East India Cocktail

Here’s another drink from the brandy seminar I attended in 2007, presented by Chad Solomon and Christy Pope and sponsored by Hennessey Cognac.

After going over The Sazerac, smashes, daisies and the Sidecar, we tried another classic cocktail called the East India Cocktail, which was quite obscure until it was inadvertently resurrected by Dale DeGroff.

Back at the turn of the 21st Century Dale was commissioned by Courvoisier to create a new cocktail featuring their Millennium Cognac bottling, which he then called the Millennium Cocktail. He later figured he needed to change the name, as he was very happy with the way the cocktail turned out and he’d hate to see it relegated to the trash heap of millennial merchandise. Later on, he discovered that an out-of-print book called The Roving Bartender, written by Bill Kelly in 1946, had a cocktail called the East India Cocktail that contained the same basic ingredients albeit in greatly different proportions. Dale’s version has some subtle but important differences that make for a wonderful flavor, and as far as I can tell, he’s still calling it the Millennium (he was the night he gave me one, at least). It was lovely.

The original East India recipe called for Cognac with just a couple dashes each of orange Curaçao, pineapple juice and bitters. Dale’s Millennium had equal parts brandy and pineapple. This version of the East India that Chad and Christy made for us splits the difference, and retains the finishing touches on Dale’s drink, one of which was to be a huge influence on my own signature cocktail.

The East India Cocktail
(Modern, Dale DeGroff-inspired version)

1-1/2 ounces Hennessy VS Coganc.
3/4 ounce pineapple juice.
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier.
1 dash Angostura bitters.

Combine ingredients with ice in a mixing glass, shake thorougly for 10-15 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass. You’ll have a lovely foamy head, which is what happens when you shake pineapple juice. Flame an orange peel over the surface of the drink, and grate a little nutmeg on top.