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Brandy Meets Pineapple In This Treat Of A Tipple

Heard Of The East India No. 2? An After-Dinner Brandy And Pineapple Tipple

As if the exploits of the East India Company aren’t already infamously famous, making the British trading firm stand out is a whole spectrum of cocktails that seem to have been inspired by some sort of connection with the colonial period and the trade routes running between Europe and Asia. Such is the case with the punch, a derivative of the word paanch, denoting a cocktail made from five ingredients that was exported from the areas housing textile factories in Surat all the way to England and Scotland. Here, it was popularised as a concoction made from rum, spices and rose water.

But the origins of the East India No. 2 cocktail are difficult to trace and it seems to have very little to do with the traders who made their way to the Indian subcontinent. The drink however carries a lot of tropical flavours, it is made by adding orange liqueur and pineapple juice to a generous 50 ml pour of quality cognac or brandy imbuing the cocktail with a slightly bitter yet quite tangy and sweet qualities. The presence of Angostura bitters in the drink becomes crucial for balancing the cocktail which can otherwise become a tad overwhelming due to the presence of orange liqueur and pineapple infused sugar syrup.

In Mixology Craft

According to Difford’s Guide, pineapple syrup in an East India cocktail recipe can first be found recorded in bartender Robert Vermeiere’s 1922 bestseller, Cocktails: How To Mix Them. While the East India cocktail calls for raspberry liqueur, the No. 2 replaces this sweet and sour spirit with the tart and tropical notes of pineapple syrup. The same recipe recurs in the 1936 work on mixology, The Artistry of Mixing Drink written by the enigmatic bartender-spy Frank Meier who worked at the Ritz’s bar in Paris from 1921 to 1947 and is said to have introduced pineapple into a traditional East India cocktail.

Heard Of The East India No. 2? An After-Dinner Brandy And Pineapple Tipple

Another reference to this recipe can be found in Harry MacElhone’s 1923 book, Harry of Ciro’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails where he also mentions adding pineapple syrup in his East India variation. And if that’s not enough, the inclusion of the cocktail in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book involves the addition of pineapple juice instead of pineapple syrup into the recipe making the East India mix a matter of much experimentation in mixology craft.

In its modern renditions, most bartenders prefer to add a dash of pineapple juice and syrup both to pack the drink with lots of tangy and sour qualities coupled with some sweet notes. The trick to making this cocktail work is to ensure you are generous with your orange liqueur and syrupy pineapple so the drink sings of many sweet and bitter flavours. The addition of bitters to the recipe infuses it with another layer of complex textures. Poured into a narrow port or nick and nora glass, all the drink requires is a lemon twist garnish to give this deeply coloured cocktail a vibrant and colourful pop.

Heard Of The East India No. 2? An After-Dinner Brandy And Pineapple Tipple

After Dinner Tipple

One of the reasons the East India No. 2, a variation without the raspberry liqueur, works so well after a big meal is because it brings together two elements that are perfect for a post dinner tipple, cognac and pineapple. The brandy is often enjoyed in several parts of the world after a sumptuous dinner as you lounge on a sofa in your study or drawing room sitting by a cosy fire. And pineapples are almost always served in tropical regions as a wonderfully refreshing and tangy fruit to revitalise your taste buds.

When the two ingredients come together, they craft a bitter, sweet and sour tasting cocktail that is perfect to sip on at a relaxed pace introducing some fresh yet subtle flavours that dance a slow waltz on your taste buds. The drink never overpowers in mouthfeel, yet it is exquisitely flavoured to become a sour and rather seductive tropical cognac sipper. This cocktail could well be a permanent addition to your home bar recipes for its delightfully easy preparation and its thoroughly tempting taste.


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