The East India Cocktail II
A cocktail revisited
Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has commented on The First Part of my article on the blog or in The New Sheridan Club newsletter; your encouragement is incredible.
Now, back to the East India Cocktail! I decided to try the cocktail with an olive garnish. Initially, it seems to make little difference to the cocktail, but as I drained the glass and bit into the flesh, a horrendous flavour overtook my mouth; I now know why it was not recommended.
Following my previous research, I was of the impression that the Raspberry Syrup version of The East India Cocktail was a more recent variation, but whilst looking at O.H. Byron’s Modern Bartender’s Guide I found the following recipe, which shows that both the Pineapple and Raspberry Syrup versions have been around for over a century.
Since the last article, I have been lucky enough to get hold of a bottle of Boker’s Bitters, the vintage cocktail condiment that has recently been resurrected by Adam Elmegirab. As this was part of Johnsson’s original recipe, I thought it would be interesting to compare one made with Boker’s bitters with one made with Angostura. In the interests of completeness, I undertook a second comparison of the bitters using Byron’s recipe, containing Raspberry Syrup.
The East India Cocktail #2 – Stirred
1oz Dry Vermouth
1 dash Orange Bitters
Here is another recipe, this time from Old Mr. Boston. Unfortunately, I could find very little history on this one. I chose Lustau’s East India Solera as my sherry, for obvious reasons. This made a crisp drink that was a good contrast to the #1 cocktail. The combination of Sherry and French Vermouth has a similar taste to Italian Vermouth and, in a similar fashion, really stimulates the appetite. Before I mixed this I was dubious, but, once again, I found myself to be pleasantly surprised.
West India Cocktail – Stir
4 dashes Angostura Bitters
3 dashes Sugar Syrup
3 dashes Lemon Juice
I really like the idea of the East India having a western counterpart; unfortunately, this version from Derek Nimmo’s “Shaken and Stirred” does not live up to the dream. You will notice that this has more Angostura than sugar syrup or lemon juice and, as such, is rather overpowering. This otherwise dull drink I imagine is somewhat reminiscent reminds me of an occasion when a chap I know tried to make a cocktail with only water and Angostura Bitters. At least it didn’t have an olive in it.
After the disappointment of the last drink, but still being fond of the idea of a West India Cocktail, I came up with this:
West India Cocktail (An Alternative) – Stirred
2 oz Dark Rum
1 tsp Pineapple Syrup
1 tsp Curacao
2 or 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Maraschino
This simply substitutes Dark Rum for the Cognac and, to continue the tropical theme, I used Pineapple Juice and Angostura Bitters. Whilst not particularly original, I think it is a fitting tribute to the original. I used Angostura Rum to complement the bitters, which created a cocktail that was reminiscent of the original East India, only made a bit sweeter by the Dark Rum. This variation was a no-brainer, but I did quite like it.
I could never say for certain; I have written far more on the East India Cocktail than I would have ever thought possible and new material may yet present itself. For example, I recently heard a story which places the origins of the drink with the East India Club in London, founded in 1867. That would, indeed, coincide with the appearance of the first known published recipes and, in fact, doesn’t necessarily contradict Johnson’s account. My conclusion: more research is needed.
This post is dedicated to Robert Evans Esq. and his fellow members at the East India Club who were the inspirations for these posts.