Thursday, May 14, 2015

Maximillian Affair

Maximillian Affair

Boston has a lot of great cocktail bars, and one of the best is Drink in Fort Point. This bar, part of star chef Barbara Lynch's Boston empire, is all about craft cocktails. The staff includes some of the best bartenders in the city, so rather than restrict customers with a menu, the folks at Drink just ask, "What do you like?" Given a base spirit or a few vague hints, they usually whip up something spectacular. That's exactly what happened last time I went. I was with a big group of friends and not sitting at the bar. When the waiter asked what I'd like, I froze - I had no idea. So I just told him I really liked unusual cocktails and to please surprise me. (The bartenders probably groaned when they heard that one.) He came back with a Maximillian Affair.

The Maximillian Affair uses mezcal, which is going to add a strong smoky taste to any cocktail. But to brighten it up and make it drinkable for even the mezcal-averse, it is paired with sweet, floral St. Germain. Punt e Mes and lemon juice round out the recipe. I was thrilled to find the exact proportions online after my visit to Drink. I recently made one for a friend, and he called it a perfect ten. The blending of spirits is really just dead on. It's sweet and sour, smoky and floral. Easily one of my all-time favorite cocktails.

Execution of Maximillian Ferdinand
Manet's depiction of the execution of Maximillian Ferdinand, Emperor of Mexico

History: The Maximillian Affair was invented by Misty Kalkofen when she worked at Green Street in Cambridge, MA. But she now works at Drink, and may have even been the one to make me my first Maximillian Affair - I didn't know enough about the Boston cocktail scene at the time to wonder. The name of this incredible concoction comes from the French invasion of Mexico in the 1860's (Mexico's victory in one particular battle, on May 5, 1862, is the origin of Cinco de Mayo). France had control of the country for nearly five years. Because they were trying to make nice with Austria following the Franco-Austrian war, they installed Maximillian Ferdinand, younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph I, as Emperor of Mexico. As you might imagine, the Mexicans were none too pleased with this development, and eventually won back their independence and had Maximillian executed (as painted by Manet above). The entire incident has become known as the Maximillian Affair. It's an apt name for a cocktail that blends Mexican mezcal with French St. Germain. Only, in the cocktail, it's a far more harmonious pairing.

Maximillian Affair

1 oz. mezcal
1 oz. St. Germain
1/2 oz. Punt e Mes or other sweet vermouth
1/2 oz. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass or coupe. Garnish with a lemon peel. Raise a glass for poor Max.

Recipe from cocktail virgin slut.

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