Thanks to Robert Hess for reminding me of this drink in a post over at The Spirit World.
As Robert points out, the Japanese Cocktail is one of only ten “cocktails” listed in Jerry Thomas’ 1862 The Bartender’s Guide. It’s unfortunate that this drink has fallen by the wayside–its flavor is deep and evocative, yet it’s not so complex to scare off less-seasoned cocktail drinkers.
The crucial ingredient here is orgeat syrup. A key component in a few other drinks–the mai tai is an example that readily springs to mind–orgeat is simply almond syrup with a faint touch of orange flower water. Monin makes an agreeable version, though, for do-it-yourselfers, Darcy lists a recipe over at The Art of Drink.
The composition of the Japanese Cocktail evinces the nineteenth-century sweet tooth; if you’re into sweet drinks, try the recipe as listed, but I’d suggest toning down on the orgeat until you reach an agreeable point.
Oh, and the name? The story goes that Thomas created this cocktail in honor of a visit to New York by the Japanese delegation. In a globalized world, the Japanese Cocktail is a reminder of a time when such things seemed so rare and exotic.
- 2 ounces brandy
- 1/2 ounce orgeat (or to taste)
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir with ice, strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.