East India House Cocktail

By Robert Hess

It was in in "The Gentleman's Companion, by Charles H. Baker Jr. that I first encountered the "East India House Cocktail", and immediately fell in love with it. It has a wonderful flavor and is what I refer to as an "approachable" cocktail which would be suitable to both beginners as well as experienced drinkers. Mr. Baker describes the drink as: "Being one for any man's book, & garnered in The Royal Bombay Yacht Club, India (1932)."



2 oz brandy or cognac

1 tsp. pineapple juice

1 tsp. orange curaçao

1 tsp. maraschino liquer

2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters


Shake with ice.

Strain into a cocktail glass.

Dinah (MetaGrrrl/Bibulous) 20 Apr 2009
5:25 pm

One upside of going back to the original is the textural change provided by using pineapple gum (or “gomme”) syrup.

Jennifer Colliau of Small Hand Foods has you covered:

We have some of her grenadine and it is sublime!

(And, by the way, Heaven’s Dog in San Francisco not only uses her quality ingredients, their menu is heavily inspired by Charles H. Baker, Jr.)

Tony Harion - Mixing Bar - Brazil 20 Apr 2009
6:43 pm

Hey Robert,

For the Pineapple syrup, one thing came to my mind. I´m not a huge fan of canned stuff, but I couldn´t help thinking about using the syrup from a can of pineapple wheels or something like that…

I agree that your recipe has enough sweet ingredients (probably), but I might give this a try both ways to see. – I just need to find use for the rest of the stuff that comes in the can :)

Cheers and thanks again,


Robert Hess 21 Apr 2009
4:04 am

Dinah, you’re lucky that you have access to Jennifer’s syrups! They are indeed good stuff!

Tony, I think that the syrup remaining in a can of pineapples might work. It would be worth trying side-by-side with one made with just pineapple juice to see how they compare.

But if you have pineapple juice and simple syrup, mixing the two 50/50 should be a perfect substitute.

blair frodelius 21 Apr 2009
4:42 am

Ted Haigh sent me his recipe for homemade pineapple syrup awhile ago.  It’s not hard to make.

In a bowl or 2 quart jar combine: 4 cups of sugar, 2 cups of water and stir. Right here you have simple syrup. Skin and cube a small pineapple and put as much of it as will fit into the syrup. Let stand for 24 hours. Extract the pineapple cubes and press juice into the syrup with a hand juicer. Pour resulting syrup through a tea strainer in a funnel into a 1.5 liter bottle. Add a dash of spirits as a preservative. Keep refrigerated. It ought to last months.



Niels Marthinsen 21 Apr 2009
11:16 pm

Wonderful cocktail!

Both Monin and Giffard has a pineapple syrup among their products.

Tobinn 9 May 2009
9:28 am

I took a small can of pineapple juice (one cup), simmered it down by half and added a half cup of sugar, stirred until fully dissolved.  I added a bit of high proof vodka as a preservative.  This was pretty simple to make and while sweet, it’s not as sweet as you’d think - halving the pineapple juices seems to “darken” the flavour.  Anyway, I think it was great in this cocktail although I haven’t yet tried it with just pineapple juice as I used my last can for the syrup.

IanRafferty 4 Aug 2009
4:11 am

At what measures are we using for a tsp guys?

Robert Hess 4 Aug 2009
5:01 am

tsp is short fo “teaspoon”, which equals .1666 ounces, or 5ml.

Marko Orlic 3 Aug 2010
10:18 am

Robert, thanks for sharing this classic cocktail recipe and all of your great work! 
I made this cocktail following this recipe and I found it to be too much of cognac with just a hint of fruit flavors.  I used an actual teaspoon to measure out the ingredients which called for it.  A teaspoon measured out in my OXO measuring cup to be about 0.25 oz, but a teaspoon is actually 0.1666 oz..  In watching the video, it seems you are measuring out 0.50 oz for the curacao, maraschino and pineapple juice.  Is that correct?  I am hoping to recreate the drink and was wondering if you could help me get the correct measurement.  Maybe I just got it right the first time and just don’t appreciate the drink.  I do love cognac though, just maybe expected something else from the cocktail.  =)  Thanks!!

blair frodelius 3 Aug 2010
11:18 am

a rule of thumb is that a 1/4 ounce equals 1.5 tsp

Robert Hess 3 Aug 2010
12:19 pm

For this, I was measuring “shy” of 1/4 ounce (or shy of 1/2 Tbs, since that’s the measure on the other side of the OXO), trying to measure out 1/3 of a Tbs, which is 1 tsp. I had forgotten to bring my measuring spoons, and I felt it was easier to eyeball in an OXO than it would be with a barspoon.

I think a very important point here, is that recipes can, and should, but adjusted (within reason). And just because I’m using a tsp (or nearly) for these ingredients, doesn’t mean that there is no room for any variation on this. While this recipe isn’t as broadly distributed as something like a Margarita, you will find it occasionally, and you may often find it with slightly different measurements. What is important is to first make the drink true to what you think was presented, and then determine for yourself if that presents you with the best balance.

Everybody tastes things slightly differently, and what is perfectly balanced to me, may be too sweet or too sour for you. For me, this drink should not have the character of a sidecar, margarita, or daiquri, but instead it should be a little more on the boozy side, with the angostura being able to be detected swimming around with the juice and liqueurs. And pineapple juice can quickly take over a drink, so you really need to be cautious about how much you add.

Marko Orlic 1 Sep 2010
6:22 pm

Robert, thank you for your reply.  I was secretly hoping you were measuring out .50 oz for the tablespoon so the drink would be sweeter, but you were even putting even less pineapple juice, curacao and maraschino than I was!!  I do agree with you that I should try to see what balance works for my tastes, but I now know what this recipe calls for.  The East India House is definitely more on the boozy side, so since I didn’t “love” it, I think I would increase the fruit element to 0.50 oz each.  Thanks again for your reply and setting me straight!!  I think it is great that you take the time to reply to comments such as mine.  Keep up the good work!

Luke S 15 Mar 2011
3:55 pm

Hi Robert - I’m curious as to why the recipe here differs from the recipe in your book (which includes rum, orange bitters instead of aromatic, and no maraschino).

Love the show, btw.

Robert Hess 16 Mar 2011
6:27 am

Luke, actually I’m a little confused why the recipe in my book differs from the one here as well. It “should” be pretty much the same, but clearly it isn’t. Frankly the recipe in the book is wrong, and I’m not sure why. You can use either angostura or orange bitters in this drink (or both), but it definately needs maraschino liqueur, and I have no idea where the rum came from.

8stringfan 4 Nov 2012
8:00 pm

Just to add on to the mention of the different versions in the book and on here…  I’m drinking the book version now and I think it’s a tad flat.  I’ll make another one with this recipe to compare, but I think the maraschino would really contribute something.  The version in the book is weak, tasting mostly of diluted sweet brandy with a surprisingly subtle amount of pineapple flavor.  There is a hint of sweet citrus, and an oddly dry finish.  I personally think Angostura would be better than orange bitters.  One thing to note though - the small amount of rum is actually a pretty neat addition.  You don’t taste it up front but after a few sips, it slowly emerges in the finish.  After the drink warms a bit, it becomes a bit more noticeable in the sip as well.  My guess is that the rum (I used Appleton V/X) may have resulted in some of the bitterness I noticed in the finish on this one.

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