Pioneering 19th century bartender Jerry Thomas is such a towering figure in the cocktail world that over the years, his reputation has been adorned with many trinkets and baubles, many of them unearned. While Thomas was many things—world-renowned bartender, media celebrity, author of the first published bartender's guide—there are many things he was not. Creator of the Tom & Jerry? No, sorry. Inventor of the Manhattan and/or the martini? Wrong again.
Here's one drink, possibly the only drink from his 1862 bar guide, that Thomas did create: the Japanese Cocktail. Named to commemorate the 1860 visit to New York of the Japanese legation, the Japanese cocktail is smooth and sweet, and has a robust yet delicate character that still has plenty of allure almost 150 years after the drink was first created.
A rich combination of cognac and almond syrup, with bitters and lemon zest to give some depth and spice, the Japanese Cocktail is also an excellent drink for a chilly autumn evening.
About the author: Paul Clarke blogs about cocktails at The Cocktail Chronicles and writes regularly on spirits and cocktails for Imbibe magazine. He lives in Seattle, where he works as a writer and magazine editor.
- 2 ounces cognac
- 1/4 ounce orgeat (a French almond syrup flavored with orange flower water)
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist a large piece of lemon peel over the drink and use as garnish.