As many of my readers will know, July is the time when bartenders, brand owners and ambassadors, and all those connected to the drinks trade consider going to New Orleans for the Tales of the Cocktail. Absinthe has always been closely associated with New Orleans (the Sazerac and the Absinthe Frappé were invented there), and Tales of the Cocktail has been host to an increasing number of absinthe seminars and other events since 2007.
A few months ago, I submitted my proposal for a seminar at Tales, and I was delighted when it was accepted. The subject - The Savoy Hotel's Green Fairy Secrets Revealed - has fascinated me for several years. I'll be publishing some of the details of my seminar - and some of those secrets - over the next few weeks, but first of all, since it is a glorious summer in Europe and in much of Northern America, I wanted to highlight a great summer drink that was the last of the four cocktails with absinthe enjoyed at my seminar: the Maid in Cuba, created by
the Savoy's Tom Walker.
Tom and Erik Lorincz, Head Bartender of the Savoy's American Bar joined me for this seminar. While Erik presented three historic cocktails from The Savoy Cocktail Book, Tom presented the Maid in Cuba, a much more recent creation. Here's Tom's recipe as served at the Savoy and as enjoyed at our seminar at Tales:
2 oz Bacardi Superior
1 oz Lime Juice
0.5 oz Sugar Syrup (2:1)
Small handful of mint leaves
3 slices of cucumber
Add all ingredients to a shaker. Shake rapidly with ice and double strain into an absinthe-rinsed coupette. Garnish with a slice of cucumber, add a small splash of soda and serve.
As Tom said, the inclusion of absinthe (at Tales it was served with La Clandestine Absinthe) makes this a more mature and more interesting alternative to the mojito and the daiquiri, the main drinks which helped inspire the Maid in Cuba. I enjoyed the Maid in Cuba at The Savoy a few weeks ago, and I enjoyed it even more at the end of our seminar. Normally I don't like too much mint in my cocktails, but the balance achieved by those batching this cocktails for over 100 seminar attendees was perfect.
Although created initially for the Savoy, the Maid in Cuba seems to be taking on a life of its own, finding its way onto the menus of other bars in London, Scotland, Singapore, Israel very quickly, and, following Tales, Tom guest bar-tended in New York, serving it there too.
Interestingly Harry Craddock's famous absinthe-including creation, the Corpse Reviver No. 2, did not get into the pages of the Café Royal Cocktail Book, published in London just seven years after the Savoy. The Maid in Cuba is becoming a cocktail enjoyed around the world much more quickly, helped by today's social media of course, as well as by Bacardi, I assume. The drink really works well in its own right, so I hope many of my readers will enjoy it this summer. A summer that, for me, took me to New Orleans and to Tales for the first time, but which now means I won't need one of these badges again: