Charles H. Baker, Jr., was given his recipe for the Lalla Rookh Cocktail “on a Trip Home from Yokohama in 1931, by Clymer Brooke.” As Baker tells us, “Brooke liked it so well in Tahiti he jumped ship and got himself a vanilla plantation on the loveliest island possible.” Must…stifle…class…resentment…
Like the Riding Club Cocktail, the Lalla Rookh Cocktail first saw print in George J. Kappeler’s 1895 Modern American Drinks. I decided to start with Kappeler’s version of the drink, which differs considerably from Baker’s:
- 1 pony vanilla cordial (1 oz Navan)
- 1/2 jigger brandy (3/4 oz Park VSOP)
- 1/2 jigger rum (3/4 oz Cruzan Dark)
- Small spoonful fine sugar (1/2 tsp)
- 1 whiskey-glass cream (2 oz)
Shake with ice and strain into a tall, thin bar glass.
This was a predictably delicious drink—lush and rounded, with the rum, cognac, and vanilla liqueur resting together in perfect harmony. Its only real flaw is that two ounces of cream makes for an awfully rich drink.
Baker’s version is similar, but boozier:
- 1 jigger cognac (2 oz Park VSOP)
- 1/2 jigger brown rum (1 oz Cruzan Dark)
- 1/2 pony vanilla extract (1/2 oz Navan, because I refuse to drink vanilla extract)
- 1 tbsp cream
- 1/2 tsp sugar or simple syrup (optional; I used it)
Shake with ice and strain into a flute cocktail glass.
According to Baker, the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar “makes an insidious drink that ladies prefer, often to their eventual risk, joy, and sorrow.” A very gender-normative fellow, was Baker.
Anyhow: Whoo, that’s a lot more liquor than the Kappeler version! And it tastes like it, too, especially with the cream cut in half. Nonetheless, Baker’s version is equally delicious in its own way. Just plan to feel slightly poleaxed after drinking it.
Lalla Rookh Cocktail (Kappeler): ★★★★☆
Lalla Rookh Cocktail (Baker): ★★★★☆