If you've seen the film Dead Poets Society (and if you haven't, you really should) you will remember this magnificent scene. The film's cast included the late great Robin Williams, as well as a young Ethan Hawke and Josh Charles, both of whom are essentially my age.
The El Capitan cocktail has nothing to do with either the movie or the poem Walt Whitman composed after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865 (he is the captain to whom the poem refers). Although the origins of the cocktail are murky, it may predate President Lincoln's death. The cocktail, which originated in Peru and referred to military captains, may be the result of the combination of Italian immigration (and sweet vermouth) and pisco in the 1850s.
2 ounces pisco
1 ounce sweet vermouth (hola Carpano Antica)
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the determination of Todd Anderson showing courage and loyalty (watch the movie), and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Fundamentally the El Capitan is a Manhattan with pisco instead of bourbon. Pisco is the base of other cocktails such as the Pisco Sour. If you want to make an interesting twist on the El Capitan, forget the bitters and use a dash of Fernet Branca, or use Denman Old Quarter bitters from Bittered Sling instead of Angostura bitters. Any way you make it, the El Capitan is a worthy salute to your captain, whoever he or she may be.