The Calcutta

I hate licorice. Well, ok, I hate licorice at about 40% as much as I did 3 months ago. Why the drastic reduction of hate, you ask? I’ve been forcing myself to eat as many things flavored with licorice as possible. Why on earth would you do something like this?, you ask. I’m on a quest of sorts: to like all of the food and drink flavors that I hate. Here’s a simple example:

I get into Eric’s car and notice a horribly foul box sitting between the front seats. Looking at him in dismay I say, “You eat that stuff? Doesn’t it poison your blood and make you turn into a zombie?” Eric just smiles and jokingly offers me some. I cringe away, “No thanks, I’ll leave those foul orbs of dark deceit for you. Zombie.”

I would like to be able to say “Mmm… Good and Plenty’s, remember when I used to hate licorice?” as I greedily shovel down a handful of the purple and white capsules.

My journey has not been without peril, but I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel, and the fact that I like this drink embodies the very effort I have put into my quest.

The Calcutta

  • 1 1/2oz rye whiskey
  • 1 1/2oz pernod
  • 1 1/2oz sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 1/2t egg white (optional)

Shake with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

From: The Gentleman’s Companion Volume II: The Exotic Drinking Book, Charles H. Baker, Jr.

Charles H. Baker, Jr’s illustrious book The Gentleman’s Companion Volume II: The Exotic Drinking Book was later re-published under the title, Jigger, Beaker, and Glass. From it comes this strange and somehow alluring potion, which he calls the Balloon Cocktail. I did a bit of searching in my library of cocktail books, which I admit is by no means as grand and enticing as some, but I could find no mention of the Balloon Cocktail. Nor did my search turn up any drinks that contain such a combination of ingredients. Therefore, I will exert every effort to confuse everyone by renaming the cocktail.


Each spirit punches through the murky brown potation without hindering its partners. Licorice is the first taste to wash over your tongue, but it is followed in rapid succession by the sweet vermouth, rye whiskey, and orange bitters.


To quote Mr. Baker: “This is another one to watch cannily, lest our pedal extremeties fold up at some totally inappropriate moment.”

5 Responses to “The Calcutta”

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5 Comments to “ The Calcutta”
  1. Stone-Lord JoeNo Gravatar says:

    Looks v tasty. I cannot wait for the ToN to try out all these delicious drinks…

  2. EricNo Gravatar says:

    why wait? get yer shaker shakin!

  3. DashjdotNo Gravatar says:

    Wow — this is good. I was pretty skeptical because I find Pernod drinks with 1/2 t. of Pernod to be a bit much, but this embraces and enhances the flavor of it.

    Not sure I like the look, though, with the cloudy green (cold Pernod) mixed with reddish-brown (others). But I will learn to sell it as “exotic”.

    Good work.

  4. RickNo Gravatar says:

    Glad you like it… this was a weird one at first for me too with the color, but the drink definitely makes up for it. If you didn’t try it with the egg white, do so; the texture really improves.

  5. AdamNo Gravatar says:

    Everyone’s taste is different, I guess. I just made this drink and threw it out after a few sips. Way too sweet for my taste. Perhaps this is because I substituted a different pastis (Casanis) instead of the Pernod. I don’t think I’ll try again–I’ll save my pastis and rye for Sazeracs :)

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