Vasco da Gama Recipe

Vasco da Gama Recipe

[Photograph: Wes Rowe]

At Alembic in San Francisco, Danny Louie created this drink, named for the explorer who made this combination of the disparate ingredients possible. By combining bourbon, Scotch and homemade garam masala-spiced apple syrup, you get a delicious play on fall flavors that'll warm you up from the inside.

Note: Use unsweetened apple cider from your local orchard or grocery store refrigerated section for this drink.

  • Yield:makes 2 cocktails plus extra spiced syrup
  • Active time: 10 minutes
  • Total time:45 minutes


  • For the garam masala-spiced apple syrup:
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seed
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seed
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorn
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 dried bird's eye chili
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups apple cider (see note)
  • 1 1/2 cups turbinado sugar
  • For the cocktails:
  • 4 ounces bourbon (such as Buffalo Trace)
  • 1 1/2 ounces garam masala-spiced apple syrup
  • 1 ounce single malt Scotch
  • 2 dried apple chips for garnish


  1. 1.

    To make garam masala-spiced apple syrup, toast all spices in a medium saucepan over low heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add apple cider, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer and add sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cider has absorbed flavor from spices, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, then strain into a jar and refrigerate. Cider can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

  2. 2.

    To make the cocktails, add bourbon, garam masala-spiced apple syrup, and Scotch into a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Stir until well chilled, at least 10 seconds. Add a large ice cube to two Old Fashioned glasses. Strain cocktail evenly between the two prepared glasses. Garnish each glass with a dried apple chip and serve.