Remember the Maine, and it inspires one of Fung Tu’s specialty cocktails, Remember the Mainland. However, if it hadn’t been for a quirky Brooklyn bar promotion, Wagner may not have found the drink at all. At Williamsburg’s Dram one night, Wagner opted to go with the bar’s dealer’s-choice option, leaving his fate up to the bartender. He was rewarded with the Remember the Maine, and in his own words, was “blown away” after tasting the drink. “Being primarily a wine guy, this is complex…it became my go-to cocktail,” he says.
Rye — the base of the drink — is essential, he says, so don’t sub in bourbon or another whiskey. “Because it’s sweet and spicy, using [rye] as opposed to regular bourbon, you’re already operating with an extra layer of flavor,” he says. “I wanted to do a take on it at Fung Tu, mostly because it’s one of my favorite things. The balance is really impressive. I can have one and be thought-provoked and/or just refreshed.”
In addition to Dram, Wagner says PDT makes an exceptional version of the drink.
The recipe for Fung Tu’s take is listed below, and below that, you’ll find the original recipe.
Remember the Mainland
by Jason Wagner
2 oz Old Grand-Dad Whiskey
1/2 oz Salers Gentiane Liqueur
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters
flamed orange peel for garnish
Combine ice and all ingredients (except bitters) in a mixing glass and stir. Add bitters and garnish with a flamed orange peel.
Remember the Maine
2 oz rye
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
2 bar-spoons cherry heering
1/2 bar-spoon absinthe
Combine all ingredients in a glass and stir vigorously.
Sick of your usual call drink? Try something new. In this series, we’re asking the city’s bartenders to name their current drinks of choice.