Tuesday, August 4, 2015
This semi-opaque little gem is the Japanese Cocktail (Nihon-no Kakuteru, 日本のカクテル), which is a peculiar name for a drink that complements a French base liquor with tiki ingredients. But I didn’t make the name up.
From what I can glean from my various sources, the cocktail was created by “Professor” Jerry Thomas back in the early 1860’s, the formula having been published in his landmark 1862 anthology How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion. The name came not from the ingredients - there’s absolutely nothing Japanese about ’em - but (probably) from the fact that the first Japanese mission to the United States was staying in New York at that time.
In its simplest and most original form, a cocktail is simply a base liquor, a sweetener, and bitters. The Old Fashioned, for example uses rye whiskey or bourbon as a base, with sugar or simple syrup as a sweetener and, most commonly, Angostura bitters. Substitute Cognac for the whiskey and orgeat for the sugar, and you have a Japanese Cocktail. Think of it as a tikified Old Fashioned, or perhaps the bastard child resulting from a hookup between Cognac and marzipan. Mmmmm, marzipan.
2 ounces Cognac
½ ounce orgeat*
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
*You can use ready-made orgeat, which is expensive and often made with crappy ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup. Or you can make your own.
If you like tiki-style drinks - Mai-Tais and the like - give this fellow a try. It’s a delightful little nip.