The South East Asian Cocktail

Oriental Cocktail

The Spruce / Shannon Graham

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
271 Calories
6g Fat
18g Carbs
5g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 271
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 12mg 4%
Sodium 161mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 7%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Protein 5g
Calcium 27mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This South East Asian cocktail is a classic recipe originally published in "The Savoy Cocktail Book." While it contains no ingredients from Asia, there is a reason for the name.

The story goes that the cocktail was created by an American engineer stationed in the ​Philippines in 1924. This gentleman nearly died of a fever and gave this recipe to the doctor who saved his life as a token of his appreciation.

This cocktail is easy to prepare, quick, and surprisingly tasty. Featuring the spiciness of rye whiskey cut with orange liqueur, sweet vermouth, and lime juice, it is a sort of hybrid of the Manhattan and sidecar. Though a bit unusual, you'll find it to be a surprisingly delightful drink.


  • 1 1/2 ounces rye whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 3/4 ounce orange liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice (fresh)
  • Garnish: cherry for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Add all ingredients in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker.

  3. Add ice and shake vigorously.

  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

  5. Garnish with a cherry. Serve and enjoy.


  • The choice of whiskey should be well thought out. A robust, flavorful rye whiskey shines in this drink.
  • Sweet vermouth is a fortified wine and doesn't have the shelf life of liquor. If your bottle has been open for longer than 3 months, it is likely losing flavor or has already gone stale and should be replaced.
  • For the orange liqueur, a top-shelf triple sec or orange curaçao is the best choice.
  • Fresh lime juice is key to finding the cocktail's balance of sweet and sour. The original recipe, called the Oriental cocktail, from Harry Craddock's 1930 edition of "The Savoy Cocktail Book" called for "juice from half a lime." That can be misleading because every lime is going to yield a different amount of juice. As this obscure cocktail reclaimed its space in the modern drinking sphere, bartenders have come to agree that 1/2 ounce of lime juice is the perfect fit.

How Strong Is the Cocktail?

When made with 100 proof rye whiskey and 80 proof orange liqueur, this drink is very strong. Its alcohol content will fall in the range of 29 percent ABV (58 proof) which is average for this style of cocktail.