Saturday, October 17, 2009

east india house cocktail

2 1/4 oz Cognac (Courvoisier VS)
1 tsp Pineapple Syrup (1:1 pineapple juice and sugar)
1 tsp Curaçao (Curaçao of Curaçao)
2/3 tsp Maraschino Liqueur (Luxardo)
3 dash Angostura or Orange Bitters (Angostura)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime twist.
Friday night while making pizza, it was time to cross another cocktail off the Anvil's 100 list. I selected the East India Cocktail and began the quest to find the recipe which most closely matched the Anvil's description of "Cognac, curaçao, pineapple gomme, maraschino, Angostura bitters." It was surprisingly difficult since most recipes contain two but not three of the following: curaçao, maraschino, or pineapple syrup (or provide a different recipe entirely). Finally, Charles Baker came through with his recipe in Jigger, Beaker and Glass: Drinking Around the World. I did a double take to confirm that his was similar in proportion to the other recipes since Baker can sometimes be off in his drunken recipe recaps of his adventures; luckily, it was in spec. Baker's recipe did not use the Anvil's pineapple gomme but a soda fountain syrup one (think Monin brand). I compromised by making a syrup with equal volumes pineapple juice and turbinado sugar and skipped the gum Arabic part entirely. Baker had quaffed this drink in 1932 at the Royal Bombay Yacht Club, and he also described a similarly named "East India Cocktail" while in Calcutta that contained dry vermouth, sherry, and orange bitters.

In Baker's East India House Cocktail, he specified shaking the concoction which led to a bit of foam on the top of our drink (with interesting negative space around the lime peel), and perhaps stirring would have been more appropriate. The difference in mixing results could have been the pineapple juice we used versus the processed soda syrup he recommended, or the bartender simply shook Baker's drink that night. Our drink's nose was full of lime oil and pineapple aromas, and the taste was an alcohol heat flavored by maraschino and curaçao. In addition, the Cognac flavors reared themselves at the end of the swallow. The cocktail, in theory, reminded me a lot of the Japanese albeit with more complexity than the Japanese's orgeat- and Boker's-flavored brandy.

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