Filling the inconspicuous role of #113 in Jerry Thomas’s manual, the Japanese Cocktail is the second in our cocktail flight dedicate to Thomas, from Volume 5b. A quick internet search will pretty much give you an exhaustive account of the collected knowledge about the Japanese Cocktail in one paragraph. While we almost never recommend “a quick internet search” to learn about drinks—so often one encounters canned mistruths, copy-and-pasted across the internet with questionable reliability—there isn’t much known about the cocktail and the most reliable speculation comes from Wondrich’s Imbibe!
Wondrich figures the drink’s commemorative origins date to the 1860s, in honor of Japan’s chief delegate to the US and in recognition of his drinking prowess. Just as interesting are the other quotations from the later 1800s about the cocktail that Wondrich cites. As far as can be told, the cocktail has always been greeted with mixed feelings. There’s little question as to why: the Japanese cocktail has a curious profile on the palate and a very assertive character that claims a space all its own in the cocktail landscape. In our experience, those who enjoy it really, really enjoy it, while the majority of others keep an weary eye on it.
We build our Japanese Cocktail with cognac, orgeat, bogart bitters—a simple build that stands out from Thomas’s other cocktails with it’s less precise measurements. It is joined by the Crushed Strawberry Fizz and the Hot Whiskey Toddy on our flight.