30/30, #15: East India Cocktail

It’s Friday, it’s been a long, hellaceous day, and it’s getting close to midnight — I’m gonna skip the usual folderol with this one (not to mention the photo — too tired and fed up with the day to mess with the camera right now) and get straight to the booze.

East India Cocktail

  • 2 ounces cognac
  • 1 teaspoon curacao
  • 1 teaspoon pineapple syrup
  • 2 dashes maraschino
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura or Peychaud’s bitters

Stir well with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass; hit it with a lemon twist and, if you’re up for it, a cherry.

The basics: Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual, 1882 and 1900 (and now, through Mud Puddle, 2008). True, Johnson calls for Boker’s bitters; if you’ve got ’em, use ’em, but for everyone else go with Angostura or, on David Wondrich’s suggestion in Imbibe!, Peychaud’s. I thought I’d break this out since I had a fresh batch of pineapple gomme in the house and was in the mood for something old-timey, really tasty and inherently boozy. This pretty much fits the bill, and is absolutely what was needed after a long week.

One aside: Ted Haigh ran another recipe for the East India Cocktail in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, a variation that calls for 1/2 ounce of raspberry syrup in place of the teaspoon of pineapple syrup in this version, and that ups the maraschino to a full teaspoon. I recall trying that back when the book first came out, and being delighted by the flavor but turned off by the heavy sweetness. This version is much more approachable, since it knocks the sugar back to managable levels; do be sure to use a decent cognac, though, since you’re basically getting dressed-up liquor here, with little to hide the flaws. And if you want to split the difference — especially if you’re not up for prepping your own batch of pineapple gomme syrup — you can substitute a good raspberry syrup, which is not only damn delicious but historically appropriate, if you get hung up on those kinds of things.

And with that, back to Friday evening…..

This drink is part of 30/30, a series of 30 drinks in 30 days — or as much as I can keep up before collapsing in a weary, booze-addled heap.

5 Responses to 30/30, #15: East India Cocktail

  1. already halfway through! I’m sad just thinking about the end of this fantasticness.

  2. Paul I have a question for you about Maraschino. I have seen its use in quitre a few places and purchased a bottle of Maraksa. I had high hopes for these drinks but find I am not yet fond of the maraschino liquer. Do you recomend a brand? what does it provide a drink that makes it a “common” uncommon ingredient?

    I have yet to try this new recipe, but will follow up.
    Thanks and cheers.

  3. Peter-

    As far as maraschino goes, I’m not sure if for some it’s an acquired taste or if it’s one of those things that some people just plumb aren’t going to like, but I definitely know a few people whom it leaves with a bad taste- something about it tasting like kid’s cough medicine. It’s been awhile since I’ve had Maraska brand, but I think I like Luxardo better, although I’m pretty sure it’s more funk-forward, so that might not be the answer.

    Some fairly accessible drinks with maraschino might be:

    Red Hook
    2 oz rye
    1/2 oz Punt e Mes
    1/4 to 1/2 oz maraschino

    Opera Cocktail
    1 1/2 oz gin
    1/2 oz Dubonnet
    1/4 oz maraschino
    orange bitters
    lemon twist

    And my girlfriend loves a couple/few dashes in a Fitty-fitty, like this:
    1 1/2 oz Beefeater
    1 1/2 oz vermouth (Noilly Pratt, although I’ve recently discovered Boissiere and like that)
    couple of dashes maraschino, to taste
    orange bitters
    lemon twist

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