The VOC – a 12 Bottle Bar original
Combine everything in a mixing glass.
Shake with ice and strain
Garnish with a cloved orange wheel half.
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It was the world’s first mega-corporation. The first company to issue stock. From 1602 to 1796, it sent nearly one million people and 5,000 ships to work the trade routes between Asia and Europe. It was the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie — the VOC — or, in English, the Dutch East India Company.
For nearly two hundreds years, the VOC not only ruled the waterways between the West and the East, it was immensely profitable, sprawling, and powerful. It could wage war, negotiate peace, mint its own money, and established its own colonies. For all intents and purposes, the VOC was a government unto itself. How did it get that way? The hard, bloody way, of course.
At the time of its founding, the VOC was merely a speck on the radar of the almighty Portuguese. That would soon change, as the Dutch invaded and conquered their way through Southeast Asia. However, the demand in Europe for cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg and other spices became so great that any and all methods for their procurement were easily rationalized. To quote the film Dune, “The spice must flow!”
It flowed until the end of the 18th Century, when corruption, mismanagement, growing competition, and continual war with England brought about the eventual bankruptcy of the VOC. The English assumed many of its colonies and routes; although some were restored to the Dutch by the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814. By that time, however, Europe had been embroiled in the Napoleonic Wars for more than a decade. Times, they were a’changin’.
Essentially a Hollands punch, the VOC celebrates the might and majesty of the company after which it was named as well as the spices and tea that were key to the Asian trade. The tea lightens up the drink (use a strong black leaf tea — not instant, of course), while the spices make it appropriate even in colder months. If you need to buy jar spices, look no further than Penzeys, www.penzeys.com (go with the Chinese Cinnamon), and don’t skip the fresh nutmeg — it’s a small step that makes a world of difference.
How to get the cloves in the orange without breaking them? First, pierce holes in the rind with a toothpick.
Esoterica: Sailing east to reach the East wasn’t enough for the VOC, so in 1609, they contracted with an Englishman to discover a western passage to Asia. The Englishman, Henry Hudson, landed on the eastern coast of North America. Hudson returned to Amsterdam and reported his findings. That same year, the Dutch established the American colony of New Netherland with its capital of New Amsterdam, modern day New York City.